To the Editor:
Now that the FWC has voted unanimously 7 to 0 to ban the snagging of Tarpon in Boca Grande Pass, there are some people I wish to thank publicly, without whom none of this would have happened.
On behalf of the more than 22,000 followers of savethetarpon.com I would like to thank the following people, whose most generous contribution made this happen. We could not have attended these FWC meetings without them. These meetings were held all over the state and, because of their kindness and belief in what we were doing, we were able to attend them to further our cause of protecting the tarpon of Boca Grande Pass.
I have been attending these meetings for 10 years now, along with others in the community trying to persuade the FWC to hear the voice of reason in this matter. We were able to do this because of your many kindnesses!
First I would like to thank my friend, the late and great T.R. Potter and family of St. Louis whose support never wavered. T.R. was a national board member of Ducks Unlimited and made significant contributions to that organization for purchase of habitat. His commitment to these causes was nothing less than outstanding. He gave us his Maule Amphibious airplane to use during this long battle to do what was right. Thank you, T.R.
Next, of course, would be to August Busch III and his son, Steven, whose father and grandfather, Gussie, fished Boca Grande for many years aboard the Miss Budweiser, captained by island native Johnny Downing. Also, I would like to thank Rusty Hager of St. Louis and Boca Grande, whose family has fished these waters for generations. Thank you, August, Steven and Rusty!
Next would be John Touchett of Boca Grande and Milwaukee. He is the retired president of Newell Rubbermaid. His father also invented the paint roller. John has funded inner city schools in Milwaukee for years and they boast a 99 percent graduation rate. It has been said that 96 percent of those kids graduate from college. Astounding!
The Maule Amphibious airplane we used to collect Dr. Justin Grubich from Orlando to Boca Grande is owned by George Argyros Jr. Dr. Grubich is the world’s leading fish morphologist, and his involvement was crucial to the cause. Thanks, George!
For years I have flown for James Randall Baird, and having the Grumman Widgeon to fly to the meeting in Lakeland, as well to the final meeting in Pensacola, was not only a treat but a luxury. Randy’s company, JRB, manufactured the world’s finest hydraulic couplers for the heavy equipment industry. We covered over 40 states together on hunting and fishing adventures in the seaplane during a 15 year period. Wow! The 1941 Widgeon was first owned by big band leader, Vaughn Monroe, and went through a 14 year, $1 million restoration. Fabulous!
Charlie Harrison, thanks so much for the contribution of your King Air for the Havana, Florida meeting. We were able to bring 11 people with two aircraft, and convince the commission it was right to place the item on the agenda.
Finally, I want to thank Randy Wayne White for all that he did. We would never have gained the traction on this issue without him. It would take more than a paragraph to discuss his contribution to this cause, but I will try when I see all of you this season.
All of the people I mention above share a specific commonality in that they are great outdoorsmen and they believe in righting this wrong.
All of what we accomplished was aided by the fly fishermen of our community. Specifically, I wish to thank Patrick Wilmerding, Dick Nielsen, Pierce Walmsley, Bill Bishop and many others who contributed toward this effort.
One last thing. I want to thank Tweed Roosevelt for writing his letter to the commission. Exemplary!
Best personal regards to all,
Mark FutchGeneralissimo ComandanteSave The Tarpon Air Force
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