Hal Chittum on Everglades Conservation

John Kipp

John Kipp

We conducted our first interview with boat builder Hal Chittum yesterday and ended up talking about more than just how naval architects and small-boat fanatics can produce interesting hull designs.  Hal and I spent a lot of time off the record discussing the state of Everglades conservation, and in particular what is happening with the establishment of so-called “pole-and-troll zones” in Everglades National Park.

He described a monumental effort by guide John Kipp–who virtually took two years off from guiding to work on management plan issues, attending public meetings and working to create compromise, while moving guides and others toward a better understanding of the need to protect the fragile flats of the Park.  Kipp and Chittum both worked hard on the issues, and met stiff opposition from commercial interests and even in some members of Park management.  But the scientists, he said “were always on our side.”

“What’s the status of the plan now,” I asked him.  “It’s moving forward, but the lack of funding means it is happening more slowly than it should.”

It’s just another reminder that the people who are most enchanted by the culture of small-boat performance also are often the most obsessed, and careful, about the environment we are privileged to enjoy.