Skip to comments.FReeper GladesGuru has passed
Posted on 02/07/2018 7:51:56 AM PST by Carry_Okie
I have an important announcement of interest to long-time FReepers: FReeper GladesGuru, ecologist, and private property advocate, has died from complications due to prostate cancer. He was 75.
Jan (pronounced “Yan”) Jacobson was a man of acerbic wit who could cut to the bottom line with a merciless precision. Pity the bureaucrat or academic peddling questionable “facts” under his scrutiny. His passion was wildlife biology and its relation to habitat. For over thirty years, he was Director of the Everglades Institute, a private parcel within the Big Cypress National Preserve, immediately adjacent to Everglades National Park. The parcel is unusual in that it possesses a six acre pond, once a “borrow pit” dug out to mine rock for construction fill, some of which was piled alongside the pond. As the vegetation filled in, this provided a graduation of habitat types from deeper water, to a small hillock and everything in between, making it an ideal place to observe a variety of wildlife. It is also unusual in that it is private, one of the few places in the Everglades region where one can conduct independent research and teaching.
Jan was an ambitious man. On the board of his Institute were eminent scientists such as Dr. Earl Rich of the University of Miami, and Glades experts, including even Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, author of the iconic book about the Glades, River of Grass. Mrs. Douglas probably did more than anyone to assure that the Glades were protected as a National Park, yet she retained suspicions about government and academic science and was thus enthusiastic in lending her prestige to the Everglades Institute.
Jan’s dream was a teaching center for gifted young people, to entice them with the complexity and demanding scope of scientific ecological work in the Everglades. Jan is a lifelong Florida resident, the son of a successful Jewish scrap dealer. He put all he had into developing his educational program, only to run afoul of the neighboring National Park Service. Court battles with the bureaucrats cost him half his land, on the pretext that it wasn’t being used for its educational purposes as proposed. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that the Park Service had flooded that part of the property to the point that it was virtually inaccessible.
Hence, the relationship with the Park Service was clouded with constant antipathy. Jan stood for management methods consistent with those practiced by aboriginal peoples for millennia as a way to assure habitat for early successional plants, necessary for wildlife forage. His observation was that wildlife was LEAVING the Park; that everything that could walk, crawl, or fly had walked crawled, or flown somewhere else because of the declining conditions within the Park. The only species that had increased was the number of “Park- Persons.”
To document Park Service mismanagement, Jan built unique equipment for exploration, observation, and teaching. Eventually the Park Service obtained an injunction to preclude his operation of that equipment. Jan also opposed the listing of the “Florida Panther” as endangered, perhaps having something to do with the fact that the cats had been imported from Texas and were genetically virtually identical to mountain lions across the rest of the continent undeserving of listing as an endangered “subspecies.” He had no patience for scientific fraud.
Jan was an accomplished aircraft pilot. As a landowner in the Glades he obtained a Sea Bee amphibious aircraft, taking many hours of video with which to document changing habitat conditions. In his final year, his goal was to fly over much of America, to capture the differences between government and private land ownership. Unfortunately, no one can estimate accurately the rate of decline under stage 4 cancer against the current array of treatments. That goal of travelling the nation with his plane went unrealized.
Jan was a potent activist and effective communicator, having offered testimony both at the State level and before Congress. He was a consistent opponent of Florida Senator Bob Graham (D) and his illegal plan to flood the Glades region, thus depriving many landowners of the productive use of their property. Jan joined Henry Lamb in the Sawgrass Rebellion (here, here, and here) which gained national attention in 2002, also tracked and promoted here on FR. Henry was perhaps the nation’s leading advocate of private land management toward improving ecological conditions and a staunch opponent of the steady series of land grabs that have been opposed here on FR.;
I first became acquainted with Henry as I was writing my first book, Natural Process, which proposed a free-enterprise based system to manage competing, uncertain, spatially and temporally variable, and complex risks associated with habitat management. Eventually, I was a speaker at Henry’s Freedom 21 Conference in St. Louis. Henry introduced me to Jan as a pair of compatible intellectuals likely to exchange and develop innovative ideas. That friendship continued until his death.
Jan was my go-to sounding board, perhaps the only person in the world capable of comprehending fully the kind of synthetic multidisciplinary ideas associated with my research into the relationships between human value systems and ecological vitality. His assistance in finding an Orthodox rabbi capable of assessing my second book on the Sabbath for the Land was indispensible. These last years of watching his declining health has been tempered with the kind of camaraderie seldom to be had in these latter days.
Jan is survived by no other family than an estranged sister (a liberal psychologist), albeit he had many friends. We will all miss him deeply.
Ping to those familiar.
I’m sorry to hear this. Prayers for all who loved him.
RIP GladesGuru, and thank you for all your good work on earth.
Rest in Peace good Patriot...
Eternal rest,thanks for posting this Carry_Okie.I will remember him in my rosary today.
Jan was a prolific FReeper, an amazing person in real life and a great American. The world is a better place for him being in it.
I am sorry to read of his death. God be with those who mourn for him.
We are saddened by the passing of one of us.
Unfortunately, the title "ecologist" has come to have a negative connotation around here...too bad.
Do you know how the Memorial Wall is maintained and how departed FReepers are added?
Always shocked at the young age so many have left this earth.
As we mark 20 years of FReeRepublic it is not surprising that many of us are well into our 7th and 8th decades of life.
Quite a man! Quite a loss!
His voice and activism will be missed.
See you at “the big meeting”.
I wish him Gods Speed. May the Lord comfort his family.
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