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From Gainesville, Florida.
Hello, I'm Mike Gannon,
and this is conversation Dr.
Arthur Marshall is a former state
administrator of the United States
Fish and Wildlife Service,
a former professor
at the University of Miami
and here at the University of Florida.
Now retired, he lives
in nearby Interlochen.
In point of fact, however, Art
Marshall has not retired.
He has become a prophet,
a modern day Jeremiah,
if you will, pronouncing woe
unto Florida with all its works
And suddenly people are listening.
People like Governor Bob Graham
and the scientific community
and even writers and editors
from Sports Illustrated magazine
recently, Johnny Jones,
executive director of the Florida
Wildlife Federation, said
Art Marshall is a prophet.
He has been right every time
when he has call the shots.
If Marshall had been wrong once,
I might not have the faith
that I have in him.
But he has been right.
And the people and politicians
had damn well better listen
to what he says.
We'll find out what Art
Marshall is saying
when I return in a moment.
live presents conversation
from the University of Florida,
a discussion of social, political,
scientific and religious
issues of the day.
Your host is Dr.
Michael Vigano, professor of history
and ethics and assistant
dean of the College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences
at the University of Florida.
Art, welcome to a conversation.
Thank you, Mike. Glad to be here.
Now let me see if I
have your message straight.
I've listened to the prophecy
and it seems to go something like this,
that in the southern part
of the peninsula of Florida,
there is an ecosystem
that has many parts.
It starts with the Qassemi
Lakes around Orlando,
then moves south and sheet of water
or what used to be a sheet of water
through the Kissimmee River
Basin to Lake Okeechobee,
then southward into the river of grass
we call the Everglades.
And that a number of things
have been done to sheet water
that is thin surface layers of water
that have affected the rain machine
that dumps so much water
on the southern part of the state
and makes it habitable by the
three million plus people who live
in Miami and the Gold Coast
just to take the Atlantic portion
of South Florida, for an example.
Among other things, I understand that the
Kissimmee River Basin
has been channelized.
It has been deepened
so that much of the sheet water
has been drained off
of the marshes into the deep river
and no longer evaporates
into the atmosphere to initiate
what you call the rain machine.
Also, if I understand you correctly,
much of the development is in
South Florida has similarly drained
what otherwise would be marshy lands,
abundant sheet water from which
evaporation could generate rain
that is desperately needed
for wildlife or fisheries
for the recharging
of the Biscayne Aquifer,
which is the only source of potable water
for the Gold Coast.
And you foresee,
if corrective measures
are not adequately taken,
a major disaster
for life in the southern
part of our state.
Is that a fair rendering, though?
Not very sophisticated of your message?
Yes, I think that's
quite accurate, actually,
in its natural state.
The Everglades system
had as an outstanding characteristic
the ability to move
water to the south that fell on the land,
but to move it down at such a slow rate
that it was almost incomprehensible.
I used to go into the middle
of the Everglades twenty five years ago
and sit for hours trying to determine
if I could see the water move,
the great sheet of water,
which was characteristic,
so characteristic of the lower
and also in the southern Everglades.
All of that massive land
lying south of Lake Okeechobee,
all the way down
into Everglades National Park,
had this remarkable sheet of water,
never more than five or six feet deep
in the southern Everglades,
50 miles wide, with a southern movement
at a rate of an average of about
20 feet in twenty four hours.
And that is extremely slow.
The purpose of construction
of the canals, of course, was to expedite
the flow really out of the interior basin
and into the title waters of the state,
all the way from Fort
Myers on the West Coast,
around the tip of the peninsula
and up to the St.
Lucie estuary at Martin County
on the East Coast.
Those canals did, in fact,
speed that flow of water and of course,
reduced the water levels
by about five feet in the central
basis of the Everglades and narrowed
the southern Everglades River of grass
from about 50 to 60 miles
and with 20 or 25 miles
and with the Corps of Engineers know
all of the long term effects
that would come from channelizing
the Qassemi River
of that action did take place
in the beginning of the 50s, did it not,
to deepen that river?
No, the Qassemi is really channelization,
is really much more recent than that.
The works were accomplished
from about 1965 to 1971.
So we're talking about an event
that was concluded 11 years ago
from now that's really
quite, quite recent.
Whether they knew what
the channelization of the
Senate would do,
and that is the rapid run off of water
off the floodplain of the Qassemi,
I don't know.
I doubt that they knew
as much as we know now.
They are certainly listening now.
They are examining the question
I think they knew some of it.
I'm a little surprised
that they didn't give more attention
in the planning years.
That is the Corps of Engineers
and the water management
district in West Palm Beach to the fine
book published by Dr.
Gerald Parker of the U.S.
there was adequate information
on the hydrology of the Kusuma
Okeechobee system in that book.
For anyone who had given it
reasonable attention to have foreseen
the massive and very harmful
drainage effect that
the channelization of the river
has brought about.
Let's talk for a moment
about the process by which water
moves from the surface
into the atmosphere and triggers
this rain machine, provides
the southern part
of our state with its water.
There are two processes, aren't there?
from the thin layer of sheet water
in the marshy areas of the state
and then transpiration
from the vegetation.
How do these work just simply expressed
express the shallow
sheet of water in the Everglades
system really function in my senses
as a giant solar collector,
much like a solar collector
would function on the roof of a house,
do the water, warm the water.
The solar radiation
was able to heat that water up
in the daytime in the summer months,
There was a rise in water temperature
from about 14 degrees Celsius,
from nighttime to daytime.
That's a pretty good amount of warming.
That, of course,
activated the water molecules
simply to evaporate on the open
and clear surfaces of water.
And then it also speeded
the germination and growth of plant life,
the physiological actions
within within the plant.
And therefore, a great amount of water
pass through their tissues
out of the soil or off
the surface, move through the leaf .
Now there's stomata
into the atmosphere, and that's
what's called transpiration.
We combine the two terms for simplicity,
evaporation being one, transpiration
being the other, and simply
call the total process
which is a good device.
And then if you run off
that water into a deep channel,
or if you drain that water off in order
to develop the land
for housing or for some other purpose,
you remove just, well, that much moisture
that would evaporate into the atmosphere
and give you rain.
That's correct. That is correct.
I read an item just the other day
which essentially said
that canals and St.
Lucie County, which is where Fort
Pierce is, discharge
two million acre feet of water
to tide by a sea or an acre for
the water is an acre
of water, one foot deep, but
just a convenient
unit of volume to handle.
So you don't have such a large numbers
about that particular
drainage of freshwater from the land
into the salt water.
You can make this statement
that that's two million
acre feet of water,
which would never have
any opportunity evaporate
or to transpire in
the southern Florida system.
It's I just use that
when it's a localized one.
But the same principle prevails
when you look at the entire Qassemi
Okeechobee Everglades system,
when the water is run
rapidly off of canals to tide,
it is lost to the evapotranspiration
processes on the land.
Let's take a look at a map
of that part of Florida.
And if you would, please outline for us
the routes from the Qassemi
Lakes around Orlando, south
through the Qassemi Basin
to Lake Okeechobee,
and then into the Everglades proper.
And as we take a look at that,
we can talk about some of the effects.
Most of them bad,
that are taking place now.
As I look at the map, I'm
seeing the eastern part of the lower
portion of the state coming into view.
I see Orlando and the upper left corner,
Cape Canaveral off to the right.
And am I correct in saying
that those bodies of lakes below
Orlando are the Qassemi lakes?
That is correct.
They're called the chain of lakes.
So the Kissimmee River
Valley or Kissimmee River Basin,
there are 15 or 16 of them.
Those lakes as a unit
constituted and still constitute
the headwaters of the
entire Kissimmee Okeechobee
That's an important element
there to many people
in south Florida, for instance,
think that the Everglades begins
in Lake Okeechobee in the old myth,
the enormity and the enormous
importance of this
Kissimmee River basin
to do the to the Okeechobee
and the Everglades portions
because these waters feed the Okeechobee.
Well, take us down then.
were in the period
of 1935 to 1950 when Dr.
Parker did his analysis,
which resulted in the book he wrote that
I mentioned earlier
, contributed about seven
hundred thousand acre feet of water
to the lower Kissimmee River
on an average annual basis.
The lake from 700000 acre feet of water.
Then they overflowed in the rainy season
and the water started trickling south
through ponds and flows
and ultimately came down
to the southernmost lake,
that larger one, which is like
the Sunni Highway 60.
Then, of course, that passed on
into the lower floodplain
of the Kissimmee River.
Now you see a canal
with some bends in it.
Prior to the channelization
project, that was a.
River, which meandered widely
over its floodplain.
The distance from lake swimming to Lake
Okeechobee is about 50 miles linearly,
but that river meanders over 100 miles
inland, transport in that region.
Those waters that came down
from the Upper Lakes
and the rain that fell directly
on the lower basin
flooded the lower Kissimmee Valley out
to a with a maximum of about two miles.
Let's stop the map movement.
There is that brown line
from Lake Semi down to the lake,
the channel that that is correct.
And that was devised in order
to speed up the flow of water.
That is correct.
To move the flow of water
out of the Kissimmee
Basin into Okeechobee much more rapidly.
And from Okeechobee,
of course, there are about six
major canals that go directly to tide.
But when that was done,
it was not known how adversely
that would affect the rain
machine of that part of.
I doubt that anyone had thought
that in my own case.
Now this this is going back to nineteen
sixty, approximately when the planning,
which was pretty well underway,
I had begun to wonder about this
in the Everglades, and it began to grow,
in my mind, to be a bigger
and more important thing,
one that I thought
we were overlooking or something here.
And I picked up bits and pieces
of information down through a period of
about 10 or 15 years.
It finally crystallized
when I read your brother's dissertation,
which was about five years ago.
I hadn't even heard of his dissertation.
You did it 10 years ago,
and I got it five years ago.
And then I was absolutely certain
that I was on course on
the significance of that
sheet of water heating heated by the sun
in the upper evapotranspiration.
I should mention my brother's
name, Patrick to Ganon.
He should get credit for
his dissertation. Should have been.
I owe him a great day.
Let's follow the map southward again
from Lake Okeechobee down
into the Everglades proper again.
These waters are moving very slowly
and they're thin sheets are very thin.
And if anything happened
to disturb that flow
more than what already
has been done to those waters,
it would adversely affect
the Biscayne aquifer,
which is the source of potable water
for the Gold Coast.
Some three million people also adversely
affect the sugar industry,
which depends heavily upon those waters
and upon the Monklands.
By the way, let's stop
the map here for a moment, because
much of the Everglades
has been drained off and the Monklands
or peat bogs that remain after draining
are used for growing crops
such as sugar cane
and truck crops and so forth.
And now that the water has
has been taken off
in a very dramatic way,
some of that muck land is burning,
I understand, actually burning on fire.
Generally, I think most people
who pay attention to
what's going on in the Everglades think
that there is one problem
and only one problem,
and that is the problem of water supply.
And certainly that is a problem
and it's a fundamental problem.
But the fact is that
the disturbance of the processes
that were driven
by the energy of the water
really in the pristine
Everglades is costing
costing us tremendous resources,
just just enormous value.
The muck bed.
So the people that south of Lake
Okeechobee was about 18 feet thick
when we first began to drain it.
It five or six feet have already gone.
It took 5000 years
to accumulate that mark
and that she floated that
we're now losing it at a rate of
about an inch to an inch
to an inch and a quarter a year
on this giant agricultural peat soil bed,
which is about twelve hundred
square miles in size.
Approximately a billion
and a half dollars worth of farm products
are yielded each year.
I mean, it is it is of enormous value.
The present rate of burning and oxidation
of the peat beds in that area
are at such a rate
that that entire resource
will be gone in 18 years.
We worry about farmlands
all across the United States.
And here's one of the world's
largest cultivated organic soil,
but whose life remaining
life is 18 years.
I think that's a significant loss.
I think it's a frightening prospect.
And how does it catch fire?
I understand general oxidation occurring
without signs of fire
blazing and smoking.
But but how does a people catch fire?
Sometimes it happens by natural events,
like in the summertime
when the sun is really baking it.
You know, we've got the
real higher than you can get
a bolt of lightning, which
which can cause it to happen.
But we are confident that arsonists
sometimes are at work motorbikes
which emit red hot exhaust gases
and set the Everglades
on fire over miles of length
at a very, very, very quickly.
Some of it, I suppose,
so it can either be natural
or purposeful or accidental.
I suppose if we wanted a forecast
of how bad things could become,
we only have to look at
what has happened to wildlife,
starting with fish.
I understand that there
there are some truly endangered species
now which were so abundant,
you could net them by the thousands
snuck, for example.
I understand Snook is a very rare fish
where it used to be
one of the most abundant
species in the Everglades, or Snuka
regarded by the researchers
for the state.
The really active research
is as an endangered species,
which is a little hard to think of.
We think we tend to think of
mammals or birds or something like that
when we think of endangered species.
But the Florida's chief researcher,
Jerry Prover in Petersburg,
considers the snook population
an endangered population.
His estimate is that
the adult population of Snook
in the Ten Thousand Islands area
number is less than 3000 fishers.
This is nothing compared
to the rates of catch the commercial man
achieved in that area in World War Two
when we were out
to get a lot of protein food.
A catch of that kind
with one side of the net
would have been
an absolutely small catch.
So it's it's definitely down very bad
that that particular fish
that would interest me especially.
Well, because that particular fish
happened to be the subject
of my master's thesis, like,
oh, good, I've never done all of that.
Redfish and trout.
The same kinds of things
are beginning to happen.
Yes, they are, particularly
in northeastern Florida Bay.
And in that portion, which is contained
within the boundaries
of Everglades National Park.
The marine fish populations now are down
something of 50 to 75 percent
of what they were very few years ago.
Now, as you move to the west, over
toward the Buttonwood Canal
and the flamingo area,
there is a fair amount of population.
But up in that northeast
corner of Florida Bay,
it's very, very bad shape.
Marine fish population.
And let's talk about birds
wading birds that used to populate
the Everglades in such great numbers.
I understand they are a rarity now.
There are about a dozen
or 15 species of birds and other animals
which are considered
endangered or threatened.
I think the real classic one
is the Woodstock,
whose population numbered
perhaps a million and a half
birds at the turn of the century.
Now down to something less than 200000.
Another striking statistic
in regard to the Woods store
is that out of the last
17 years of nesting,
the adults have failed to fledge
their young 15 years
in a row and 15 times
15 failures out of 17 years
in their ability to to raise.
And Fleg, their young and Johnny Jones,
the director of the Florida
Wildlife Federation, whose name
I used at the beginning
of our discussion,
has pointed out recently in Sports
Illustrated in an article
that featured your
You know, I suppose
that's the best way to describe it.
Said that the Kissimmee River Basin
used to host about a million dollars
he and his friends counted eight.
That is correct.
There is a similar
or somewhat paralleling
event in regard to the Qassemi
gets back to the amount of water
that it supplied
to Lake Okeechobee before
it was CHANNELIZE.
Parker's book showed that
the Qassemi supplied one
and two million acre
feet of water to Lake Okeechobee
on an average basis,
each of those 14
or 15 years of its study.
One point two million acre feet.
That's about three or three
and a half feet of water
on Lake Okeechobee in 1980,
the amount of input
was one hundred eighty
thousand acre feet.
In nineteen eighty one, it was seventy
one thousand acre feet,
and that's three inches.
What I'm saying is
that the channelization
and the damage of the lakes
and the approbation have reduced
to Lake Okeechobee from three feet
on Lake Okeechobee to three inches.
That's something like
the million bucks down to eight.
And the numbers and it's not only a
channelizing the semi river
or doing the other things
that have been done in draining the lands
along the basin and the route
southward to the Everglades.
But it's also a matter
of development, too, isn't it?
The concrete fortresses,
if you will, that have
gone up on both coasts,
the hotels, the condominiums, the
the cities with all of their concrete,
all of that required
the draining of sheet
water from the surface,
that not only the draining
and the reduction
of the size of the Everglades, but rather
apparently massive interferences
with the rainfall cycles and so forth
with your brother. And also Dr.
Shannon from Illinois mentioned here
on the university last week,
they are both really, really
quite concerned about that.
Interferences with the normal natural
rainfall in the South Florida system.
My brother has taken
a rather strong stand.
Sir, he does on development
in southern Florida.
He and Sports Illustrated,
he is cited as saying,
well, I quote the writer,
if Gannon had it within his power,
he would put an immediate
stop to development.
For instance, he would
reflood Golden Gate Estates,
a huge tract of land
east of Naples that was drained,
but never built on people in this area.
I guess look at at a distance
of the South Florida system.
And I think there are things
to be learned there that have portend
for the future of the north Florida.
And that's certainly one of them.
Whether the pouring
of concrete interferes
with with rather weather
cycles and so forth,
there's another thing
that is really a part
of the whole rain machine.
That's that to me is quite significant.
And it's significant
not only in the Kissimmee
but I think it's
significant to Gainesville
and to North Florida.
And it goes something like this,
that the movement of water
in the Everglades system,
the water on the ground was,
of course, to the south,
because that's the way
that the land flows into our base
and all the way down to Florida Bay.
But there was a counteracting force
in that system
that had to do with
the movement of water,
and that was the evapotranspiration
of the water off
the floor of the Everglades.
Once that water was lifted
above the tops of the
sawgrass, let's say, in the lower
atmosphere, that moisture
it immediately encountered encountered
the prevailing southeasterly breeze
in south Florida
in the summertime
breeze, which could run
three to five knots.
I'll tell you what this means,
a reef as I can make it,
whereas it took nearly two months
for a molecule of water to move a mile
to the south in the Everglades
once it lifts into that lower
I was by the prevailing breezes.
Then that water can move north
five miles in an hour.
Remarkable, you say, and a hundred miles
in twenty four hours and 500
or 600 or 700 miles in a week.
I know that this is stretching it,
and I'm a little reluctant to do that,
because I know that we do need
more research on the rain
But I am beginning to think
that the paucity of water
in central Florida,
north of the Kissimmee Okeechobee Basin,
you know, we have two hundred
sinkholes already formed this year.
We have a farmer out
west of Gainesville, 40 miles.
No longer can grow corn on his land
because it's too dry.
I'm beginning to wonder
if the series of serious drought,
which North Florida is experiencing,
perhaps even southern Georgia hasn't
been tampered with by the interference
with the rainfall cycle in south Florida
That's the bad news
in the minutes that we have remaining.
What some good news.
What's being done?
What has been done already?
Quite a few things, and I'm very glad
to have a chance to get on that.
You know, I sometimes think
ecology has become another desert
like alarmism, and
I don't really think of it that way .
I think that as long as we can interpret
the realities of this world
in the way it really works
and not the way that
we hope that it works,
which we failed to do in
in South Florida,
that then we have a chance
to do things that are right.
And some of those things are happening
in the Everglades system.
About two years ago, I developed a plan
which is now sort of facetiously
referred to as the Marshall Plan,
which has about 12
or 14 elements in it
to repair the Everglades system
of that 12 or 14 items.
Several of them are already
in place and five or six more are under
study to be put in place.
One of them is that I can
maybe quickly recite these
is that the Buttonwood
Canal and Everglades
National Park is right now being plugged.
The contractors on site, the water
management district, refused
to drain floodwaters off
Eastern Everglades last year
after that storm, that
even though a couple of hundred
houses were standing in flood,
that's the first time
they refused to drain land
and refused to do it,
even though there was a pitiful situation
prevailing for those
people in those homes
The Park Service has developed a plan
to restore the Turner River.
That's a little coastal stream,
which is in the Big Cypress
National Freshwater Preserve,
which is now a public domain.
The plan has been developed.
The administrative reviews
are taking place to get the permits
and to do the work that's
necessary to do that.
If that happens, as I think it will,
that would be the first damaged river
to be restored in Florida.
A very similar event
is taking place on the Loxahatchee River
in the Jupiter area for its restoration.
The water management district, denied
by a unanimous vote
of the members, present
a twenty million dollar drainage plan
for eastern Henry County just last year.
That would have been
another Small-Scale Casini River,
and they turned it down
for the first time in their history.
They have denied
the entrance of a new Jetport Runway
into conservation area three B down
in the southern Everglades,
because that would mean that runway.
It interfered with their attempts
to reestablish flow in that very large
They put two dams in the Miami Canal
in the middle of conservation area three,
and they had dug that
canal some years ago
to speed the flow of the water.
So now they put two dams in there
to not only stop the flow
of the water stop,
but to force it once again
out over the marshes.
We have one minute left.
Has Governor Graham
and the officialdom
of the state of Florida
demonstrated concern about this problem?
Yes, they certainly have.
I and others have met
with the governor
several times as recently as January.
The outcome of that session
with the governor
and with a person on his staff
is that he appointed
Secretary Schenkel BGR
to move the country
to pardon me on selecting the plan
for the restoration
of the Kissimmee Valley
and to do that by the end of this year.
And that process is now underway.
Thank you very much.
I thank you both for your warning
and for your signs of hope.
I thank you for what you have contributed
as a single citizen
to helping all of us
enjoy a better life in Florida.
Thanks for being with me
in our conversation. Thank you, Mike.