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Interview with James Holland, September 24, 2013

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:00 - Interview Introduction

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Partial Transcript: This is the Georgia Environmental Oral History Project, number eight.

00:00:22 - Personal background

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Partial Transcript: Mr. Holland, welcome, and what I'd like to do is go back a little bit and have you tell us where you were born and raised, and what you did to earn a living during most of your working career?

Segment Synopsis: Holland talks about his "working career," from his move to Macon, Georgia in the 1940's to when he settled in Brunswick in 1978. He briefly describes his experiences in the U.S. Marine Corp in 1958, working for Warner Robbins Air Force Base, working as a project manager for the Glynn County Naval Air Station, and working as a project manager for the Army dining facilities at Fort Benning.

Keywords: Altamaha Riverkeeper; Army; Brunswick, GA; Naval Air Station Glynco; Warner Robbins Air Force Base; blue crab fishing; coastal Georgia; commercial fisheries; commercial fishermen; project management; riverkeepers; riverkeeping

00:02:25 - Blue crab fishing in "the golden times"

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Partial Transcript: And where would you, you had your own boat?

Segment Synopsis: Holland discusses where he parked his boat as a "crabber," the boat itself, and the fishing operation in which he was involved. He further talks about the crabbing industry in what he calls the "golden times."

Keywords: coastal commercial fishing; commercial blue crab fishing; commercial fishing; crabbing industry; estuary fishing; marshland fishing

00:06:55 - Blue crab population decline and the fresh water problem in the 1990s

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Partial Transcript: And to what did you all attribute that decline, what was happening?

Segment Synopsis: Holland discusses his attitude regarding the decline of the blue crab populations and the declining state of the fresh water estuaries on coastal Georgia. He further talks on the intersection of estuary protection and personal financial stability, detailing his personal education and resulting change in mentality as blue crab populations declined and affected his earnings as a commercial crabber. He goes on to talk about the dangers of the increase in fresh water estuary salinity and water temperature, including an increase in parasites, cannibalistic behavior, and subsequent blue crab population decrease.

Keywords: Chesapeake Bay fishing; Coastal Resources Division; Jeffrey Scott; Satilla River; University of Georgia Marine Extension Service; blue crab extinction; coastal wetland quality; commercial fishing; crustacean parasites; denoflagellate; environmental protection; estuary protection; estuary salinity; estuary water quality; hematodenium; marshland protection; water quality

00:22:00 - Altamaha Riverkeeper Organization formation in 1999

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Partial Transcript: Or were you at the point of wanting to retire anyway?

Segment Synopsis: Holland talks on his involvement in the environmental movement to question this decline in river and wetland water quality. He lists the involved members of the effort, and describes a "gender divide" in the group of predominantly female activists.

Keywords: Altamaha River; Altamaha Riverkeeper Organization; Carolyn Hodges; Christi Lambert; Deborah Shepard; Georgia Conservancy; Janisse Ray; environmental activism; estuary quality; flathead catfish; invasive species; local environmental organizations; watershed pollution; wetland quality

00:29:23 - Pollution of Okefenokee River in Lumber City by AMNA Corporation

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Partial Transcript: There was this old man from Lumber City, was there, and Robert D. Whitt and I, which was one of my partners in all of this, Robert had knowledge-- we'll talk about him in a minute.

Segment Synopsis: Holland talks about the AMNA Corporation and its subsequent pollution of the Okefenokee River with steel cleaning chemical runoff.

Keywords: AMNA Corp; Architectural Metals North America; Environmental Protection Division; chemical pollution; environmental fines; environmental law; river pollution; watershed pollution

00:32:25 - The Altamaha Riverkeeper organization and its influence

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Partial Transcript: Well, going back, so you began to make contact with people on some environmental issues around and you had seen your own issues, problems with the crabs, so, were you in on the formation of the Altamaha Riverkeeper?

Segment Synopsis: Holland explains the inception of the Altamaha Riverkeeper organization, its influence on the actions of companies interacting with the river basin, and the history of lawsuits in which the Altamaha Riverkeeper organization was involved. He further discusses his personal responsibilities and accomplishments as the Altamaha Riverkeeper, including public outreach and river observation.

Keywords: Altamaha River watershed; Altamaha Riverkeeper; Environmental Protection Division; Federal Wildlife Agencies; Federal Wildlife Resources; environmental law; environmental lawsuits; environmental protection; estuaries; estuary management; farmland irrigation; irrigation; irrigation controversies; irrigation problems; river basin management; riverkeeping; salt marshes; sewage management; soil conservation; water conservation; water management; water quality; wetland management; wetlands; wildlife issues

00:46:30 - Crabbing industry and "tree hugger" environmentalists

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Partial Transcript: And your fellow crabbers and fishermen, what did they think of your new line of work?

Segment Synopsis: Holland discusses the feelings of his former crabbing industry fishermen concerning his becoming the Altamaha Riverkeeper, and the relationship between commercial fishing and environmental activism.

Keywords: commercial fishing; crab populations; crabbing industry; environmental issues; environmental protection; fish conservation; fish populations; shrimp fishermen; sport fishermen

00:48:38 - Stream and marsh buffer regulation in Glynn County

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Partial Transcript: Can we branch off a little bit to, I'd like to know sort of what it was like, you being a citizen of Brunswick during the issues with "Hercules" and "LCP"?

Segment Synopsis: Holland talks on his experience as a member of the Brunswick community during the cleanup of the "Hercules, Inc." and "LCP" chemical company superfund sites. He further discusses the "problems with" water regulation in Glynn County, including stream and marsh buffers decisions.

Keywords: 25-foot buffer; American Rivers; Clean Water Act; Coastal Resources Division; Environmental Protection Division; Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Georgia River Network; Glynn County, GA; Tired Creek; U.S. Army Corps of Engineer; environmental regulation; local issuing authority; marsh buffer; rested vegetation; stream bank; stream buffer; water regulation

00:55:18 - Settler's Bluff built on filled marshland in Darien, Ga.

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk about the state and the coastal "Resources Division," down here where they issue the permits for these marshes and what's going on around them.

Segment Synopsis: Holland discusses an instance of a public marina being placed on filled marshland in Darien, Georgia, in complete opposition to the Georgia "Marshland Protection Act" of 1970.

Keywords: Darien County, GA; Georgia's Coastal Resource Division; Marshland Protection Act; Settler's Bluff; filled marshlands

00:57:05 - Cooperative marine biologists and scientists

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Partial Transcript: I kind of wanted to go back to something you said earlier, about how, when you were the Riverkeeper, you had a lot of help from scientists?

Segment Synopsis: Holland talks about the help he received from marine biologists and scientists, who offered their assistance for decisions in which Holland was involved as a "Riverkeeper." Some of these scientists include Deborah A. Bronk, a marine biologist at the University of Georgia, and Susan Shipman, Chief of Marine Fisheries at the Coastal Resource Division.

Keywords: Altamaha Riverkeeper; Deborah A. Bronk; Georgia Coastal Resources Division; Susan Shipman; environmental protection; riverkeeping

01:02:29 - On "retirement" and his continuing action as a concerned citizen

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Partial Transcript: Well, it sounds like you ended your working career really on a high note, in terms of doing a very worthwhile, being involved in a worthwhile cause.

Segment Synopsis: Holland talks about his actions as a concerned citizen, continuing to document the river basin and file citizen complaints, emphasizing that he will never quit protecting salt marshes.

Keywords: buffer protection; environmental protection; estuaries; marshland buffers; marshlands; river buffers; river protection; salt marsh buffers; salt marsh protection; salt marshes; water protection

01:04:38 - Ribbed mussels and sediment runoff contamination of marshes

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Partial Transcript: I'll tell you what I did as the "Riverkeeper." They, they kept telling me about sediment sand from stormwater runoff in developments and what have you, and how it impacted, what the impacts were, to marshes.

Segment Synopsis: Holland discusses his hands-on action as "Riverkeeper" to observe whether sand sediment affected saltwater marshland. He talks about discovering the influence of sediment and "muddy water" on ribbed mussels (Geukensia demissa).

Keywords: Geukensia demissa; ecology; marine biology; marine life protection; marine wildlife protection; ribbed mussels; saltwater marshland; sediment; sediment runoff; soil sediment; storm water runoff; watershed pollution; wildlife protection

01:08:26 - Interview Conclusion

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Partial Transcript: I really appreciate your sharing your story with us today.