It is really great to be learning more about Florida’s west coast. My recent girls’ trip with high school friends Nic Mader and Cristina Maldonado was the “best-west” yet! What is so interesting is that no matter where I go, it seems my home town of Martin County follows, or is already there. When I opened the book I took along the trip for reference, Everglades, The Ecosystem and Its Restoration, guess who had written the forward? Martin County’s Nathaniel Reed. His final words after quoting Winston Churchill were “I count on you to never giver up!”
God, it’s hard sometimes isn’t it? In fact, part of the west coast trip was to get our minds off all happening on the east coast. And then there is SB 2508. But Mr Reed is right, we must never give up.
Another important fact is that after Mr Reed’s death, the Big Cypress Visitor’s Center was named in his honor. How awesome is that? The U.S.Hobe Sound Wildlife Refuge on the east coast and Big Cypress on the west. What a man!Mr Reed…
He was almost mythical…attending Rivers Coalition meetings in his 80s standing there speaking to us about the importance of the EAA Reservoir with his eyes partially closed, as in a trance. His arms folded, scarred, and weathered from his hundreds of fishing trips around the globe. At these meetings, he revealed insights from his days working in Tallahassee and Washington D.C. and many of the hurdles encountered.
In 2017, it meant the world to me, when Mr Reed wrote a letter to the editor of the Stuart News in support of a bill I sponsored, “A Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment.” I was getting hammered by Gunster lawyers during my appointment to the Constitution Revision Commission. Oh such a threat! Even the River Kidz were being humiliated. Mr Reed wrote in his letter:
“As one of the authors of the 1973 Clean Water Act. I attempted late in process to include agricultural pollution in the bill, but the major congressional supporters of the pending bill felt that by adding the controls on agricultural pollution the bill would fail.
Now, 54 years later, fertilizer and dairy waste are the main contributors to the pollution of the waters of our nation. Algal blooms are all too common even on the Great Lakes.
The “usual suspects” may defeat Thurlow -Lippisch’s brave effort, but you are right: The issues won’t go away! “
I never forgot these kind words, it made it all worth while when I felt like crying or walking into a corner. The bill failed. Time moves on but I never forgot. For me to see both Reed’s smiling face at the Big Cypress Visitors’ Center during our girls’ trip, and then ironically when I opened the Davis/Ogden book; it makes me feel like Mr Reed is still alive. He is speaking to us. Yes. Even when we are getting crushed, we cannot give up.
As I stood at Big Cypress something occurred to me that I had not realized before. The west coast is full of lands that were created because Mr Reed and others of his era did not give up even after tremendous disappointment.
- Audubon Corkscrew Swamp and Sanctuary (north west off map) est. 1953
- Picayune Strand State Forest est. 1995
- Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge est. 1989
- Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve est. 1974
- Big Cypress National Preserve est. 1974
- Everglades National Park est. 1947
In 1947, after going through the political blender, Everglades National Park ended up being half the size originally negotiated. Ernest F. Coe, who inspired many and envisioned a national park dedicated to the preservation of the Everglades, almost boycotted the park’s ribbon cutting he was so angry at the reduction in size. In the end, Mr Coe attended, but only after those the likes of Ms Marjory Stoneman Douglas insisted.
And years later as the list above shows, Corkscrew, Picayune, the Panther Refuge, Fakahatchee, and Big Cypress were established to a patchwork of pieces near or contiguous with Everglades National Park. The “titles”are different, but to the wildlife and our waters its all the same whether private, state forest, national wildlife refuge, national preserve, or national park…
My recent trip with childhood friends Nic and Cristina really brought Mr Reed’s message home! We must work on saving Florida a piece at a time, a drop of water at a time. Heads up! Even when the “usual suspects” get you down, get up, brush yourself off, hold your head high and keep walking. Go visit one of these treasured places. May we never, never, never give up! -Nic Mader, Cristina Maldonado, and JTL – Girls’ Trip 2022 -With the only panther we saw at the Nathaniel Reed Big Cypress Visitors’ Center! “Never give up!” We’ll be back! -Mr Reed’s Forward to EVERGLADES, by Davis and Ogden below-Timeline outside of Nathaniel Reed Big Cypress Visitors’ Center-Mr Reed, Everglades Coalition 2012. Photo JTL