Book – Legacy of Green

A Legacy of Green: The Making of Florida's Magnificent State Park System By Ney C. Landrum

A LEGACY OF GREEN -The Making of Florida’s Magnificent State Park System

Ney C. Landrum

ISBN 978-0-9887885-0-3, 296 pages, 8 1/2 x 11

Published 2013, $24.94 (FPSAA Price $20.00)

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From little more than a novel concept seventy-five years ago, Florida’s state park program has evolved today into a vast, diverse system of fascinating and irreplaceable natural wonders and historic memorials, spanning the state from one extremity to another. The magnificent system of state parks that resulted encapsulates all that is distinctive and special about the state of Florida, to be preserved indefinitely for the continuing enjoyment and edification of successive generations. It represents, by any measure, a truly extraordinary achievement.

But while the physical state park system may speak for itself as to the value it holds for Floridians, the story of how it came to be–highly important in its own right–has remained largely unknown. This is regrettable, of course, because it is a fascinating story, both interesting and instructive. But it is also understandable, for it is a story that has never really been told. To reconstruct over a hundred years of human activity and events that shaped Florida’s present state park system is a formidable task, and no doubt explains why it had never before been attempted. But it deserves to be formally recorded, and the chapters that follow represent my modest effort to rise to the occasion.

Considering the expansive scope of the subject matter, it was not easy to decide on a suitable approach for documenting it. One might think that a history of Florida’s state park system would deal primarily with the parks themselves, describing in detail the exciting attributes of each individual property. To me, however, the important thing was not the product so much as the process, and the people responsible for it. I was curious to know more about the people involved–their personalities, philosophies and motivations that determined the kind of park system they created. For this reason, I have tried to write a “history” not of the state park system per se, but of the making of the state park system.

I put the word “history” in quotation marks because I am not a historian and this is not really a history, strictly speaking. Rather, it is just a story that attempts to trace park-related actions and events that seemed to be either important or interesting, often both. Some might argue that I dealt too much in minutiae at some points. To this, I would plead guilty; but I justify it on the grounds that, in addition to being interesting, such details help reveal the inter-personal dynamics that prevailed at the time and influenced the actions that ensued. In trying to tell the story effectively, I could not refrain at times from adding personal comments that I thought might be helpful; most of these were inserted as footnotes, but often they were woven into the narrative. I’m sure the reader will have no trouble identifying my gratuitous amplifications. There is also some repetition here and there, which I considered necessary to establish context for related material being discussed at different times.

Many of the individuals who have been close to the inner workings of Florida’s state parks will be disappointed that I did not provide adequate coverage of the important events and activity that took place in the field. After all, that is really where most of the park history has been made–through the day-to-day toil and struggles of thousands of park service employees interacting with millions of park visitors over scores of years. The drama thus produced would be sufficient to fill more than one interesting volume. But the fact remains, however, that most of the decisions crucially affecting the course of Florida’s state park program have been made in Tallahassee–by the legislature, the governor, the various boards, and the agency heads–and that is where I have necessarily directed most of my attention.

As one of the protagonists, either directly or indirectly, in thirty years or more of the state parks drama, I readily acknowledge that I am not the most appropriate person to undertake an objective and impersonal account of these events. I obviously was too close to the scene to maintain a completely detached viewpoint. Consequently, my treatment of the period from the early 1960s to the early 1990s became more of a personal memoir than a straightforward exposition of the facts. I make no apology for this, because, biased or not, I felt I was in the best position to Comment on the events in which I was directly involved. If others have a different view of what transpired, they are certainly welcome to write their own account and let the readers weigh the results.

This project was originally conceived as a timely contribution to the commemoration of the Florida Park Service’s’ 75th anniversary, in 2010. The thinking at the time was that it would be a joint undertaking of the Division of Recreation and Parks and the Florida Park Service Alumni Association, carrying at least some semblance of an official cachet. To maintain a completely free editorial hand, however, I decided it would be best for me to pursue it as an individual effort, with the Alumni Association as the sole sponsor. While the Division of Recreation and Parks and many Florida Park Service personnel, both active and retired, have been unstinting in their support of the project throughout, all editorial decisions were entirely my own. I tried diligently to adhere to the facts as I was able to ascertain them, but the absence of documentary sources required that I resort to assumption and speculation in some instances. In such cases, I accept complete responsibility for all of the interpretations, interpolations and conclusions I made–hopefully with a judicious hand. Subsequent research may alter specific details, of course, but not necessarily my opinions.

Governor Claude Kirk presenting award to Ney C. Landrum as his wife, Matilde Landrum, looks on - Tallahassee, Florida 1970

Governor Claude Kirk presenting award to Ney C. Landrum as his wife, Matilde Landrum, looks on – Tallahassee, Florida 1970

Ney C. Landrum

Director Emeritus, Florida State Parks

Tallahassee, Florida

Spring, 2010

 

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Dedication ……………………………………………………………………………………… iii

A Note to Readers …………………………………………………………………………… vii

Preface …………………………………………………………………………………………. ix

Acknowledgments ……………………………………………………………………………. xi

Chapter One: “Paradise Found” ……………………………………………………………. 1

Chapter Two: Missed Opportunities………………………………………………………. 10

Chapter Three: “Lest We Forget”…………………………………………………………. 15

Chapter Four: The Ladies Take the Lead ……………………………………………….. 25

Chapter Five: Forestry Comes of Age……………………………………………………. 33

Chapter Six: State Parks–Ready or Not………………………………………………… 45

Chapter Seven: Florida’s First State Parks……………………………………………… 54

Chapter Eight: A Struggle to Survive……………………………………………………. 75

Chapter Nine: A New Champion Emerges………………………………………………. 91

Chapter Ten: Independence–And a New Beginning ………………………………. 109

Chapter Eleven: Collision Course……………………………………………………….. 128

Chapter Twelve: The Adolescent Years ……………………………………………….. 145

Chapter Thirteen: Another Focus: Outdoor Recreation…………………………….. 166

Chapter Fourteen: Partnership and Progress…………………………………………. 175

Chapter Fifteen: Reorganization: The Division of Recreation and Parks………… 191

Chapter Sixteen: Uncertainty and Change……………………………………………. 212

Chapter Seventeen: The Pendulum Swings Again………………………………….. 232

Chapter Eighteen: Expanding Horizons……………………………………………….. 241

Chapter Nineteen: Into the Third Millennium ……………………………………….. 256

Chapter Twenty: The Legacy ……………………………………………………………. 273

Appendices ………………………………………………………………………………….. 277

Index …………………………………………………………………………………………. 285