2 March 1999
Governor Jeb Bush
Dear Governor Bush,
I find it necessary to inform you of a very serious problem concerning our natural wonder, The Everglades.
The Everglades are now being re-evaluated, again. This 8.4.BILLION DOLLAR project could reproduce our natural Everglades as we once knew it or the project could destroy it forever. Because of my concern I called a meeting. I felt it was very important to acquire valuable information and descriptions from men who had alot of experience with the Everglades. Many of the men have made there living in the Everglades for 40 to 60 years. The older individuals came from many walks of life; froggers, trappers, commercial fisherman, recreational users and older Florida Game and Fish employees. There knowledge is extremely valuable in starting to rebuild the vast Everglades before the destruction and modifications made by man.
I feel it is necessary to forward to you our unified thoughts and recommendations concerning the rebuilding of our Everglades. It is necessary that we be candid with you and relate the good, bad and ugly.
Many years ago Florida Governor Askew, was fighting the battle to save The Everglades. The Governor held a meeting on Miami Beach. All professional people who had knowledge of The Everglades problem were invited to attend. This included water management personnel, hydrologists, biologists, scientists and, many other knowledgeable people. The Governor asked all to
be non-biased concerning the true thought to save The Everglades from destruction. This body of people was so large that they had to be broken up into three different groups. This meeting was very serious and lasted for three days. All information acquired from the many individuals was formed into one summary. The summary report final analysis recommended that The State of Florida had made a mistake to allow the various farmers to move into the-.flood plains, They further recommended The State of Florida repurchase the flood plains and return it to its natural state as The Everglades.
The political power of this union decided to "water down" the summary considerably. They rewrote the summary three different times, each time the report was "watered down" considerably. The final summary report did not represent the truth. Business went on as usual. Now three to four decades later we are faced with the same battle, only to experience a much smaller Everglades than before, which is ever increasingly dying at a rapid rate.
The Water Management track record speaks for itself. Area number two (2) is a good example. All the islands and hammocks do not exist, and the wildlife is gone.
After the 1947 hurricane and flood control came to be, the water table regulations set forth were not to be harmful to the habitat or The Everglades ecosystem. If it was found to be destructive the water schedules were to be lowered. It would be unlawful for Water Management to willfully cause destruction to The Everglades ecosystem. A cap should be put on the high water level and persons should be held accountable if
they exceed that level. No one should be able to kill The Everglades ecosystem.
The first report from the restudy team water recommendations call for water heights that will drown out tree islands and hammocks the same way that has already killed off Area Two (2). It seems that we cannot profit from our mistake. In the part large sections of The Everglades have been killed
off to save another section. This approach is not necessary.
The Water Management 'take away system is not working. The Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission reports that they estimate the deer herd within all of Area Three (3) is 59 deer. The State of Florida should be ashamed to have let this type of thing happen to one of our worlds Natural Wonders, as The Everglades. During the 1960's the deer herd was estimated to be over 10,000. We feel it is well over time to stop the old practices and get serious and truthful by giving a direct approach in saving what little is left of The Everglades.
There is much debate as to what The Everglades water table, wildlife and plant life was during the early years. We highly recommend that we take advantage of the more direct experience that we still have available.
The elder men who have spent most all of there lives and livelihood within The Everglades have much direct knowledge of this ecosystem, that would prove to be very beneficial to the natural restoration.
We recommend that a special effort be put forth to locate some of these men who can relate and forward such vital information that may otherwise be overlooked by the study team.
It would be advantageous to appoint a special board of these qualified men to act as advisors to the study team. We are not against spending the 8.4 Billion Dollars, to save The Everglades not destroy it.
Governor Bush, The State of Florida in part has allowed to much destruction of our Everglades. If you as a Texan can address our problem as The Texans did years ago to save your Texas deer herd, we can achieve our goal.
If we can be of any assistance in any manner, please do. not hesitate to call on me.