By Nic Stoltzfus
Two weeks ago Elam and I filmed two more interviews for the upcoming Coastal Dune Lakes film.
First we interviewed Manley Fuller. He is the President of the Florida Wildlife Federation. They are a non-profit organization that focuses on “preserving, managing, and improving Florida’s fish, wildlife, soil, water, and plant life.” We interviewed Manley because, early in his career with FWF, he worked with local organizations to protect the land that is now Topsail Hill Preserve State Park.
The FWF office is located right off of Apalachee Parkway in Tallahassee and, as we went into the building, a collection of FWF staff were just finishing up a meeting. Manley told us to head on upstairs to the office and wait for him. We went up to say hello to Diane Hines, the Vice President of Administration. As soon as she saw Dad she said, “Elam, Congratulations!” He tilted his head sideways and said, “Um…what for?” She told him that he had been awarded Florida Wildlife Federation’s Conservationist of the Year; she had just sent him the acceptance letter two days ago and figured he had already gotten it. “Wow Dad! Congrats!” I chimed in. He grinned and said thanks. Diane’s daughter taught English in Korea during the same time I was teaching English in Japan and we talked about that for awhile and then Manley came back up and told us he was ready for the interview.
We set up our interview equipment in the FWF conference room which also doubles as the Alliance Française de Tallahassee meeting room. During his interview Manley highlighted several things about his time working in the South Walton region and also gave us some great quotes.
“There is a mosaic of habitat types which support quite a variety of wildlife both in the state park preserve and in the state forest. And I have seen, I have personally observed beavers, I have seen alligator nests, gopher tortoises, and then all sorts of marine life, shorebirds, wading birds, largemouth bass, I’ve seen a largemouth bass caught in some of those lakes, and you are right at the ocean.”
“It’s not just members of conservation groups that care about this stuff. I think there is a much broader public support for our national forests, our national wildlife refuges, our state parks, our wildlife management areas, our state forests, our historical cultural sites. There is a great interest in that because these are wonderful resources. They are a part of the natural tableau of Florida and that is something that really draws people here. So not only is it good for maintaining native species and natural biodiversity where people can come and recreate, it is a real draw…we need to be protecting our natural resources and that has natural resource values and it has economic value.”
The next day we headed over to Panama City, close to FSU’s Panama City Campus, and interviewed Jim Barkuloo. He is a former field supervisor with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He now works with the St. Andrew Bay Resource Management Association (RMA) as a volunteer coordinator of the Baywatch program and does water quality monitoring in the St. Andrew Bay watershed. He has been doing monitoring with the organization for over 20 years. Lake Powell, the easternmost coastal dune lake, is considered part of the St. Andrew Bay watershed and he assists in doing water quality monitoring there, as well.
It was a rainy day and when Dad and I entered his house we took off our shoes so we didn’t get his white carpet messy. As I scanned the room it reminded me of my grandparents’ home—very neat, clean, with a minimalist approach. He had a whole series of encyclopedias on a wall-size bookshelf. When I get old I doubt if I would have hardback encyclopedias in my home. Wikipedia has spoiled it for me, I guess. He asked if we wanted anything to drink, and I requested coffee with a little bit of cream. We sat down and chatted for awhile, in no hurry, before doing the interview. He provided us with some good information about the interaction of the uplands with the dune lakes and also a few thoughts on the dune lakes themselves.
“If you keep the health of the bay it will affect the health of the shoreline along the Gulf and it is true with the watershed going into the dune lakes and Lake Powell and if you can keep the upland protected it will help keep the water quality and the habitat in good shape for the dune lakes in the gulf. So, that has been our emphasis in the last many years.”
“Another characteristic of the dune lakes is that they aren’t always open. They close down once in awhile. They have a temporary dams sown up either by the sand or whatever and then they open up and fluctuate back and forth. So there is quite a unique situation there and it’s complicated from the standpoint of biology because it is constantly changing.”
It was nice to get two more interviews “in the can” (a film slang for completing shooting on a piece. In the old days, when people shot movies on film, after a reel of film was exposed/shot they would put the reel back in the can: it was finished and the director had the shots he wanted—hence “in the can”). This brought our total number of interviews for the Coastal Dune Lakes film up to 13. We still have a few more interviews to finish, but we have already completed the bulk of them for the film. The summer, we will do historical and scientific research concerning the coastal dune lakes, make a trip to Australia to do a comparison study with the dune lakes there, and start editing down a rough draft of the script.
For more information on this project head over to our website: http://coastaldunelakes.org/home.html