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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Interviewee: Ken Woodburn
Interviewer: Ben Houston
Date: December 8, 2004
H: It's December 8, 2004. I'm in the home of Mr. Ken Woodburn. Mr. Woodburn,
thank you for agreeing to do this interview on behalf of the Water Management
District project. Why don't we start off by asking you where and when you were
W: [I was born in] Shippenville, Pennsylvania, December 30, 1926.
H: How did you end up coming to Florida?
W: My family moved to St. Petersburg when I was in the ninth grade.
H: Was there any particular reason?
W: Just to get out of the Pennsylvania winters, and some other family members had
moved down to St. Petersburg.
H: Well, talk a little bit about what attracted you to working in the environmental
field. Was that something that started from boyhood, or did you stumble onto it
W: Well, I came to Florida the first time in the seventh grade, and spent seventh
grade in St. Petersburg before we returned North for one year and then came
back. I was almost immediately attracted to the subtropical and neotropical flora;
the flowering trees, the various kinds of fruit citrus, and other subtropical fruits,
and that lead to an immediate interest in horticultural matters, but also we had a
science teacher in the seventh grade who was ahead of her time, and we went
out to Tampa Bay and collected marine specimens, wading out off of old Lassing
Park, and that encouraged an interest in marine matters. Then in the 1950s, the
battle of Boca Ciega Bay began in the Pinellas County/St. Petersburg area,
where a lot of hydraulic dredges were being brought in to pump up waterfront
real estate, and in doing so, they were pumping up a lot of the scallop beds, the
seagrass beds, and so on. That was my introduction to my beginning job in this
field, in the spring of 1955, at the state marine laboratory of the Florida Board of
Conservation, the predecessor agency to the Department of Natural Resources.
H: What was your job description there more specifically?
W: I helped on marine biological research, but also became involved in traveling
around the state and evaluating various waterfront development proposals as to
their effects on marine life and marine habitat and fisheries and so on.
H: My understanding is you went to the University of Florida ...
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 2
H: And did they have a program in marine biology? Was that your formal major?
W: No, it wasn't. That was in its infancy then. My actual major was in subtropical and
tropical horticulture, but then I evolved into that through more practical work and
research and so on.
H: Talk a little bit about this sort of predecessor organization to the DER. What was
it like back when it was still in its early days when you came aboard?
W: Well, it was basically marine-oriented, as far as marine fisheries go, and it was
the parent agency for the Florida Marine Patrol, which dealt with enforcing the
fisheries laws in Florida. It was saltwater, and at the same time you had the
Game and Fish Commission that dealt with freshwater matters. They are now, of
course, combined in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, but
in those days, there used to be a saying that Earl Fry's birds would eat Randolph
Hodges' fishes, meaning birds feed on saltwater fish, and you had a lot of
interesting things that resulted from that. I don't want to digress too much, but
there was the battle of the white amur, or the grassy carp, and the then-DER
wanted to import that species in for aquatic weed control, and the Game and Fish
Commission opposed it. A song was even written involving that, and it was
written by a waterfowl biologist with the Game and Fish Commission who lives
outside of Gainesville, Dale Crider. He wrote a song that went: "Don't go near the
water brims, the grassy carps are loose. Yesterday he ate my weeds, today he
got my goose."
H: And was that a hit single across Florida to the fledgling environmental
W: It was, in environmental circles.
H: This might be a little later, in terms of the department itself, but my understanding
is that it had somewhat of an unusual structure in its early days, in terms of being
under a trustee system and having lines of responsibility both to the governor
and the cabinet as a whole. Could you comment on that a little bit?
W: Well, there was an Executive Board of Natural Resources that oversaw the
Department of Natural Resources after it was formed, and that was comprised of
the governor and the cabinet, and they sat on the Board of Natural Resources,
and they also sat as the trustees in the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, which
had jurisdiction over the state sovereignty or submerged lands, and eventually
those trustees would fall into the DER in one of the various reorganizations of
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 3
H: And did this structure affect how effective it was in carrying out its duties?
W: Well, of course, it was a divided executive, it didn't come under control of any
governor, and he shared the power with the six independently elected cabinet
officers then. But what it did do was offer a unique forum where people from all
walks of life could come to Tallahassee and be heard by their chief statewide
elected officials as to their concerns about various development proposals, land
acquisitions, or whatever, phosphate mining reclamation, and so on.
H: And that forum was employed by everyday citizens?
W: It was a big thing up here then, because they took up such matters as the fate of
the Cross State Florida Barge Canal, and the beach setback lines, like the
contentious one in Dade County, and many land-acquisition proposals like
ELMS, Environmental Endangered Lands Program, which evolved in time to the
Preservation Florida Program, which is the largest state land-acquisition program
in America. And, of course, now the cabinet's been reduced in numbers, as I'm
sure you know, but then it was the governor and six cabinet officers.
H: So, you would argue that grassroots presence had a genuine effect on policy.
W: Well, because it gave the public a forum that they could come up here and be
heard. For instance, on the Cross Florida Barge Canal, we had a two-day
hearing, which ended up with the state withdrawing its support for the Cross
Florida Barge Canal, and then some of the hearings, like on the Bay County
beach setback line, went on from like 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. in the morning
without a break, listening to something like sixty people. Of course, the governor
and cabinet sent its other executive boards to hearings on such matters as
sheriff's budget appeals, computer purchases, on and on.
H: How do you think that your work with the Florida Department of Natural
Resources helped you in terms of your later career as environmental aide in
various Florida [organizations]?
W: Because I had worked in all thirty-seven coastal counties and crisscrossed the
state and had a chance for some unique observations of what was happening to
Florida, and also because of the travels, what was going on in the interior,
although that wasn't part of my beat, per se.
H: Share some of those unique observations. What sort of mentality do you have as
a result of that crisscrossing across the country? Did you have any particular
perspective or any issues that were especially important to you?
W: Well, of course, I had worked with a number of county planners and county
engineers in establishing bulk head lines around Florida. The bulk head line
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 4
represented the offshore limit of filling to alter the shorelines. I also had a chance
to observe the beginning of the interstate highway system and its effects on
communities. I saw where the Kissimmee River Project began to straighten the
Kissimmee River, change it from a meandering stream to a straight canal into
Lake Okeechobee. That's just a few of the things. Of course, my work took me
from Key West to Fernandina Beach to Pensacola, and those were the days
when you drove without air conditioning. It was a big event in the late 1950s
when we got the first air-conditioned car. Those trips used to be very grueling,
H: This might be a little bit off-topic, and maybe I'm sort of jumping ahead a little bit,
but is it true that either Claude Kirk specifically or the Republican party in general
[were] actually sort of forerunners in terms of the modern environmental
movement in Florida?
W: Claude Kirk [Florida governor, 1967-1971; unsuccessful candidate for U.S.
Senate, 1964] hired Nathaniel Reed for something like one dollar a year to be his
environmental advisor, and a lot of the things that happened pro-environmental in
those days were the result of Nathaniel Reed's work and influence [on] these
matters. At that time, because of some controversies that arose with some of the
inter-agency management work, and due to their recommendations, we ended
up having state-wide hearings to establish a system of aquatic preserves all
around Florida. Those were very well-attended, and they all eventually came to
Governor Kirk and the cabinet for approval, and then, later on, they were codified
into the Florida statutes. These were special areas that merited special attention
and protection. Now we have a system all over Florida that hopefully will serve
the state well in future decades, and even generations, to be, hopefully, inviolate
from dredging and filling and other activities that have occurred in the past.
H: So, you think that Nat Reed is a central figure in this, but do you think that
extended to the rest of the Republican Party, which was also coming on about
W: A lot of the people that were active in the environmental movement in St.
Petersburg and the lower east coastline were Republicans. It was pretty much bi-
partisan. It got to the point [where] it seemed like everyone wanted an Aquatic
H: This might also be sort of hopscotching a little bit around. I understand that in
terms of the department, there was maybe some problems with some of the
leadership, Elton Gisendanner and Harmon Shields. Could you comment on
W: Well, I guess the fact they both were incarcerated would indicate there was some
kind of problem.
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 5
H: What was the story behind those unfortunate situations?
W: As I recall, there were problems about certain activities related to land
acquisitions. There was a time that Governor Graham [Robert "Bob" Graham -
U.S. Senator from Florida, 1987-present; Florida governor, 1979-1987] and the
cabinet brought Jay Landers in to be interim director of that department when it
was in between problems. He had previously been at the trustees, then the first
secretary of the new DER, which is now the DEP.
H: There was a problem in terms of these particular tenures with land acquisitions?
Is corruption too strong of a word in this case?
W: Well, I don't know all the details, but I know that it was in the headlines. I don't
know all the ins-and-outs of what the various charges were.
H: Was this a function of the fact that it was a department that had these different
lines of authority that it was under? Did that play a role at all in terms of these
W: Of course, the appointments of both of those individuals were contested.
Governor Askew [Reubin O. Askew Florida governor 1971-1979; Florida state
senator, 1962-1970, president pro tempore of Florida Senate 1969-1970; Florida
state representative, 1958-1962] had supported Ney Landrum to head the DNR,
and by a four to three vote, which was somewhat influenced by the late Senator
Dempsey Barron [Florida state senator, 1960-1988; president of Florida senate,
1975-1976; Florida state representative, 1956-1960], Harmon Shields was
appointed. Then, of course, Dr. Gisendanner, who had been a veterinarian, was
appointed by another split vote. The other leading candidate at the time was Ken
Tucker, who was the assistant attorney general under Bob Shevin.
H: I'm going to jump into your work in the Askew administration. Is there anything
else that we should talk about in your early career traipsing about Florida?
W: Well, one of my first assignments was going over to the St. Lucie estuary near
Stuart, and there had been quite a furor over there over the discharge of flood
control waters through the canal in the estuary and its effect on sport and
commercial fisheries. We went there and you could see a plume of water and
you had the stratification between the surface muddy or freshwater area, and
then the lower area of saltwater. That is still an issue, and this is what, about fifty
years later? So, these problems don't solve themselves and they don't
automatically die. I don't know how much local color you guys might enjoy, but on
my trip from St. Petersburg to Stuart, I was accompanied by Salah El Zarka, who
was one of Egypt's up-and-coming young biologists and ichthyologists. He had
spent, he said, two miserable years at Utah State University, where the sun
never shone in the wintertime. But on the way over there, there was a place at
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 6
the northeastern corner of Lake Okeechobee that advertised sweet potatoes,
hush puppies, and catfish, all you can eat for $1.50, and El Zarka and I stopped
there. Before we left, he had a mound of vertebra about that tall. But he enjoyed
the trip over to Stuart.
H: That's a good story. Well, why don't we jump into your work in the Askew
administration. What was your formal title in the Askew administration?
W: Environmental Advisor, but, bureaucratically, I think I was called a governmental
H: And what specifically did your responsibilities entail in this capacity?
W: Cabinet affairs, legislative liaison, and work with the various environmentalists
and various environmental groups.
H: How did you come to gain this appointment?
W: I had been transferred and promoted to Tallahassee in November 1967 to head
up the survey and management section that would carry out the provisions of the
Randell-Thomas Act. I think that was Chapter 67-393, Laws of Florida, and that
for the first time required biological surveying on bulk head lines and dredging
and filling proposals. So, from 1967 until 1971, I was with the Board of
Conservation; it became the DNR. Then it was in the spring of 1971 that I joined
the Askew administration.
H: Did you know Askew personally? Was he familiar with your work?
W: I never met him until I got an award through the Capitol Press Corps, April 1,
1971, and that's the first time I'd met him. It was an award that was also
connected with the Tallahassee Democrat, and that was the first time I met
Governor Askew and Mrs. Askew. My wife was there, and it was the first time for
her too. Shortly after that I was invited to join the Askew administration. Of
course, before that I had worked with Jim Apthorp, who was Askew's first chief of
staff, and Jim had headed up the trustees earlier, and he had been involved in all
those statewide hearings on the aquatic preserve; both he, and then later
Randolph Hodges, who had been the past Senate president. You've heard of
him, he was the last "pork chop" Senate president. He's still alive; he lives in
Cedar Key. Then I'd also known Jay Landers, who was on Askew's staff through
cabinet matters and issues.
H: Why don't we jump in then with the 1971 Bal Harbor meeting on water. Did you
play a role in this meeting?
W: I played a role in setting it up, and this came about because you had a year or
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 7
two of deer drowning and muck burning in the Everglades. So, I was involved in
helping set that up. Through their recommendations, Ed Dail, of the Central and
Southern Florida Flood Control District, they brought in Professor John DeGrove,
University of Florida, to chair those meetings and be the facilitator, or whatever
they'd called that in those days. Jay Landers, of course, was involved in that, and
others in the administration. The mainstay agency in that was the DNR.
H: What format did the meeting take place in? Was it strictly state government
agencies that were involved?
W: No, all people from all walks of life had interests in water management. You had
different groups that came up with different issues and recommendations, and
then they pulled it together.
H: From the outset, what, specifically, were you trying to achieve in this meeting?
W: Well, to have better water management, as far as quality and quantity of water
goes, and also to be more environmentally sensitive as far as how public works
projects go. That's it in a nut-shell.
H: Could you get a little more specific about some of these other constituencies who
were involved in the meeting?
W: Well, there were environmental groups, Audubon [Society] and Florida Wildlife
Federation, and I think the Sierra Club was involved, I don't remember-of course
that's what, thirty-four years ago-it was a very lively meeting and very well-
attended and very well-publicized. It was the impetus for the major environmental
legislation in the 1972 legislature. It led, really, to the Water Resources Act, the
Environmental Land and Water Managers Act, and some statewide planning
H: How front and center was Governor Askew in these initiatives?
W: He gave the keynote address and gave them their charge. I presume in your
research you have some of that historical stuff from that meeting. South Florida
was the major district involved in that.
H: What sort of personalities or issues were involved that might not necessarily
show up in those speeches and transcripts that you're referring to? You said that
there were a lot of lively discussions. Did you get any sense of what issues were
sort of lurking in the background?
W: Well, there's development interests there who were invited, and they were
concerned about an overly intrusive government into these kinds of matters,
either over-regulation or permitting issues and that kind of thing. And, of course,
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 8
there were certain people who wanted the public works program to go on as it
always had. The DNR used to have an annual public works workshop and
hearing when all the proponents would come in to push for the various public
works projects. Of course, the big one then is the Central and South Florida
Flood Control District, which led to Save Our Everglades, ultimately, what's going
on today, trying to retrofit that plumbing system that developed. I had an
assignment once to go into Marco Island and go southeasterly from there into
Gullivan Bay and the Shark River area to see if there's any evidence that clams
had come back. Up until the middle of World War II, there were three clam
canning plants in Marco Island, and I think about 1942, they had harvested up to
about 140,000 bushels of hard-shell clams, and then that fishery just
disappeared. The clam is an estuarine species, more oceanic in its biochemical
requirements than, say, the scallop is, but something happened down there that
caused that population to disappear. It did coincide, though, with the major
changes that had occurred, like [the] construction earlier [of] the Tamiami Trail
through the Everglades and also the water discharge canals. So, they did
interrupt the historic sheet-flow of water from Lake Okeechobee through the
Everglades and the adjacent Big Cypress.
There was an issue that came up when I was still in St. Petersburg over
the proposal by the Southwest Florida Water Management District then to dam
upper Old Tampa Bay north of Courtney Campbell Causeway State Road 60 and
convert that into a freshwater lake. That was one of the major nursery grounds
for marine life-fishes, shrimps, oysters, so on-in the Tampa Bay system; there
was a big fight over that and that was not done. So, these things, these various
kind of proposed projects, were affecting some large-scale areas ecologically.
I don't know chronologically, we're skipping around a little bit
chronologically as far as sequentially, but in the spring of 1971, one of my first
exposures to the ACF, the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint water system, was
[when] I went to Dothan, Alabama, for a big meeting of Tri-Rivers Waterways
Association. At that meeting, Florida was represented by Randolph Hodges, and
the state of Alabama was represented by George Wallace, and the state of
Georgia was represented by Jimmy Carter. That's when the Army engineers
unveiled this large-scale proposal to convert the Apalachicola River into a series
of elongated locks and dams to hasten waterway traffic and development in that
tri-river system. They're even proposing that Sneads would become a seaport
and then maybe, ultimately, who knows, Atlanta. The late Robert Kerr [Governor
of Oklahoma, January 13, 1943, to January 13, 1947; U.S. Senator on November
2, 1948 to January 1, 1963] converted Tulsa, Oklahoma, into a seaport. Did you
know that? The Arkansas River System, as you go up there, is a series of locks
and dams. But anyways, as a result, Governor Askew had written a strong letter
saying, basically, leave the river alone. We have in the paper today where the
state of Florida is trying to get the Corps to stop the dredging project, because
you've got these huge mounds of sand they've pumped up to make enough of a
waterway-it's about twelve barges a year or something-and that's affected the
river flood plain and the fish and wildlife resources. According to Mr. L.L. Lanier,
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 9
it's affected the honey production. That was what, thirty-four years ago when I
went to that Dothan, Alabama, meeting.
H: Well, in terms of being a newly minted aide, now in politics and government, what
did you take from this 1971 meeting from seeing all these issues and
W: A lot of the contention, say in the Pinellas County area, was over private
development proposals, dredging and filling to bring lucrative real estate from
submerged lands. I came to the conclusion that the massive public works
projects posed an equal or greater threat than the accumulation of private
H: Talk a little bit about your personal transition. Was it difficult for you having
worked in the sort of hands-on science field to now being part of the state
government and being a liaison between all these different agencies? Was there
a bit of a learning curve for you personally, or did it come easily?
W: In my career, I was usually in t-shirts and dungarees, covered with mud and
seaweed. I stumbled across my wife after a ten year hiatus at [the] downtown St.
Petersburg post office. I jumped onto my old Volkswagen and I ran into her and
her grandmother and I was covered with mud and seaweed. Her grandmother
took one look at me and said, not him again! So, I came out of that background
from the field, and up here into the world of a coat and tie every day and into the
biopolitical world, which I'd been on the fringes of because I did have to
occasionally go to the county commission meetings and testify about
development proposals from a biological standpoint. This, of course, opened up
quite a new horizon, but it was quite a change in my wearing apparel of sitting
through a lot of meetings. You know government runs on meetings, and I didn't
have much of that when I was in St. Petersburg. Also, once you're known up
here, you get calls at all kinds of hours at home from different people, and
between the preparation for cabinet meetings, I would spend a lot of weekends
reading the cabinet agenda. With the legislature in session, you have to keep up
with legislative proposals. Later on, we'll get into it, I moved into a different phase
during the Graham administration. But, it was quite a transition.
H: Do you remember what lessons you had to take-you were referring to this new
biopolitical world-as you were adjusting to dealing and working with that, what
were your impressions of how that world functioned?
W: Well, one thing I quickly realized that, if you're going to make or write reports for
meetings, to try to have an economy of words, and, as much as possible, put it
on one page. There was backup material, but you just can't [write it all in the
report]. People are so busy up here, you can't expect to drop tomes on them and
expect them to read [it]. They have executive summaries and this and that, but I
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 10
found up here that I had to ultimately spend an inordinate amount of time editing,
getting people to write clearly, cogently, concisely. There's a dearth of that in
government. Up here, there's a lot of social life involved in government-I don't
say that in a pejorative way, but there are a lot of things that go on up here during
the legislative session and so on. You could spend a great deal of time just
eating and drinking if you're so disposed. I observed some young people that
could not handle that-the drinking end of it. I was sort of an odd person out
because I never went to Clyde's and Costello's. I'm a teetotaler, I went to work
and I came home, I didn't go to the watering spots and all that and do all the
mixing. I just never did that, but that's very much a part of government and that's
where a lot of the decisions and deals are made under those kinds of
H: And that's true even in the environmental political realm.
W: But I think it's true across the board. The golfing get-togethers, the tennis get-
togethers, and all that. I never was part of that scene. I never chose to be.
H: Why don't we talk about the 1972 Water Resources Act. What was your role in
W: It was not a leading role, it was a supportive role, and just trying to help whoever
wanted to help on that. Of course, we had in that session of the legislature Bob
Graham, [who], in effect, was the floor leader in the Senate in getting those
passed; he went to the trouble of understanding the various acts, including the
ELMS Act, the Environmental Land and Water Management [Act], and such
things as areas of critical state concern, developments of regional impact, and
that kind of thing. The Water Resources Act, the main thing was trying to get
these water management districts set up on hydrological divides rather than
political divides. This, of course, you're talking about surface waters. Another
concern, of course, is the Floridan Aquifer, which is the source of the first
magnitude springs of Florida and also runs up through central Florida and into
South Carolina. It's a tremendous resource. It goes under several water
management district boundaries. Anyways, it was set up on surface hydrology
and in the House of Representatives, Jack Shreve took a lead role in that. I don't
know how many people you're talking to in this project, and I guess, presumably,
someone made up a master list, and I hope Jack Shreve is on it.
V: [Mr. Jake Varn was also present for interview:] I think they just did Frank
Caldwell, who did a lot of his staff work. Jack Shreve is on the list and I think they
just interviewed Frank Caldwell.
W: Jack is retired public counsel for the Florida Public Service Commission.
H: Well, talk about this leading role that he did play, how did that manifest itself?
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 11
W: Just in learning issues, explaining the legislation, and so on. Out of that ELMS
Act and the area of critical state concern, you came up with a major water
management issue. The issue there was the Green Swamp area; an area of
critical state concern. Have you come across that?
W: And the potentiometric high and its source of four or five rivers. So you're familiar
H: As much as a historian can be.
W: That came vicariously out of the Water Management Conference in South
H: Why don't you just go ahead and state for the record: why did you favor the
hydrological setting of boundaries rather than the political boundaries for the
water management districts?
W: Because that's what made sense as far as water management goes. You
couldn't separate these water basins and hope to properly manage them. The
interesting thing of the ACF is, though, you've got a 19,000 square-mile water
base between the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers, and you have the lake there
in Gainesville, Georgia, which is a major source of water for Atlanta, which just
has an insatiable appetite. This is a big deal because the Apalachicola River
floods these and discharges more fresh water than all the other Florida rivers
combined. It's not just oysters, it's five species of commercial shrimp and various
sport and commercial fishes and so on. It's really worth fighting for and fighting
over. It was just timely for it to be in the paper today again.
H: What were you worried about if the districts had been set up according to political
W: Well, you'd have the watershed split and the district couldn't have any control of
what happened upstream of a certain area if that was in a different district. So,
you had to have some integrity there for management purposes.
[End of Tape A, Side 1.]
H: Another thing with the 1972 Water Resources Act is that there were an
exhaustive set of hearings. Could you talk a little bit about those?
W: That was in the legislature, and that's so, but I didn't sit through all of them
because this cabinet stuff was every week, and there's a lot of time spent on
those matters. We had people in our office that specifically dealt with the
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 12
H: Well, what was your sense of the various groups for or against the bill? Can you
sort of sketch that for me?
W: Well, there were concerns by agricultural interests as to how this might affect
them, because a lot of the South Florida agriculture was based on flood control
and land reclamation, and you had the winter vegetable farmers in Palm Beach
County, [in the] southeastern corner of Lake Okeechobee, you had the
sugarcane growers and so on, and I think there was general concern there about
there would be over-regulation or they would be red-taped for things they wanted
to do. At that time, I don't think there was quite the appreciation about the effect
of all these upstream things on the estuaries.
V: Talk about phosphate.
W: Oh yeah. It wasn't until Jay Landers, interim director at DNR, started] bringing
the phosphate mining reclamation projects to the governor and cabinet. It had
always been handled at the staff level, and, of course, the phosphate industry
uses a tremendous amount of water in their mining and processing. As I recall,
there was a cone of depression in the aquifer in southwest Florida that showed
up, and I don't know what the staff says now or how they ever tried to deal with it,
but it was down, I guess, in the area where the Floridan Aquifer kind of runs out.
The state now does have a major initiative on the first magnitude springs of
Florida and trying to preserve them. We have problems down at Wakulla Springs,
one of the major springs in Florida, with eutrophication and aquatic weed growth
and so on. I know Kissingen Springs in Polk County dried up some years ago. A
lot of the aquifer that feeds these springs, presumably, starts up in Georgia-no
one really knows because there's no way you can plumb all this and see where it
all comes from-but right now there's an issue here between the city of
Tallahassee and its sprayfield, and whether that's discharging nutrients into
Wakulla Springs. Someone else wants to extract water for bottling down in
H: What about some of the other factionalism associated with this 1972 Water
Resources Act? What was the position of the Corps of Engineers, for example,
about the district?
W: I don't remember that the Corps got directly involved.
V: Ken, what about the fights that were going on in the Tampa Bay area? Was that
anything that you got involved with at this time?
W: Well, earlier I had been peripherally involved in the fight over damming off upper
Old Tampa Bay because during that time I'd done a biological survey for the
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 13
Tampa Port Authority, and we had sampling stations all over within their
jurisdiction, and it identified that area as a nursery and feeding ground. [It was]
an important part of the marine ecosystem. I hate to use that word, it's gotten
overused. When that became a big issue, of course they were relating to some of
our findings. I'd been involved with a Dr. Victor Springer, now at the Smithsonian,
for many years. [He] did a study of the fishes of the Tampa Bay area. We had
done a lot of sampling around Tampa Bay, and all these studies showed the
great importance of seagrass beds in the marine productivity. You could go out
and sample a sandy bare bottom and get very few fish or shrimp; you'd go
nearby in the seagrass area and just get dozens and dozens of shrimp and fish.
The seagrass beds were the ones that were being dredged up, either to fill or get
fill, for waterfront development. That was just a major issue in Pinellas County,
Dade County, Sarasota County, and just all over Florida. At one time, Pasco
County had bulkhead lines set two miles out into the Gulf of Mexico, which was
H: What about the environmentalists? Were they united in support of the 1972
Water Resources Act, or did they take differing views on it?
W: I don't remember any dissent on that. They participated in the Bal Harbor
H: My understanding is that there were a number of amendments to the original bill.
Do you recall that or know the story behind why there were so many of those?
W: Well, you're familiar with the taxing rate for Northwest Florida Water
Management District, or are you?
W: [Their taxing rate is] 0.05 mils. Some said they meant to say 0.5, but 0.05 is
1/20th of a mil, and that was something that was part of the passage of the
[amendments] that was insisted on by certain interests in northwest Florida.
H: What interests were those specifically?
W: Well, Senator Dempsey Barron, St. Joe Paper, is that enough?
W: And you still have that same rate. They felt at one time the rest of the state
should not subsidize northwest Florida; I guess that's the way it's worked out,
and no one has touched that. I think [Alfred] Al Lawson, a local black senator
here, had broached the subject, but it doesn't get broached very forcefully.
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 14
H: My understanding is that the proposed water use was supposed to be
"reasonable and beneficial." What precisely did that mean in your understanding,
W: I don't know. I found it kind of esoteric.
H: Did anybody know what it meant?
W: Well, I don't know. I'll be candid when I need to be.
H: Talking about the original decision to make a sixth district, what happened with
W: A sixth district?
V: Do you want me to help you, Ken?
W: Yeah, I don't recall what you're talking about, unless you're talking about the
Florida Keys or something.
V: No, if you'll remember, in 1972 there were two existing districts: South Florida
and Swiftmud. To make the transition you had, for example, Manatee and
Sarasota were not in Swiftmud, and you had that area, Collier County and Lee
County, that were not part of South Florida. I also think there was a ridge, the
Highlands Ridge, and they created as an interim district [for] those left-out areas
that were ultimately merged into South Florida and Swiftmud. I don't know if you
remember any of those things, but there was, in fact, a sixth water management
district early on, that later was dissolved, because geographical areas were
absorbed by either Swiftmud or South Florida. I don't know if you have any
recollection of that. Somehow I was thinking Bob Clark may have been involved
with them, or Mary Kumpe or Bob Rhodes.
W: I don't remember dealing with that, but, of course, I'm familiar with that area
down there because you don't have as rich an aquifer as you do in central
Florida, the Floridan Aquifer. If you get down south of Tampa Bay, of course, St.
Petersburg lost its water supply years ago. They thought maybe Weeki Wachee
Springs would be a source of water, but they never did it, and now they've sold it.
Then the Florida Keys were a special consideration because of the Florida Keys
Aqueduct. That was eventually named an area of critical state concern, but along
comes some government grant to finance expansion of the aqueduct. Jack Maloy
said, everyone take a shower with a friend, when they got that water down there.
But it didn't seem compatible with the effort to control growth in the Keys by
bringing this new aqueduct in.
H: In terms of when these districts were set up, what was the logistics of the taxing
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 15
W: Well, the logistic was to have a uniform taxing authority with the ability to go up to
one mil, as I recall, and as I said, northwest Florida was treated differently.
H: Right. Was that a sticking point, or was that a particularly controversial aspect at
W: It was a way to get the bill passed, in the past that hadn't happened.
H: What else do historians need to know about this Water Resources Act that I
haven't asked about?
W: Well, I remember that there was a debate down at Old Hilton Hotel between Bob
Graham and Wade Hopping, who represented a lot of development interests. He
is a former aide to Claude Kirk and a [Florida] Supreme Court justice briefly, and
they were debating the ELMS Act. Somewhere along the line, as I recall, Wade
suddenly said, hey, this Water Resources Act may be more significant than the
ELMS Act. But also I remember, later on, when they got to the point of reviewing
regional land management plans, they opted to go with the regional planning
councils and the Department of Community Affairs rather than the Water
Resources and the Water Management Districts. That, I thought, was significant,
and you could argue that both ways. But water resources, I think, probably will
determine growth management and control more than anything.
H: Would you agree with that assessment, that the Water Resources Act ended up
being even more important than the ELMS Act?
W: I think the ELMS Act has lost a lot of its impetus because you had the area of
critical state concern provision, and that's pretty much run its course with the
Green Swamp, Florida Keys, and the Apalachicola area, and also the DRI thing
has been changed around. The DRIs were any project that affected more than
one county because its size, location, and character. You just don't hear much
about DRIs anymore. So, I think that the Department of Community Affairs has
had a lot of stuff added to it, whereas the Water Management Districts are more
focused, [they] have more real power than the Community Affairs. Of course, the
Regional Planning Councils, they go through and they make their plans and so
on, they're reviewed up here and equally debated and so on. But water is just a
driving force; I don't know if you've ever read Cadillac Desert [Cadillac Desert:
The American West and its Disappearing Water, 1993] or not, the history of
water management in California and the west and the gigantic projects out there
and what occurred with them. It's a tremendous story about water power and
water politics out West. But you have in South Florida a fairly discreet aquifer
down there, the Biscayne Aquifer, you never hear much about anymore, but that
was the sole source of drinking water for the Gold Coast. Now, of course, they
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 16
bring stuff in. They talk about water storage areas, this and that, there's always
been misconception over water storage areas and water recharge areas. We
have, for the Floridan Aquifer, we have in these Tallahassee hills, we have real
water recharge areas. But the Everglades were not water recharge areas
historically for aquifers, and there isn't that distinction made much in the public
mind between aquifers and surface waters and so on, but there's a significant
H: Let's spend some more time on this 1973 ELMS Act. What, specifically, was
attained by this act? Was it just the regional impact statements and the protocol
for using those?
W: Areas of critical state concern, that was one of their first major initiatives, the
Green Swamp, and that's still an active program, but I don't know who's judging
its overall effectiveness, because since then you've had so much growth in there.
The Interstate-4 corridor, the arrival of Disney World, Universal, and everything
all around it, and there's floods of growth in the Tampa Bay area, and this thing
lies between Orlando and the Tampa Bay area. But I think it was a farsighted
thing. I don't know how familiar you've been with the Green Swamp area, has it
come up before?
H: Not much.
W: Well, I think it's something that, historically, is important because you have the
Ocklawaha, Withlacoochee, Peace and Hillsborough Rivers emanating from it. It
has the potentiometric high in Florida. Do you know potentiometric?
H: I've heard the term.
W: That's the highest artesian pressure to get in the Floridan Aquifer, and that was a
big deal up here then. But most of the people who worked on that are gone, and I
don't know how committed the new breed at DCA is to the Green Swamp critical
H: My understanding is that the main source of opposition to the ELMS Act was
from farmers. Is that accurate?
W: And developers.
H: And developers?
H: And the source of their displeasure derived from what?
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 17
W: The perceived interference or over-regulation of government. We had the same
thing when we went around the state and all these aquatic preserve hearings.
They were very well-attended, very contentious, and we had to come back here
and write it up and present it to the governor and cabinet. Setting St. Joseph's
Bay aside was very contentious. The late Senator George Tapper fought that, but
we got it through, because that's one of the major scalloping grounds, and it was
also an area that could be eyed for a lot of dredging for port development. But
since then, St. Joe Paper is no longer, the whole character of that is, I guess, St.
Joe, of all places, like Apalachicola being gentrified. [It] has been discovered as a
place for people to retire, and artists and craftsmen that come in and, ultimately,
price out the natives. The same thing is happening in the Blue Ridge Mountains,
where we [he and his wife] spend about half the year. The natives are being
priced out of their own land. They have to go down the mountain to shop and to
live. And you're finding that, I suppose, in Cedar Key now. You could probably
get there from Gainesville, but the huge condos [are] up on pilings. All the old
traditional commercial fishing villages of Florida like Chokoloskee, Oak Hill, Port
Salerno, Coconut and Estero Bay, Cedar Key, Apalachicola, and so on, are
being gentrified. With the net ban, there have just been hundreds, if not
thousands, of people who earned their living gathering fish, harvesting fish, that
are out of business.
V: Ken, let me interrupt for a minute. You've talked about areas of critical state
concern, and you've spent most of the time on the Green Swamp, but there were
two original areas of critical state concern, the Green Swamp and Big Cypress.
I'm presuming you had something to do with Big Cypress, but I may be in error.
Were you involved with Big Cypress at all?
W: Yeah, and then, of course, we eventually got the Big Cypress National Preserve
out of that.
B: Can you recollect anything?
W: Well, of course, that was an area where development pressures from the
Naples/Ft. Myers area was spreading into the Big Cypress. There was also
proposals for expanding hydrocarbon or petroleum development in the area. And
there was a lot of activity going on there with hunters and fishermen and people
with their swamp buggies tearing around and so on. There was a proposal for the
critical area in there, but it got to the congressional level, where it got approved
as a national preserve. Nathaniel Reed was involved up there, he was in
Washington at the time, and I think Dante Fascell [south Florida congressman]
and some of those old-timers in Congress were involved. It never to me,
though had the water management or fresh water resources implications of the
Green Swamp. That's why I dwell on that, since we're more in water
management. This was a natural area, the Big Cypress, and there were Indians
in there and so on. And the Florida Keys, of course, we had a tumultuous hearing
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 18
on that down there, and that involved imported water and what was happening in
the Keys. Of course, that's all going by the board now. Key West is a different
world than it was then, when they had that hearing down there.
H: My understanding in terms of the ELMS Act is that Senator Jim Williams had to
work out a compromise that permitted the bill to actually pass. Can you recount
some of the details of that?
W: I don't; I wasn't privy to that.
H: Okay. Talk a little more about these regional impact statements. Are they done
by the district or by the local government? What is required of them? What's the
protocol for using those?
W: Well, it was a development proposal that, because of size, character, [and]
location, would affect more than one county with the DRI, but it all seemed to
come down to size. [Size] seemed to be the dominant thing more than character.
To me, it just sort of has run out of gas as a determinant in twenty-first century
H: It's an anachronism?
W: Well, I suppose it's something that St. Joe/Arvida is doing. Obviously this is
portentous in remaking this part of Florida and coming out of the DRI process,
but the others, though, just appear to me to sort of get lost in the shuffle.
H: What else about the ELMS Act is important for future environmentalists and
historians to know?
W: I think the critical area may need to be regenerated. I think, for instance, a critical
reading of the ELMS Act, its intents and purposes and so on, and because of the
tremendous state investment in this area and Wakulla Springs and so on, a good
team of lawyers could make a salient argument that Tallahassee and Leon
County should be designated as an area of critical state concern. That's just my
opinion as an old biologist, but if any area needs some help, this is it. We've got
two warring governments, you've got tremendous state investments, and you've
got the future of Wakullah Springs and the St. Mark's and Wakulla Rivers and so
on, that need some help. I'm not saying turn this into the District of Columbia, but
you know, just ... Jay could ask his friend Nancy, what's this wild idea that Ken
Woodburn came up with? But I think in watching this, having lived here since
1967 and seeing ...
When we came here, it was decided then that the professionals in the old
state road department in aligning 1-10 in this area, their first recommendation was
to come through Tallahassee as a crosstown expressway, their second
recommendation was to go south of town through the piney flatwoods and mainly
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 19
through several big ownerships, and the third recommendation is where they
put it, out in the Lake Jackson area in an area of the Tallahassee Hills, which
was superior topography-[they] were going to grow anyways-and now you have
a new city that's sprung up north of town. Whereas our south side, primarily a
black area, is dormant, and now they have all these schemes to revitalize the
south side. Hell, they've been trying to revitalize it since we've been here. It's the
same way with Frenchtown, historical black area, where they had pecan groves
originally. I was concerned that, as Tallahassee tried to affect the state and do
things for the state and get better land and water management, that here in the
capital city, we should be able to set an example for the rest of the state, and I
just don't think that what has happened here was, or is, a good example for the
rest of Florida. We have this big bond issue to have a Cascade Park Trail from
Leon High School on down to Lake Munson, and they're going to offer us four
different proposals. One will have a restored baseball field, one will have an
amphitheater for the performing arts, and so on. There's been recent letters to
the editor applauding it and criticizing it, but essentially you've got to take
advantage of this and convert it into the San Antonio River Walk or something
like that and spend millions and millions to do it. But on the other hand, you have
just a tremendous explosion of growth and development northeast of town, which
is what I think is one of the major recharge areas for the Floridan Aquifer.
You're a historian, or are going to be, hopefully. North of town here, I don't
know what Jay thinks of all this, I never discuss any of this with him, but north of
town here, we have a new 62.4 million dollar high school that was built in an area
well north of a then-major development. It cost twice as much as a comparably-
sized high school in Pasco County, it's ninety percent white-when we're
supposed to be equalizing things-and it's way the heck out there going towards
Georgia, and it's sitting there on a recharge area. At the same time now, they
discovered that the south side high schools are run down and they want their
new high school, but you can bet they're not going to spend about sixty-three
million dollars building a high school in a predominantly black area.
H: There's all sorts of issues at play with that kind of stuff.
W: But these are the kinds of things that you observe and you think about when
you're really outside of government. I've been retired, this is my eighteenth year,
and you get a different perspective on things when you're outside of that constant
grind of government-you know, the meetings, the reports, the disputes, the
issues. Like Bonnie said, why didn't you ever discuss your work with me? And I
said, because I don't want to, my entire career evolved around various kinds of
disputes over something or issues. I'd come here and spend my weekend
reading cabinet agendas.
H: No wonder you wanted to retire.
W: And for awhile I was chief cabinet aide and chaired the cabinet aides, and I had
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 20
to read every damned agenda, not just the environmental ones.
H: In terms of Governor Askew, what was his view on Water Management District?
How did he approach working with them?
W: Well, he was quick to recognize that water management and water resources
were vital to the future of Florida, and that's why he had that governor's
conference on that. He supported it all along, just like he plunged into the
Apalachicola thing. He had a staff and the political allies that would help on it, like
Bob Graham, who spent a tremendous amount of time studying the issues. A lot
of complicated issues come up before the legislature that a lot of the legislators
really haven't read thoroughly, or really don't know whether they should vote pro
or con, but Bob Graham was very studious and meticulous, so he was an integral
part of getting the Askew agenda through the 1972 legislature.
H: What was the extent to which Governor Askew supervised the districts and
played a role in the day-to-day managing?
W: He did it mostly through his staff, and then, of course, he made the appointments
and he would deal with the appointments. I wasn't privy to his conversations with
individual board members, but that's a very key part of a governor's power and
prerogatives, are appointees to the various boards. Appointees to the Water
Management Districts were, I think, among the most important he made.
H: Talk about some of these appointees then. Which would end up particularly
critical in your opinion?
W: You mean the agency or the personnel or what?
W: Well, of course, Bob Clark was very involved for some years with the South
Florida Water Management District, and people like Derril McAteer and Buddy
Blaine with Southwest Florida, known as Swiftmud. So, those are the two major
ones. And, of course, I'm just trying to think back, I was trying to think if Jerry
Scarborough had come to the Suwannee River yet or not. He was toward the
end, I guess.
V: He came along with Graham because Don Morgan, if you'll remember, he came
from South Florida.
W: Yeah, so that was a transitional thing. But those are several examples. Derril
McAteer served, I guess, as long as about anyone. So did Bob Clark. Bob Clark
was Jim Smith's brother-in-law; Jim Smith the former attorney general and so on.
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 21
H: So, why were these particular appointees so influential in your opinion?
W: Because they were people with long residency and [had] interest and knowledge
of their areas. Derril McAteer had an extensive background in agriculture and
working with the Lykes family and so on. Bob Clark's family was involved in
agriculture and law enforcement and various things in Broward County. That's
just two examples; there are others. Mary Kumpe, the woman from Sarasota,
was involved. She was on a water management district and she was an
environmentalist. But I can't recall others right now; see, there again, that's thirty-
something years ago.
H: Well, talk a little bit about your interaction with the water management districts,
and what did that work entail?
W: If I needed information or various things would come up, I would talk with Jack
Maloy, who was the executive director of South Florida, or Woody Wodraska, his
assistant then successor, and I dealt with Derril McAteer and I talked to Buddy
Blaine, [and] different people with Southwest Florida. [I didn't have] much
involvement with Northwest. I think on the Suwannee River District there had
been some issues over there over Occidental chemical and phosphate mines
and in land reclamation. But most of the involvement was with Southwest and
South Florida, because, between the two of them, you had about, I suppose,
almost two-thirds of the state's population. Wherever you have population, you
have issues and problems.
H: Mr. Varn, do you want to follow up on any of this?
B: No, I just wanted to get that perspective from Ken. This is about Water
Management Districts, and where he was sitting, I think that was good.
H: In 1975, when Natural Resources shifted to DER to set up the field offices to
work with the districts, can you talk about how that functioned, was that effective
in your opinion?
W: The DNR then had the marine control, and then you had the districts that were
involved with other issues. I think it was a good thing because it gave statewide
coverage and coordination and liaison in those areas. Of course, there had been
a big fight over reorganization of environmental agencies in the 1970s as to what
to do, and I remember we had once proposed to bring the salt and freshwater
people together, and then having the pollution control agency, and then having,
basically, a land managing agency-that'd be the management of state lands, that
would be state parks, sovereignty lands, submerged lands, and so on. But they
didn't go that way, so they did some other things with the new DER and this and
that, which became the DEP. And then with the DEP, or old DNR, it lost the
marine control and it went over to the Fish and Wildlife Commission. That's
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 22
something that we had recommended originally, but it didn't happen.
V: Let me [interrupt], because I'm a little confused by the question. Ken, there were
two reorganizations really, right?
V: Because in 1975 is when DER was created, and that was part of it, and then later
in the 1990s, and I don't remember when they merged DER and DNR, but you
were saying that what you all wanted done in 1975, they finally did in the 1990s.
As we said, you used to have the gray uniforms and the green uniforms, and
early on, they couldn't mix them. Then they finally got that done. Was that
legislatively or constitutionally [amended] in the 1990s?
W: I think it was a constitutional vote to establish the Fish and Wildlife Commission,
and that's when they finally brought the marine control in there. Like I said
before, you didn't know the characters involved, but the late Earl Fry was a big
guy with game and fish and hunting and all that. Randolph Hodges headed up
the DNR, and that's when they got involved in some of these different feuds, and
then they said Earl Fry's birds ate Randolph Hodges' fishes. You would have to
know some of these characters to appreciate this. As I mentioned, Randolph
Hodges is in Cedar Key, and as I understand he may be in a hospice now, but
his son-in-law, Don Duden, has an art and sculpturing place right next to his
father-in-law's home, right on the main drag there. He's married to Randolph
Hodges' daughter, who's retired from the local school system. Don does beautiful
woodwork and all that. But anyways, Randolph Hodges, who was a lifelong
resident of Cedar Key, his son Gene [Hodges] was a legislator after him, was the
last pork chop Senate president. You know what the Pork Chop Gang [group of
disproportionately powerful north Florida politicians] is?
W: He was appointed head of the Board of Conservation/DNR by the then new
governor, Farris Bryant of Ocala. His predecessor, Ernest Mitts, had been
appointed by LeRoy Collins. Ernest Mitts was a Fort Myers legislator. I don't
know whether he's dead or alive now, last time I heard he was in the hospital-but
he later became a local entrepreneur and built a Hilton Hotel and so on. He used
to have a cigar store and magazine/newspaper place in downtown Fort Myers
next to the Hotel Bradford, and that's when he got elected to the state legislature.
[End of Tape A, Side 2.]
V: There before Randolph.
W: Yeah. In fact, there was a photo that turned up at the old state marine lab, and no
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 23
one knew who Ernest Mitts was, so they asked me. I said, oh, that's Ernest Mitts,
he was the guy who got the first air-conditioned cars for state government, which
was a major event then. I can't emphasize how grueling [it was]. In a ten day
period in the 1950s out of St. Petersburg, I went to Fernandina Beach, Key West,
and Pensacola driving in a non-air-conditioned car. You'd have the windows
open and it would be summertime, just terribly enervating. People just don't
appreciate Florida before air-conditioning; it was terrible.
H: Back in 1975, in terms of the relationship between Natural Resources-or then
DER-and working with the water management districts, I'm a little unclear on
who had the final authority, and the influence that the department had on the
districts' actions and decisions. Can you lead me through that a little bit?
W: Well, one thing was, as I recall, the statute said that either the DER or the
secretary of DER would have supervisory authority over the water management
V: The magic words, Ken, is they had "general supervisory authority." Those were
the key statutory words, which are still there today.
W: It never happened.
V: Well, what does it mean?
W: [laughing.] That's right, but that was some legislative attempt apparently to try to
bring it all together. They hadn't included them all in such things as state water
plan and all that. Then eventually they got off on things like ecosystem
management, which you don't hear about anymore, and then just like the old
OPB [Office of Planning and Budget] tried to foist off agency functional plans on
all the agencies, and then they had things like policy clusters and all kinds of
things. It appeared to me that so many times the process procedure became
more important than results, or issues or objectives, but I guess maybe that's the
nature of government. I don't want to get ahead of us here-you've got some
more systematic questions?
H: Not so much, I mean, we can move on to the Graham administration if you want,
but you can continue with your thought if you'd like, or if Mr. Varn wants to
W: Well, do you want to move on to the Graham administration?
H: That's fine.
W: Okay, because Governor Graham asked me to stay on as environmental advisor
for his administration. Then, in about a year or less, I was asked to head-up the
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 24
natural resources unit of the governor's new Office of Planning and Budgeting.
The OPB was an effort to try to bring the number-crunchers and the planners
together to meld it all so you'd have a better overall approach to things, [it would
be] more coordinated. So, I moved from the Capitol to the Carlton Building, and
ultimately on my retirement on February 7, I had a staff of, I guess, fourteen
there. We dealt with about four or five agencies and their budgets and all that,
but also my unit developed the Save Our Coast, Save Our Rivers, and Save Our
Everglades initiatives and programs. Of course, we had different people there
who dealt with cabinet affairs and legislation in general, but I found out that the
budget stuff, the number-crunching, became the driving force in an operation like
that. It may be the nature of things-they say follow the money trail-and it's a
grinding and grueling process dealing with agency budgets and the agencies.
There were efforts within OPB to coordinate with each agency so that
each agency would have an agency functional plan. The planners talked about
policy clusters and things like this and that. A lot of it seemed pretty arcane to
me, but you go through all these exercises and you see administrations come
and go, and they always come in with bright young people and many innovative
ideas, and everybody gets embroiled in this process. Then you'd have things like
reviewing initiatives and issues with the National Governor's Association, and
you'd have to prepare Florida's responses in your area of expertise or
assignment. The budget crunch time was usually over the Christmas/New Year's
holiday. Traditionally, I'd always take off between Christmas and New Year's to
do family stuff, so for about a period of seven years, though, I could no longer do
that. You talk about impact. We were involved in issues of off-shore oil drilling. In
my unit, we had, through the coastal's own management money, an attorney, a
marine biologist, three number crunchers-pure budget people-a couple of
planners, an intern or two-that was very helpful-and, of course, we had support
But I, then, was in the mode of pretty much trying to keep the work
flowing, stay out of people's way, spend an inordinate amount of time editing-I
can't overemphasize that-trying to cut and prune, saying, can't you get it on one
page? I learned that governors are tremendously busy, and if you're going to
send them something that will influence them and impress them, put it on one
page if you can. I'm not saying you can always do that, some things are too
complex, but I'd bring stuff at home and work here at night pruning and whittling
and marking out unnecessary phrases, and down through the years, certain buzz
words or phrases just drove me to distraction. Words like "parameters,"
"paradigms," "at this particular point in time," "the fact of the matter is,"
"subsequent to," instead of "after." I can point out each instance. Of course, it
was things like "policy clusters" and "decision-making process," you don't
"decide," it's a "decision-making process." [It went] on and on, and it became
almost a crusade with me in the end to try to [cut these down], but, ultimately, I
learned one person can't do it, you can't turn this around. I once jocularly
proposed a state word economist to cut down on the verbiage. I don't know if you
can absorb that or not, you come out of a different era and background.
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 25
V: [They just have] different words, Ken; "new tools in the toolbox," "adaptive
management," "it's got to be a transparent process." The people today have their
own set of buzzwords, which typically when I give a speech I say, I've got a
sentence that's put together to use all the buzzwords. So I say, you won't hear
those words anymore, but just so you guys will know that I'm up to date with you,
I'm using these words for you.
W: Well, it's little things like someone's got to say, I support this, they'll say, I am
supportive of. You see it even in the Democrat types. Journalist are supposedly
all right, but a lot of them donate more to them. It's epidemic.
H: I've had to teach a lot of journalists at UF, or budding journalists, so I "feel your
pain," to use another catch-phrase. Why don't you compare the Graham and
Askew administrations in terms of how they approached environmental matters?
W: Have you ever been exposed to Bob Graham and his little notebook?
H: I haven't seen the notebook, but I have met him.
W: He was very meticulous, he took down everything. He made notes and
everything, and he just always sort of had his head down writing in his little book.
Until one day, we had a meeting with some Japanese troops, and about twelve of
them came in and they got out their little notebooks. He would be doing one line,
and these guys would be filling a whole page with their hieroglyphics. He saw
them, he put his pen down and just watched these guys in sort of disbelief-I don't
know whether you remember this or not-but I had a hard time keeping a straight
face, I doubt if I did. But Graham enjoyed the cabinet meetings and really used
the cabinet as sort of his own. He'd give them assignments and he would get in
to all the details.
Askew was impatient with the cabinet-he did not particularly care for the
cabinet system. Of course, he had a different cast of characters in his time than
Graham did. This is part of the dynamic, he had Tom O'Malley, State Insurance
Commissioner, and, of course, Attorney General Bob Shevin, and there was
Ralph Turlington, whom the Turlington building [at UF] is named after, that's in
Gainesville. So, it was an entirely different cast of characters on the Cabinet, and
[different] dynamics. Askew was interested in focusing in on the goals and the big
picture, but he did not get into the details as much, whereas Graham enjoyed the
details. He seemed delighted when Jay Landers brought him the phosphate land
reclamation plans for the first time for them to go over, which as I said, had
always been handled at the staff level. Jay recognized these are too important.
We didn't get those plans during the Askew years. Bob Graham would get
intimately involved in the press corps skits. Have you heard of them up here?
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 26
W: He performed, and he really did well. He played different characters that were on
television. I never watched, but who was that guy who was like a magician? Do
you remember? But anyways, Graham really worked on ...
V: That was the Great Carnack.
H: Johnny Carson.
V: Yeah, Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon routines.
W: See, I never watched them, but he got into all that and he enjoyed the touch
football games. Askew played softball and he got involved in some of the touch
football games. That was all in the Kennedy family tradition. We were playing the
attorney general's office once, and Governor Askew was pitching, and a
grounder was hit to the third baseman, Doug Sessions, and Doug fired the ball at
first and Askew didn't get his head out of the way. He was felled and everyone
swarmed around him. He wasn't unconscious, he was stunned, and Bob Sheven
came running out because he was going to run for governor the next time-which
he did-but Graham came from behind in the second primary and beat him. But
as far as management style goes, this is just sort of dynamics stuff, I'm not
philosophical as far as grand government designs go, but Askew was a strict
teetotaler, he didn't serve liquor at the mansion. You'd go to the Christmas
parties and stuff there and there was none of that, and the parties didn't last very
long either. But Graham's was more wide open.
H: How would you compare the two administrations in terms of the results they had
in impacting the environment in Florida?
W: Well, as a result of the 1972 package, those were major initiatives, but then Bob
Graham came along and had to implement a lot of that stuff, which was in its
formative stage after 1972. I think that, between Askew and Graham, you had
sixteen years of unparallel progressive and good government in Florida. Perhaps
the greatest four terms-two terms each-in the history of the state. I think that's
probably the most important thing. The legislatures were entirely different then,
because you didn't have two terms then out; you had people that had continuity,
expertise, and I hate to use it, but sort of institutional memory of the legislative
process, what went on in the agencies, which you don't have anymore. So, I
don't know that, because of that, if you'll ever have a comparable period. Of
course, you had the Martinez interlude, and then Lawton Chiles and all that, but
the two term limit has had a tremendous impact up here on the workings of the
government and governors.
V: Can I interject for a moment? Ken, you worked for both Askew and Graham, but
don't you think both of them were really visionaries? You used the words
progressive. To me, both of them were looking way down the road, they weren't
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 27
day-to-day people. They may have had different styles, but they were looking at
what are the long term implications of what we're doing.
W: Of course, Graham had a historical perspective [because] his father, Ernest
Graham, had been a state senator. [He had] an entirely different family
background than Askew. Askew didn't have a father in his life, and his mother
was a maid at a hotel in Pensacola, whereas Graham came from an entirely
different background. They were not only visionary, but I think both were moral
and ethical. Within those sixteen years, I think it's pretty unusual that there's no
hint of scandal involving them. You see what's happening around America.
Historically, that's important, that continuity between the two of them and the
close working relationship to get those 1972 acts passed.
H: Well, talk a little bit about how the social and political context had changed over
the course of those four terms. In terms of environmentalism in Florida, was it a
bigger topic, or were everyday people more engrossed in it, or was there more
opposition to environmentalism? How did that change over those four terms?
W: Well, of course, the environmental movement came to fruition during the Askew
years, and then it continued virtually unabated during the Graham years. I know
that, at my twentieth high school reunion in St. Petersburg, I got an award for
having the most unusual occupation because I put down there, marine ecologist-
I didn't know what else to call myself-and they thought that was so unusual that
they awarded me for having the most unusual occupation. But since then, of
course, and that was in 1964, ecology and environment and all that's become
sort of a household word. It was only during the Askew years that it came to
fruition. Now there had been a lot of ferment during the Kirk years, and things
were done up here at the administrative level with the trustees because of Kirk
following Nathaniel Reed's direction and recommendations. But the legislative
stuff happened in 1972, and then Graham carried that on and he understood
what it was about. If it had been some other governor that hadn't been involved
so directly, so intimately, in the 1972 legislative session, then you wouldn't have
had the same results.
H: Well, you started to touch on this a little bit, but talk about Bob Graham's
relationship with the water management districts, and his appointees, for
W: He, I know, spent a lot of time in deciding who to appoint, and it was something
that interested him very much. I wasn't involved in the appointments process,
that was handled then by Kathy Kelley, who you may or may not know or heard
of, but I know he thought those were among the most important appointments he
made, if not the most important. Except one of his pet interests was the Board of
Regents and his work with Charlie Reed on that; that may not be a name known
to you. I mention it because Charlie's still influential with Graham, he's the
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 28
chancellor of the California State University System, and he had been the
chancellor of the Florida State University System during the Graham years. In
fact, Graham nominated him, or named him. So, I think those are the two
agencies that interested him most, the Board of Regents, education, and the
appointments to the water management districts, as well as to the DER Board.
H: In this new position that you had in planning and budgeting, how did your working
relationship with the water management districts change as part of that role?
W: Well, I had a lot more to say grace over, and I didn't have the time to get involved
in much personally, not to say I'd been involved a lot in the first place during the
Askew years, but I had to leave it to staff and we had to do things. So, I wasn't
involved as much then. It's just because during the Askew years I was it, with
[just] a secretary, and then during the Graham years [at] OPB, I had a staff of
about fourteen or fifteen, and I just couldn't get too much involved with [every
issue]. In the governor's office, there are always people who will try to get you
involved in personnel matters, and I would not do that, I just refused to do it. I
won't go into any details, but once you got into that and the word was out, that's
all you'd do. I remember once one chief of staff said he didn't realize when he
took the job how much management personnel stuff he'd have to get involved in.
The governor's office is just the most visible job in Florida, and working there-it's
unlike any other agency just because of the visibility and importance of the office
and the demand. Being a good governor is a grueling, practically 24/7 job, it
really is, and Askew, I remember, would make phone calls all around late at night
working on things.
H: Over these four terms that you were serving governors, how did you see the
water management districts changing and evolving?
W: Well, [they had] more prominence, more notoriety, more complicated issues,
more nuances. They just reflect the phenomenal growth of Florida and the things
that the government and government agents have to deal with. I mean, if you're
getting-in the last twenty years- one thousand new people a day coming into the
state, it's just an inexorable human tide. You just wonder how long it can keep
up. About two years ago, there was someone preaching carrying capacities, we
shouldn't do this or that unless we know what the carrying capacity of a past year
was or a capacity to the state, but it may be coming to that somewhere along the
line. Do we want Florida to have the population density of Bangladesh or Calcutta
or Bombay? When I drive down to St. Petersburg along U.S. 19 and you think
about all the new laws and regulations and you look at just a strip development
and you wonder, where did we go wrong, or is there no end to it? When you go
into towns like Dunellon and Inverness now, even-growth areas, or places I used
to stop at traveling around the state, Yeehaw Junction or Kissimmee or Devil's
Garden or places like that, you can't help [but wonder].
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 29
I was [out] at my grandchildren's in Texas and, all of a sudden, the one
grandson out there said, you realize, Grandpa, you're the family patriarch? And I
am, but I hadn't thought of it before. Ever since then I've felt older. I'm being
philosophical, but I've seen what's happened up here in the thirty-seven years
we've been here. When we came here there was a Morrison's Cafeteria, Joe's
Spaghetti House, and Silver Slipper. Now the town is just thronged with
restaurants of all kind, and the interstate highways had such an impact. If it had
just been put in the place that it should have been, it'd be entirely different. There
still would have been growth out there. Did you know that about the decision on
the interstate here?
V: That's why I said, I'm learning something.
W: That was purely political that it went where it did.
V: Really? You said it, you said [something about] the three choices. I didn't
understand. I thought you were talking about it was a good decision
environmentally, because they decided to put it in the hills as opposed to south of
here where you get into that coastal plains area.
W: Yeah, but the first recommendation to come through town, [as a] crosstown
expressway. But they put it out in the most environmentally sensitive area [near]
Lake Jackson in an area that was going to have growth anyways, because it's
more desirable than the piney flatwoods. But you had a situation [with] ...
V: Legislators and others ...
W: And brothers in key local positions. I remember Gainesville from the 1940s.
H: It was a different world, I'm sure.
W: They had WGGG, do they still have that? A radio station?
H: I don't think so.
V: It was there when I was there.
W: They used to call it, "Why Good God Gainesville?" Everyone from Tampa/St.
Petersburg would flee there on weekends, they'd go down and go home to get
out of there. They had a country music band on WGGG called Jimmy Ellerd and
his Florida Favorites, and they played everything off-key, they were terrible. You
didn't have the Hippodrome, you didn't have anything. But we up here at
Tallahassee have grown four times as much as Gainesville over a comparable
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 30
H: Let's talk some about these achievements that you sort of touched on earlier in
the Graham administration in terms of the Save Our Rivers, Save Our
Everglades. Talk a little bit about those initiatives. Which one are you most
W: Well, the Save Our Everglades was the most ambitious, and it's led to the current
state and federal effort and an unparalleled expenditure of funds to reverse
earlier decisions and projects. What happened down there, the massive Central
and Southern Florida Flood Control District, and the Kissimmee River
Channelization that everyone seems to admit now was not right, not the correct
thing to do. The Save Our Rivers was something that we worked on with Steve
Pajcic, an unsuccessful candidate for governor, but who was an expert, and
passed on the documentary stamp money to help with that, and that was a
program with the Water Management District.
Save Our Coast was another thing that hasn't received the attention [it
deserves]. You may remember a few years ago there was a big craze in America
in coastal zone management, and there were federal funds and stuff to help
manage the coastal zone, and one of the tenets of that was, we shouldn't be
building on these hazardous barrier islands, it wasn't a good idea. But if you go
down to Apalachicola, you'll see the brand new bridge to St. George's Island.
There was a concern that a lot of money was being pumped into these areas
through beach nourishment projects and so on, but you have all these multi-
million dollar homes and stuff that have been hit this year by the storms,
particularly in the Panhandle, and there's going to be an awful lot of money spent
to re-nourish the beaches and shores of Escambia County. The 1-10 bridge, part
of it was knocked out. So, that's an effort that I guess you could say has kind of
gone awry. We're still pumping a lot into these hazardous barrier islands.
V: Can I take Ken back [to something he discussed]? Earlier he was talking about
the change in the roles of the Water Management District. Ken, I think you talked
about the Everglades and what happened there, but if you could, could you go
into a little more detail about, in the late or mid-1960s when you came on board
and dredging and filling was occurring everywhere, and, in fact, even the water
management districts, with their flood control projects, were in that business. And
then you have the early 1970s where I think changes started occurring, and their
roles changed. Could you go into more detail about what those major changes
were? I hope I'm setting this up right for you.
W: Well, because of the fights over dredging and filling and the Boca Ciega Bay in
Pinellas County, the legislature in 1967 passed the Randell-Thomas Act that I
had mentioned, and for the first time it required biological impact surveys on
coastal development projects, setting up bulkhead lines and so on. As the years
progressed, we finally got a handle on that and we got the bulk head line brought
back to the line of mean high water. We'd had situations that, for instance, at one
time they started to pump up a golf course in the heart of Sarasota Bay, and we
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 31
were asked to look at that. We said, these things should be looked at before
they're started, but anyway, that didn't happen. I was trying to think, the
Kissimmee River project, when they took a ninety mile winding river and
converted it to a straight channel and ditched discharging water directly from the
Chain of Lakes, south of Orlando, into Lake Okeechobee and then beyond. Then
when they had to do something with that water, it had to go towards Stuart or
West Palm Beach or Ft. Lauderdale or Miami, and everywhere it went it created
a stir, particularly in the Stuart area, Lake Worth, and West Palm Beach. There
was a lot of concern over that. Then also, I'm wandering around a little bit here,
but then you had the proposal for Alligator Alley to come through the heart of the
Big Cypress and Everglades and across state, and that was linked in then finally
to the interstate system.
V: The jetport ...
W: Well, [there was] the Miami jetport, but before that, there was Ludwig's proposal
for a big refinery in Biscayne Bay, and that was a huge battle. Then there was a
battle over Islandia and the islands south of Miami Beach. They had their own
city down there, they had their own mayor, and, of course, Ft. Lauderdale never
really became much of an issue, it was just done. There was a proposal to put a
hurricane levee across Hillsborough Bay in Tampa, Army engineers were
pushing that-I don't know whether you remember that one or not-I think that it
was an absurdity, but it would have been a massive project. That, and on top of
it, they did dam off Old Upper Tampa Bay for a freshwater reservoir that would
have been a really major blow ecologically [to] Tampa Bay, which is [Florida's]
largest estuary. I'm just trying to think of any others.
I mentioned the Cross Florida Barge Canal, but the issue there, when you
boiled it down, was cutting this canal through the heart of the Floridan Aquifer. I
remember Gerald Parker, the man that named the Floridan Aquifer, was one of
the key people testifying against that. If you had that today, it'd be coming just
south of you in the Ocala area. That was a two-day hearing. The major
opposition to that came from the late Margie Carr, the Florida Defender to the
Environment in Gainesville. Gainesville's always been a hot area for
environmentalism, and, of course, they've been involved with the Apalachicola
River. There's a guy named Steve Leitman that's done a lot of work on that. I
don't know, how many people do you have on your master list that you've talked
H: It keeps getting updated, and we do it in pieces.
V: It's for every five years, which means fifty people. We've targeted about ten
people a year, and we've got up to five years' worth, but I also know that we're
adding names to it, because I was talking yesterday, a Graham appointee was...
[End of Tape B, Side 3.]
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 32
W: That Randell-Thomas Act, and he's also the guy who's knowledgeable with the
Big Cypress and all that. He hunts and fishes out there, probably has a swamp
buggy. I haven't seen him for years, but last I heard he was still alive. But I would
encourage you, if you're interested in real characters, to get to Wewahitchka and
talk to L.L. Lanier and his son on this whole Apalachicola flood plain thing, [and]
the tupelo trees where the honey comes from. Be prepared to spend some time.
I think this could be something-it'll get to the Supreme Court one of these days
one way or the other ...
V: Hey, we're talking about that at lunch today.
W: This is something, you never know what's going to become an issue in
something, but the flood plain [did]. Another guy who's knowledgeable on the
Apalachicola River is Ken Tucker, he used to be assistant attorney general. You
know Ken, don't you, a local attorney? His wife Debbie used to be in our unit, but
he's from Blountstown. In fact, I think he and his brother just gave some sort a
conservation easement or some kind of deed for land along the river. He was
involved in the Cross Florida Barge Canal stuff up here, he and I worked very
closely together on that. See, when I came up here in 1967, the old DNR was
staffed pretty well with retired Army engineer colonels. Did you know that?
W: You knew that. [laughing.]
H: That was a different style of management, I presume.
W: Well, they had a different frame of reference.
H: What colonels do you remember?
W: There was Colonel Sollohub.
W: Yeah. He was the district engineer in Jacksonville. Then there was Colonel Jim
Smith, who last I heard had retired to lower South Carolina and had a farm.
There was Roger Bachman, deceased, and there was little Jervey Kelley, but he
just sort of flitted about. But Sollohub was a district engineer, and he was
involved [with the Intracoastal Waterway]. I was involved in field trips to choose
alignments and spoil islands for the Waterway, the missing link on the west
coast. That was during the time, as I recall, Sollohub was the district engineer. In
fact, I remember once having a meeting at the Inverness courthouse. Bonnie and
our infant son were heading for North Carolina that night, had to stop there to
have a meeting on Intercoastal Waterway. Before Claude Kirk, there was Farris
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 33
Bryant [Florida governor, 1961-1965; Florida state representative, 1946-1956;
speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, 1953], a governor from Ocala,
and that was during the period of a lot of trustee activities. He had a guy there at
the trustees, Bill Kidd, a former engineer from Ocala-he killed himself ultimately-
but Jack Buford had worked with him. It was Jack Buford, who now is much
maligned as mayor of Bufordville, a very important and successful real estate
[developer]. [Jack] was instrumental in establishing the first aquatic reserve that
was Estero Bay. Jack now, in local environmental circles, is considered sort of a
Darth Vader [evil-doer], but he also was the one that came up with the concept of
canopy roads. Do you know Jack?
V: Yeah, he was later appointed. He was on the ERC. Martinez appointed him to
the ERC, and I would share your view that today he would not be colored green,
he would be colored on the other side.
W: All that development out in the Bradfordville area, they call 'Beaufortville'
[because] he's been so successful. Jack and I traveled the state together for
several years. In fact, when we moved up here, [from] St. Petersburg, due to
circumstances, we had to leave a buyer's market and come to a seller's market
in a period of two weeks. Bonnie was out house-hunting and she got discouraged
very quickly by the scene here. Jack said, you know, I know a guy whose
mother's died and he has this house and maybe you could buy it from him
directly. It was this house, and we've been here ever since.
H: Given that you had this vantage point where you had one foot in hard sciences
and an environmental background, but you're also this government insider, I'm
going to bring up some criticisms that have been levied against the water
management district, if we could get your opinion on them, please. The first
would be that the districts do not heed scientific evidence as much as they
W: I don't know of any specific times that has occurred. Now, keep in mind, I've
been out of government about eighteen years now.
H: Well, just from your experience, that's fine. The districts have too much authority,
particularly taxing authority.
W: I don't feel that one mil is onerous, and I think that as agencies count, it's
probably become increasingly important.
H: What about in terms of the fact that they're authorized to raise money, but the
legislature can work against that or undermine them?
W: Well, I guess that's true of any government agency. I don't disagree with that, but
that's a fact of life.
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 34
H: What about the perspective that the districts are not closely regulated enough?
W: Well, we've mentioned what the term is in the Water Resources Act. That would
be up to the state agency head if he wants to interpret that as more direct
authority, but it could end up, if carried out, it could be a very all-encompassing,
time-consuming kind of thing for an agency secretary to do, I think. Now, if these
were set up on political boundaries or something, you might make more of an
argument to go ahead and do that. But since they've been set up pretty logically
on the surface hydrology, I don't know how much power you can exert from
Tallahassee under the existing statutes in the nebulous nature of that one phrase
that Jake referred to ...
H: One thing that we haven't talked about is the fact that you not only had to work
through the state governmental channels, but in your career you've also had to
deal with federal bureaucracies and legislation, and also, in terms of working with
local level government, what lessons did you take from having interacted on all
those levels of government?
W: I guess that, before you had any meetings or liaison with them, [it was important]
to get well-briefed on the issue and not go into meetings not knowing all the ins
and outs, you don't fly blind into situations. Also, be prepared to listen intently
and don't try to dominate situations unless you think that the meeting or issue is
getting completely off-track. Try to keep the eye on the ball, and what the major
goal is or what the major problem is, and to try to learn as much as you can
about the people you're going to deal with, whether they're legislators,
bureaucrats, or executives, try to find out something about their background so,
just in casual conversations, you don't commit an irreparable faux pas. I've seen
that happen, because people tend to, if it's not at a meeting, if it's socializing,
they tend to get off on extraneous matters. If you have opinions on steroids in
baseball or some other [topic], keep them to yourself, don't get into that.
Also, I hate to mention this again, but the problem of alcoholism with a lot
of people you're dealing with. I've seen that happen up here, when you have a lot
of these meetings, and young impressionable people, and they're being wined
and dined. You see them grow from casual drinkers to alcoholics. Also, you have
to not take on too much, I mean as far as schedules and topics goes, some of
the people I found that were the most ineffective in government were running
around, looking at their daily schedule, rushing from one meeting to another or
one place to another. I know people that get caught up in this thing of just
enjoying going to meetings and conventions in an endless circle, and that's stuff
they could have handled by phone or by correspondence and so on. It's a matter
of kind of rationing your time and setting a priority on what you should and could
get involved in, and then doing your homework.
I find that you need to know Florida. A lot of people don't know the state of
Florida; they don't know where they are or what they're talking about, frequently,
but they'll still get up and sound off. I tell people who call about writing, from an
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 35
agency or the government or whatever, I said, stick to one subject, don't make
your point and then say, oh, by the way. The quickest way in government to not
get a response is to write a letter on several subjects. Stick to one subject, even
if you have to write six different letters. Then I tried to do that myself. A lot of it is
self-discipline, and you're going to meet a lot of people, personally or socially,
you'd rather not deal with or interface with, I hate to use that word either, but in
government you have to deal with all kinds of people and you have to be able to
fend for yourself as far as not getting captured goes by someone who, if given a
chance, will take up all your time. You have to know how to extricate yourself
from situations, including phone calls.
Some people, and I won't mention any names, used to call me several
times a week-they'd even call me at home-and they'd want to discuss things. I
remember once I was so tired and someone went on and on and I fell asleep and
the phone dropped. I heard them say, Ken, Ken, what's happened? I said, oh!
The late Harry Smith used to be the state budget director, [he] had a room with a
cot or a couch in a room [where] you could cut all the light off, and at three
o'clock every afternoon he'd take about a fifteen minute nap. Winston Churchill
said you shouldn't go from dawn till dusk without five minutes of blessed oblivion.
Did you ever hear that?
W: That's true. But experts say you shouldn't nap more than fifteen minutes.
Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, and [Douglas] MacArthur, people like that,
napped for five minutes and then would come to.
H: Those are people worth looking up to.
W: Yeah. I can lay down and I can nap for an hour or two and it doesn't seem to
affect my sleeping at night. Now Bonnie says she will not take naps because she
can't sleep at night. But I think that some people get over-tired in government,
they get just plain fatigued, and that's when they do or say the wrong things or
make the wrong decisions, just through sheer fatigue. Like the legislative
sessions-have you ever been up for one?
W: It's a merry-go-round for a lot of people, going from one cocktail party or so on to
another, or meetings in state government.
H: In terms of water management districts, what do you think are the important
things that historians should realize about the districts fifty years from now?
W: That the plumbing system in South Florida had to be retrofitted, or was retrofitted
at tremendous expense, both for constructing it and redoing it to bring back,
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 36
hopefully, a sheet water flow through the Everglades into Florida Bay, Shark
River Slough, and so on, because at the end of this whole system, as we
recommended to save the Everglades, was Florida Bay, which is the nursery
ground for the pink shrimp fishery [at] Dry Tortugas [off of] Key West. A fish who
has always there but not discovered, except by Japanese in 1950, they went out
and dragged their nets at night. The pink shrimp is nocturnal, but for certain
reasons, they spend their juvenile stages in Florida Bay. If you can restore that
historic hydro-period, or some semblance of it, it's going to help that fishery. It's
also going to help, I think, on preserving the coral reefs, because coral's very
sensitive to silt, and the sudden water changes. So, I think that will be one of the
major things that affects. This is a major, major project, and hopefully it's going
to work. That includes redoing the Kissimmee River and trying to bring it back to
some natural semblance.
In the Southwest District-of course that's my old home area-Pinellas
County lost its freshwater aquifer years ago and they've had to go
north and started the water wars, Pasco County and beyond.
Then you've had the Bypass Canal in Hillsborough, and that was a water
management thing. Then you have this, which appears to be a real fiasco,
TECO's desalinization plant. I don't know what the latest on that is, but perhaps
you can say that desalinization will work in Saudi Arabia, where they have the
world's cheapest hydrocarbons, but I don't think that that's ever going to be
feasible in a high energy cost state like Florida. But by setting the water
management districts up the way they are, hopefully we will not get water
transfer from district to district. You know, there are proposals [that have] been in
the legislature recently about tapping north Florida water to go down to Central
Florida/Tampa Bay area. There are some people who push that to continue to
have the growth and development down there, but the thing they never realize is
that when you do that, you rob these estuaries of their needed freshwater in the
proper amount and proper time of the year. These estuaries are the basis of
Florida's multi-million dollar sport and commercial fishing industries. I really feel,
and it's only a hypothesis on my part, but somehow that would explain the
disappearance of the clam fishery southeast of Marco Island.
See, I knew Marco Island before the Mackle brothers came in there and
developed it. There were big middens there of clams and oysters and that kind of
thing. I think the water management districts, if they can manage to help
preserve the health of our estuaries and our fisheries, that that'll be one of their
major accomplishments. Blue Springs, over near Madison, now is being tapped
by Nestle for fresh water for bottling purposes, and as I mentioned, Northwest
Florida, I think, will have to become more active in helping the Department of
Environmental Protection preserve these first magnitude springs. You know that
Florida has more first magnitude springs than any state; the next greatest
amounts are Missouri and Arkansas in the Ozarks, and the next are in Oregon
and Idaho. You go from seventy degrees, to sixty degrees, to fifty degrees as you
move northwesterly, as far as water temperature goes. These are, as I say, fed
by the Floridan Aquifer, and they're really harbingers of how we're doing as far as
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 37
land and water management goes.
If we manage somehow to do things that will affect Silver Springs, and
there were some problems there because of what's happened in the Rodman
Pool at Lake Ocklawaha, the effects on the fisheries of the St. John's River and
Silver Run, and that kind of thing. So, I think there's where the districts have to
listen more to their biologists, by taking a look at that aspect of it, not just on
some localized dispute, but overall. For instance, I think the health of the St.
John's River-which they've always tried to revive and so on-the Ocklawaha
River is a major tributary to the St. John's, and the Ocklawaha River was
interrupted drastically by Rodman Pool or Lake Ocklawaha. Now we still have
Lake Ocklawaha, and there's been efforts to try to remove it, but your sport
fishing interests in Palatka and some of those areas have fought to preserve it
because it's such a great recreational aspect. That could be, somewhere along
the line, the next water management initiative-the St. John's River-if they want
to take that battle on. Of course, their headquarters is in Palatka, and that's
where the major support for that goes. That's over in your territory.
H: Mr. Varn, can I turn the floor over to you? Do you have any bits and pieces you
want to zero in on?
V: No. One thing I was going to say. Ken, from your viewpoint of having observed
all of this, even if you go back to the 1950s to when you retired in the 1980s-
thirty years-is there one issue that stands out in your mind that involved the
water management districts, either a positive or a negative? If you had to, if
somebody said give me the most significant event during your tenure in
government involving the water management districts, [what would you say it
was]? I guess I can help you, because it seems to me from what you told me, the
Save the Everglades program may well be right up there amongst the top; trying
to retrofit the Everglades is probably the most significant.
W: And that would include the un-straightening the Kissimmee, yeah.
V: To me, from a historical perspective, you've probably been at the center of all this
for thirty-something years and have seen a lot happen. Don't fool with Mother
Nature. Take the experience you learned in the Everglades.
W: I think that there should be close cooperation between the DEP and the water
management districts on these first magnitude springs. These are tremendous
resources. Have you ever seen the books on the springs of Florida?
H: I don't think so.
W: I guess you have?
V: I've got one in my office.
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 38
W: The first one was 1948, it was a classic. It went out of print, and I was
instrumental in getting Buddy Hendry and them to have an updated version. It's
wonderful. It's county by county, all the springs. You could take time off and just
have a small career out of visiting all the springs of Florida and swimming in
them. They're just priceless resources.
H: I try to do the Ichnetucknee a couple times a year myself.
W: I said a few years ago, and I guess this was back in the 1950s early 1960s, I'd
heard about the Ichnetucknee Springs and I was coming from Gainesville to
here, and I stopped off to see it. I was very impressed and all that a lot of
students from Gainesville were there, but I also learned at the time that some
Canadian combine was angling to get it and develop it. So, I came back up here
and told Ney Landrum, who was director of parks, this is something that the state
needs to get, because this shouldn't happen. So, we ended up getting that, and
as you know, it's a priceless resource down there. Of course, you've got all these
springs along the Suwannee.
B: Ken, let me interrupt you for a moment, because this relates to what we're doing.
Part of this exercise [is that] we're building a library of materials down at the
University of Florida, and I don't know this because I haven't asked you, but do
you have any materials that you have accumulated over the years? I just got this
week the first index where they took Buddy Blain's materials. I've agreed to turn
mine over-I don't want them destroyed-but I know that I've got unique
W: I had [some stuff], it should be at the Institute of Marine Science in St.
Petersburg, the old state marine lab that's under the Fish and Wildlife
Conservation. I turned a lot of stuff over to them, or left it down there when I
moved up here.
V: I have the original reports on designating the Green Swamp as an area of critical
state concern. I have one of the original reports on designating the Big Cypress
as an area of critical state concern. I have briefs in one of the most famous water
war cases, the Quester case. I don't know of anybody else, for example, that has
those documents. I don't want them destroyed, but they're going to take them
and copy them and index them and put them into a permanent file down at the
University of Florida's Law Library, so that's the reason I asked you the question.
But if you've got anything you had sent down to the institute ...
W: It stayed down there. See, I moved from there up here, then I moved from
agency to agency, and a lot of the old survey and management stuff is
somewhere at the DNR. The guy that ended up with it, you remember Tom
Savage, he died, but Bob Rouda [also worked in that office].
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 39
V: When did Tom die?
W: I guess just a summer or so ago.
V: Because he was still over at the DEP.
W: He'd been sick for a long time.
V: I didn't know that. I remember Tom.
H: I would like to see that book, but let me just ask first, is there anything that I
should have asked you about that I didn't? Is there anything that you want to add
to the historical record about the water management districts or even the
environmental movement in Florida generally?
W: I'm just trying to think around the state, I tend to approach it that way. We
mentioned the Florida Keys, the areas of critical state concern One of our
most, perhaps our most important attractions, are our beaches. Down through
the years, you have a lot of erosion to the beach coming and going, you've had
this elaborate beach nourishment projects, Army Corps popping up on shore.
The state has always supported that because they are our most important tourist
resource. The beaches, from the high water line on down are public, and down
through the years, as you go around Florida, the public citizens are slowly and
surely being walled off from the beaches and access to the beaches. This is not
a conservation issue, per se, but it is an economic issue.
I remember when Lawton Chiles was a state senator, he introduced an
Open Beaches Act like a congressman from Texas had gotten through out there,
and it was considered very radical at the time. I think that if we continue to pump
tax monies into beach nourishment projects, there really has to be a greater
effort to make sure that the public has accesses to these beaches. I know Passe
Grille, Florida, for years, each street-end going east-west had an access to the
beach, you could park in the street. That's largely been pretty much closed off. I
realize that saying this is not, ecologically, an issue, it's sort of a public-policy
issue. If you drive down the Gold Coast now, you just see condo after condo,
and it's happening in St. Petersburg. Along there they're putting up all the high-
rises, so before long you won't see Tampa Bay. It's not a beach there, unless it's
been pumped up where there used to be mangroves. I don't know if this has ever
come up or not.
I think in Massachusetts, public ownership begins at the line of mean low
water. They thought that people should have the right to take their beach
blankets and spread them on the dry sand, not in the inter-tidal zone, and that's
where the issues have come. The private people say they don't want the public
out there. I just throw that in because I remember Old St. Pete Beach and Passe
Grille, and you'd just go out there and swim anywhere. Now you can't, unless it's
a public beach. You can't see the beach, you can't get to them, and I know it's
FWM-9 Woodburn, Page 40
even more so on the lower Gold Coast. I don't know, but to me, maybe it's a
populist issue, but I remember when Lawton Chiles brought that up and everyone
was astounded. It didn't go anywhere.
V: The debate continues.
H: Well, after three hours, hopefully we have wrung you sufficiently dry.
W: Has it been that long?
H: Thank you very much, and this concludes the interview.
[End of Interview.]