Wednesday, January 06, 2016

The Arthur B. Marshall Foundation: Everglades "restoration" loses a tiger ... by gimleteye

Not many knew the non-profit organization called the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation unless one lived in Palm Beach county or spent time in the community of groups and individuals involved with restoration of Florida's faded glory, the Everglades.

Yesterday, the environmental group released a statement without elaboration; it was in effect closing down. The Foundation's founders and visible leaders, Nancy and John Marshall, spent their best years fighting for the Everglades. By implication, a new generation of leadership -- and of funders to pay key staff -- could not be recruited.

The foundation was named for Art Marshall, John's uncle and an early scientist to warn about the mismanagement of Florida fresh water resources and those impacts on the Everglades.

John, a retired military veteran, was a key grass roots activist until recent years; he is soft-spoken but has a steely determination to keep alive the basic concept his uncle spent years educating Floridians and elected representatives: that Everglades restoration means recreating the flow of clean, fresh water from Lake Okeechobee back through the remnant River of Grass -- some three million acres, today -- to Florida Bay.

In other words, take a part of Big Sugar's lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area out of agriculture and return a volume of surface water storage equal to the task. Over many years, the Art Marshall Foundation advocated for a "flow-way" with the persistence of banging a drum slowly.

On this point, Friends of the Everglades -- founded in the late 1960's by one of Art Marshall's colleagues and friends, Marjory Stonemason Douglas -- did not have a stronger ally.

I have enormous respect and admiration for the years the Marshalls dedicated to the cause I share, now, as board president of Friends. What I admire most is that the Marshall Foundation had the tenacity, courage, and factual arguments to offer the governor's appointees of the South Florida Water Management District in whatever forums the District devised to maintain the illusion of public involvement in the most costly and complex environmental restoration undertaken anywhere on the planet: the Everglades. John and I often discussed the external obstacles to Everglades restoration but also the internal ones.

Everglades "restoration" -- from the non-governmental side -- was once defined by a significant divide. One on side, a handful of smaller, grass roots groups -- like the Arthur B. Marshall Foundation -- that shared the objective of pressing, as a matter of civic engagement, politics, and the law, for restoring the hydrology that once defined the Everglades but had been severely deformed to the water needs of rapidly growing Florida cities and mainly the seasonal water demands of Big Sugar. John Marshall was an influential voice on this side of the divide.

The other side of the gulf is populated by large environmental groups with funding and resources to deploy policy specialists, staff and lobbyists like Audubon of Florida. Today the Everglades Foundation is the principal environmental organization and funder of groups from Audubon to World Wildlife Fund and National Parks and Conservation Association. Although these groups also advocate for "connectivity", they are guided mostly by political pragmatism.

The winding down of the Marshall Foundation represents further sign of contraction of grass roots involvement by dedicated citizens like Nancy and John Marshall who believed that sticking to idealistic goals, even in defiance of political odds, was a better course of action than compromise -- another word, in this view, for capitulation.

In order to press the District, one had to live in Palm Beach. The repetitive and near constant stream of policy meetings and forums take place at District headquarters. When John Marshall and his arguments for a flow-way were dismissed -- often rudely -- he never flinched; he kept getting back up to the speaker's podium and delivering more, year after year. It is hard to explain that resiliency and where it came from, but for those of us old enough to recall, one place it came from was the Everglades itself; a brilliant example of God's creation.

Although the Art Marshall Foundation also maintained educational programs, internships and community outreach like tree planting to engage the public, new to Florida or otherwise enthralled by what remains of the Everglades, its biggest contribution was grass roots leadership for a flow-way instead of the compartmentalized plan for allocating fresh water resources that exists to maintain the status quo and prerogatives of Big Sugar.

The Art Marshall Foundation stayed that course, holding up the flag like the soldiers at Iwo Jima. As proud as John Marshall is of his military service, a Top Gun graduate and retired Colonel of the U.S. Air Force, I am proud of what Nancy and he accomplished with the Arthur B. Marshall Foundation.


Marshall environmental group: We’ll phase out offices, staff

Posted: 6:51 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016
By Eliot Kleinberg - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

The Arthur R. Marshall Foundation for The Everglades will phase out its suburban West Palm Beach office and staff and work with other groups to continue its environmental outreach, the group said Tuesday.

Art Marshall, a biologist, naturalist, lecturer, writer and philosopher, died at 65 in 1985. He’s hailed as the father of Florida’s environmental movement. The Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Palm Beach County, the northernmost remnant of the Everglades, was named for him. His nephew, John Arthur Marshall, started the Marshall Foundation in 1998.

+Marshall environmental group: We’ll phase out offices, staff photo MEGHAN MCCARTHY
Nancy and John Marshall. Meghan McCarthy photo
John Marshall and his wife Nancy had operated the foundation along with Nancy’s daughter, Josette George Kaufman, who joined in 2005 after two decades as a financial analyst. The group was rocked in 2013 when Kaufman died suddenly of an illness at 53. In recent years, John Marshall has been seriously ill and Nancy has had to spend time as a caregiver.

Tuesday’s note called Josette “the machine behind the organization” and Nancy Marshall “the oil, who made it all happen, who championed the programming, rallied supporters and the fundraising efforts.”

The note said that “the attempt to replace (the three) has proven insurmountable. In 2016, the Board of Directors will work with other organizations to continue the key programs of the foundation and create a platform to continue the support of environmental education.

+Marshall environmental group: We’ll phase out offices, staff photo ED TANCIG
Arthur R. Marshall in 1972. Palm Beach Post file photo by Ed Tancig
Through the years, the foundation said, it has awarded more than $450,000 in scholarships and internships, planted nearly 100,000 native Florida trees in wetland areas, educated more than 25,000 elementary and high school students and involved more than 5,000 volunteers in hands-on restoration projects.

“We are proud of this legacy and know that the work of preserving and restoring the Everglades is more important today than ever before,” the note said. “However, it is time to let others take the lead and continue the good work of the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation for The Everglades and to preserve its legacy.”

The group expects to phase out three environmental educators by April and also will stay in the office around the same time, depending on the condition of its lease, foundation spokeswoman Elaine Meier told The Palm Beach Post Tuesday.

Meier did not provide financial details. But she stressed that the foundation “is solvent.” She also said it already had been working with other groups on its programs and that it plans to continue its scholarships and tree planting., which monitors non-profits, said the foundation, on 2014 federal tax forms, reported $510,864 in revenue and $532,746 in expenses. It reported $1.1 million in assets and $177,004 in liabilities.

State Rep. Mark S. Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, became the foundation’s Chief Executive Officer in May 2014 but left in October 2015 to be CEO of of Florida CHAIN, the statewide health advocacy organization.

Nat Reed, the former Assistant U.S. Secretary of the Interior and current the vice chair of the Everglades Foundation, said Tuesday that John and Nancy Marshall will be working with his group “on a weekly basis. We consider them valuable partners.”

Reed, 82,, said from Jupiter Island that the Marshall Foundation has highlighted Everglades problems and solutions, keeping alive the memory of Art Marshall, “Florida’s first great ecologist.” He said Marshall was “a pure scientist, and he educated hundreds of young environmentalists, including me.”

1 comment:

cyndi said...

This is terrible sad news.