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Buddy Blain

 

Friends of Buddy Blain will be saddened to learn that Buddy passed Wednesday, July 20, after a long illness and a recent stroke. Final arrangements are in the planning stages and will be posted when we learn them. For those of you long engaged in Florida’s decades of struggle to properly manage, protect and preserve its water and remaining natural systems, the passing of Buddy will remind us of the importance of continuing the work. It is never done.  Here’s a response I made to a lady who worked at SWFWMD when Buddy was a giant in the water management world and asked to know more about his role.  It was posted on the district’s SWFWMD Alumni Facebook page:

 

Cynthia, thank you for reminding me how time and tide can erase the footprints of those who precede us. To try and tell Buddy's complete story here would be an injustice to him as it would to the many who worked on evolving water management as a new concept for Florida when, at the time, Florida's singular objective was to ditch, dike, drain and "reclaim" as much swampland for development as possible. And, to be fair, there were many brilliant people in addition to Buddy who were involved in this unprecedented evolution who played roles just as important. So to say it as succinctly as I can, Buddy was a central figure in the development of many of the laws and rules that today now define Florida's concepts of water management as total resource management vs. permanent dewatering and structural flood control. He was a lawyer with the Gibbons law firm and did both legislative and institutional legal work for SWFWMD for years through the '70s and 80's and was personally involved in the passing of Chapter 373, the base law that guides water management in Florida today. As a man. he was personable but also a shrewd and strategic thinker who carried out game-planning like a chess champion, playing personalities and opportunities toward given ends, while still fun to be around. Buddy was unique in his ability to garner connections on both sides of the political aisle and devise mutually acceptable legislative language that would become law. Some will remember how his negotiating tactic was simple, keep the meeting going by talking and talking and talking until everyone was so tired and wanting it to end that agreement seemed the only way out. I sense that the political landscape has so drastically changed since Buddy's days of involvement that it's hard for those in the game today to grasp the importance of what and how much was accomplished by so few in those days, all in an amazing short period of time. Today, it seems, the goal is not to do, but to undo all that’s intended to preserve natural Florida for the future. Buddy, I believe, did what he could to give Florida the realization that water and protection of its natural systems is more than a key - it’s the key - to its economic future, and he accomplished a great deal. Some years back the University of Florida developed an oral history project in which Lester M. "Buddy" Blain was interviewed. For a glimpse into what it took for this state to conceptualize, refine, define and institute Florida's water management system, see his interview at http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00072676/00001