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A History of
Public Lands in
Southwest Florida

Fakahatchee High Water Swamp

by Nicholas G. Penniman IV
and Franklin Adams

Cover Photography by Clyde Butcher
 Photograph by Connie Bransilver
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Enjoyment of the Same


This book began in an attempt to understand the origins and sources of a massive die off of Florida manatees in the Indian River Lagoon of Martin County on the east coast of Florida. There is a smaller, and genetically slightly different, population along the west coast, and the idea was to identify early steps to prevent a similar die off, particularly since the west coast had been hit hard by a 19-month red tide and blue-green algae outbreak in 2018 and 2019. 

Working through the initial phase it soon became obvious that a great deal had already been written about the manatees and that state and federal wildlife managers were on top of it.

In addition there were a number of nonprofit organizations intimately and directly involved. My focus for the past 20 years had been primarily on issues in southwest Florida and the Indian River lagoon was a long way away. It was time to shift gears.

While doing further research I had a conversation with Franklin Adams, who is a very large part of this book. We began to discuss how so much of Collier County—almost 70%—ended up as public lands and about how to make sure that future development was to the highest standards of land management. Adams had great experience with saving the Fakahatchee Strand and an ongoing love of the Turner River, a clear and free flowing stream that was part of his growing up in southwest Florida.


The story of south Florida is a story of the water and the land, how they meet and how they interact to provide a rich subtropical but ever fragile landscape. The sheer productivity and resilience of nature provided thousands of years of resources to fulfill most all human needs. Then, development occurred with little thought as to the consequences and with much emphasis on man’s right to take nature and mold it to fit immediate desires and rewards.

This book was inspired by the last paragraph of Ray Dasmann’s great work published in 1967:

“If you can’t win the fight for Florida’s environment, what can you win, and is it worth winning? Are you really prepared to

acquiesce while the dredge-and-fill, the high-rise and the low-rise developments, the highways and the jet- ports, the barge canals and the industrial parks, cut the land to ribbons? Are you willing to wait until the pesticides accumulate and the wildlife has gone? While the waters of every stream and lake and bay become choked and filthy? Will you be willing to steer your little boat down a dirty canal into a fishless ocean? Do you really want to make extra money at the expense of your home country, knowing it can buy you only a little more of what you already have in surfeit, knowing it can buy you no refuge? Where do you go when all the fair places have been ruined? Where do you go from Florida?”

The Authors

Nicholas Penniman IV

Nicholas G. Penniman IV

Nicholas G. Penniman IV retired in 1999 as publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and as senior VP of newspaper operations for Pulitzer Publishing Company. A 1960 graduate of Princeton University with an M.A. from Washington University, St. Louis, he is a Florida Master Naturalist. 

Franklin Adams

Franklin Adams

Franklin Adams is a native of Miami and
graduated from Miami-Dade Jr. College. He was a
U.S. Army Engineer in Surveying & Mapping, an
officer in the U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Marine,and,
of course, a Florida Master Naturalist. 


5.0 out of 5 stars 

A well-done history of southwest Florida's environmental challenges

Reviewed in the United States on December 10, 2022

"After living in Naples, Florida for the last twelve years, I never appreciated the history, environmental issues, and biodiversity, of southwest Florida until I read "Enjoyment of the Same."

For years we had visited Corkscrew Swamp to view its wildlife, attended events at Oil Well Park and had lunch in Chokoloskee, a small settlement bordering Ten Thousand Islands. After reading this short, entertaining book I now understand the role these and other regions have played in the development of southwest Florida's environment.

Sample Pages

John G. Beriault created a number of wonderful maps for the book that visually enhance the history of Southwest Florida.

Enjoyment of the Same, page 10
Enjoyment of the Same, page 56
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"I was a friend of Marjory Douglas and part of the early Friends of the Everglades effort to have the Big Cypress named a National Preserve. Then, through some of my other activities became deeply involved in the formation of a number of large conservation project in particular the Turner River and the Fakahatchee Strand."
- Franklin Adams

Photograph by Connie Bransilver

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