The History of Water in Florida

Stop order from President Richard Nixon

From: Florida Division of Resource Management, Cross Florida Barge Canal records, 1963-1981 (Series 149, Box 8, Folder 3)

President Richard Nixon issued this stop order following years of arguments between advocates and opponents of the Cross Florida Barge Canal. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a federal entity under Nixon’s authority as commander in chief, was responsible for constructing the canal.

Speech of Governor Reubin Askew at the Governor»s Conference on Water Management in South Florida, held at Miami Beach, September 22, 1971

JANUARY 19, 1971



I am today ordering a halt to further construction of the Cross Florida Barge Canal to prevent potentially serious environmental damages.

The purpose of the Canal was to reduce transportation costs for barge shipping. It was conceived and designed at a time when the focus of Federal concern in such matters was still almost completely on maximizing economic return. In calculating that return, the destruction of natural, ecological values was not counted as a cost, nor was a credit allowed for actions preserving the environment.

A natural treasure is involved in the case of the Barge Canal -- the Oklawaha River -- a uniquely beautiful, semi-tropical stream, one of a very few of its kind in the United States, which would be destroyed by construction of the Canal.

The Council on Environmental Quality has recommended to me that the project be halted, and I have accepted its advice. The Council has pointed out to me thast the project could endanger the unique wildlife of the area and destroy this region of unusual and unique natural beauty.

The total cost of the project if it were completed would be about $180 million. About $50 million has already been committed to construction. I am asking the Secretary of the Army to work with the Council on Environmental Quality in developing recommendations for the future of the area.

The step I have taken today will prevent a past mistake from causing permanent damage. But more important, we must assure that in the future we take not only full but also timely account of the environmental impact of such projects -- so that instead of merely halting the damage, we prevent it.

# # #