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Tudor Jones is also the driver and energy behind the Everglades Foundation; the primary environmental organizing force for the multi-billion dollar effort to restore America's faded River of Grass.
These days extraordinary wealth invites critical commentary. It runs along the lines from the Great Gatsby to the chasm separating the top .1 percent of earners; the widest gulf in modern times. But extraordinary wealth provides extraordinary opportunity. Tudor Jones is a rare example of wealth and intelligence applied -- over decades -- to societal problems that have resisted government solutions.
Tudor Jones -- a part-time resident of Islamorada -- was drawn to the environment through his love of fly fishing. (I am one of a handful of people who were around, in the Keys, when he first began his inquiries into the sad decline of habitats in Florida Bay.) Since that time, no other individual has contributed so many millions and so much organizational skill to the restoring the Everglades.
In the mid-1990's, Tudor Jones funded a Florida state-wide ballot initiative that succeeded in passing a constitutional amendment holding the polluters of the Everglades primarily responsible to clean up their pollution. The measure was bitterly fought by Big Sugar and, subsequently, has failed to be enacted by the Florida legislature. It has proven extraordinarily difficult to wage battle against bunkered, special interests that exert their command through legislatures, Congress, the White House and the dozens of government agencies controlled by well-financed politicians and political appointees.
This year's session of the Florida legislature, with more than fifty lobbyists for Big Sugar roaming the hallways like top predators, demonstrated the practical impossibility for visible signs of restoration -- measured by the return of wildlife in abundance to the River of Grass -- in our lifetimes. It is also a frustrating paradox that in NYC, the Robin Hood Foundation supports partnerships with industry to solve public problems but in the Everglades, trying to solve problems in a business-like way only fortifies the prerogatives of private greed.
Those bonefish, permit, tarpon and biodiversity sprung from ten thousand years of evolution. They proved our best acts are legacies of the natural world we leave for future generations. Fixing poverty in New York City is a lighter lift than returning either the wilderness, or taxpayer equity in the Everglades. For trying both -- with intense energy, focus, and financial commitment, Paul Tudor Jones earns a full measure of credit.