When territorial Governor Andrew Jackson formed our county and named it for himself in 1822 we had an agricultural economy. When we became a state in 1840 many of the great plantations between Graceville and Monticello were already in existence. Their owners became leaders in the new government and they assured we would get our share (or more) of government largess.
Aviation was added in 1953 by the reactivation of the WW II airbase (Gov't). When Graham Aviation left in 1961 we began an active and successful search for industry. This now provides our third source of income.
We became a part of Florida's largest industry in 1997 with the establishment of the Tourist Development Council. We can receive a great deal of income from this, not from the bed tax, but from the wise expenditure of the tax. This is advertising outside the county so more people will know what we have and will come to see our natural assets.
On Wednesday, August 26th, I was one of about 25 people from Jackson County who went to Bristol to attend a daylong seminar on Eco-tourism. This was a high caliber, professional presentation. We learned that this is about people who have a special interest in ecology. These are nature lovers. It includes bird watchers, lovers of the forest, the soils, the lay of the land, the wildlife, and the bogs, ponds, lakes and streams. I'm sure we all realize we are blessed with these things.
During the day, the question arose, "Should hunters and fishermen be included in this group?" Most people said yes. I personally say yes. I am not a hunter or fisherman, but I really enjoy nature. One of my friends who fishes told me he did not fish just to catch fish, but to get out and enjoy nature.
Another of my friends, now deceased, took me to Scott's Ferry three times to see the great virgin cypress trees there. On our last trip we measured some of them. The largest we found had a circumference of 21ft. 7 inches. We calculated its age to be 1,929 years, so it sprouted about A.D. 80, around 47 years after Christ was crucified. I think these trees are more impressive than their kinsmen, the Sequoias. It is awesome to see them and realize we have something that old living so near to us.
This seminar was not held for people like me, it was held for the TDC's of the six counties that abut the Apalachicola River. I'm very thankful two members of the TDC and three county commissioners were in our group. So what can we do to earn more from tourists? As individuals, probably not much. But I hope the above mentioned five people will do all they can to persuade their peers to tell the world what we have.
I hope lots of bird watchers will come here and spend lots of time and money trying to see the beautiful, elusive, and rare Northern Parula Warbler which resides in our area. This one was photographed in Greenwood. It is smaller than a chickadee.