Segment: Questions from the audience for MSD

Source: Lecture by Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Fort Lauderdale, May 6, 1983. Produced by Florida International University Learning Resources for FIU/FAU Joint Center

Link to Audio: SPC930_19

Length of Segment: 00:05:47

John: “Okay, how about questions, to Marjorie?”

Marjorie: “I think I’ve covered it pretty well.”

Member of Audience: “I read in the paper, a week or so ago, that the Corps of Engineers now says that they have to have an environmental impact statement before they can change the drainage through into Everglades National Park .”

Marjorie: “Well, that may be according to their legal requirements. I don’t think it’d be any great problem to get an environmental impact statement, but I hadn’t seen that and, of course, what I think is that they’re just temporizing and that we may have to get, I think probably the short cut would be to go to Congress, and to their, to that Senate committee on…”

John: “Interior (unintelligible).”

John: Yes, and get them to tell us what can be done and can’t be done.  I see no reason why we shouldn’t have an environmental impact statement. We, certainly it’s been impacted, you might say.”

John: “Yes. “

Marjorie: “Yes.”

Another Member of Audience: “I’m from Water Management District.  That’s only on the L-67 Extension that you have to get that. We’re competing with work to get a better delivery schedule to the park, and have written to the committee, joining with the park and the Corps”

Marjorie: “Awfully sorry. I’m not hearing very well.”

Second Audience Member: “I’m sorry. Going again. I was just explaining to her, that we have, we are working to get some of that work done at that environmental impact statement, just on one part of it, but I have a question for you.  And then, I’m a native of Michigan and I now work for the South Florida Water Management District…”

Marjorie: “Yes. “

Second Audience Member: “…and do quite extensive speaking for the District, but you were here when the decisions were made, in the forties, to bring in the Corps and do the projects and all. Do you think, at that time, that people realized what harm would come?

Marjorie: “No, I don’t, and oh, I didn’t realize it either.  I am the first, of all offenders, because in that book I wrote, The Everglades: River of Grass, at the end of the last chapter, that book was published in ‘47, the year when the engineers came in and I said myself, ‘Now the engineers have come in and the problems of the Everglades will be solved.’  Well, I was a cockeyed liar.  You know, really, and I’ve had to rewrite that last statement I assure you.  Nobody realized and I suppose you can’t blame the Corps of Engineers for not realizing, but I blame them, because it seems to me, if you’re going to do an engineering problem, project, you ought to understand the country that it’s in. You ought to be able to make,  they didn’t make very much of a study. I don’t think they studied much more than a year. “

Audience Member: “There wasn’t the public opinion, as you say, the impetus to do those type of studies and there wasn’t the technology available…”

Marjorie: “No, quite right.

Audience Member: “…and there weren’t the scientists...”

Marjorie: “Well, there was, there was this study on the ground water of Southeastern Florida, which is an excellent, excellent study, but they didn’t pay much attention to it.  You know, they’re kind of independent customers. They don’t, they’re not on any State control, at all, and they’re a little, I think they’re a little arrogant.  I’ve said that to their faces, so I’m not saying it behind their backs, because you know what they’ve done all over the country with the wild rivers. They love to put damns in rivers. They hate a wild river. They just naturally hate it, and they like to canalize things. That’s the way they do it and I think we’ve got to, we’ve got to stop some of that.

John says; “The first comprehensive study, of this area was done in the thirties, by a cooperative group of federal state agencies. It was called, Bulletin 442.”

Marjorie says; “Oh!”
John: “Remember that one?”

Marjorie: “442. Yes.”

John: “And it was used to, actually the 1947 project, in spite of it’s unfortunate name, ‘Flood Control’, at least abandoned the idea of draining all the Everglades…”

Marjorie: “Oh, quite! Oh, quite.”

John: ”…and we had the, before that we were going to drain it every damn day. Every inch of it, every yard of it, all of it. And, then we came, in seventy two, to a new sensitivity and now in 1983, we’re gonna come to a new sensitivity…

Marjorie: “Yes, yes, and I’m very glad that…”

John: “…and the hope is that this will be the last, (unintelligible).”

Marjorie: “The last sensitivity, (audience laughter).  Well, I think so. I’ve talked to Mr. Malloy and people and they all seem to be so very much more aware than they used to be. Well, you know why. Is because we’ve all been yelling and screaming.  How do you like that!”

John: “Justly and rightly and happily so.”

Marjorie: “Yes.”

John: “Now, maybe we’ll take one more question if you have it but I don’t think we should overdo our privilege.”

Marjorie: “Oh, I can keep on talking, but it’s a question of time.”

John: “Is there another question?” If not, I am going to say again what an honor it’s been to have this great lady with us. Delighted and I hope she’ll come back many times and I don’t think her age should be any inhibitor in that. It reminds me of a gentleman in Haysville, North Carolina, where I have a place. I’m part of the problem in North Carolina, and he went into get his driver’s license at the age of a hundred…”

Marjorie: “There!”

John: “…and you can get a driver’s license for four years, in North Carolina.”

Marjorie: “Oh, really?”

John: “And as he walked out the door, he said, “Well, I’ll see you in four years.”

Marjorie: “Well, I’ll tell you, I had a lot of ancestors from North Carolina. That’s where it comes from”

John: “Oh, good. So you see, that probably accounts for your longevity.”

Marjorie: “That’s where it comes from. Maybe he was one of mine.”

John: “Again, we want to thank you so much for being with us and we hope you’ll be back many times.”

Marjorie: “Very pleased.”