McAvoy speaks at Audubon meeting

(Danika J. Hopper) Steve Buczynski (right), President of the Hendry Glades Audubon Society, welcomes Gene McAvoy (left), County Extension Director.

Gene McAvoy was this month’s guest speaker at the Hendry-Glades Audubon meeting. McAvoy is the County Extension Director for the Hendry County Extension Office. As a Master Naturalist Instructor, and birdwatcher for over 50 years, it is said that McAvoy can identify any and every animal or plant that can be found in South Florida by sight. Having lived and worked in West and South Africa, Latin America, and Jamaica, he then relocated to Florida in 1989. McAvoy currently lives in Labelle, on a large ranch, with his wife Donna, and a variety of livestock.

McAvoy spoke briefly about the history of the everglades before going into the details of the many constraints that exist when it comes to moving water south, from Lake Okeechobee. He mentioned that in 1845, when Florida became a state, the Greater Everglades consisted of seven million acres. The area now measures less than three million acres. He also spoke of the many changes that were made to the area during an extreme drought, resulting in many problems as rainfall returned to normal, and has now even increased by record numbers. In 1960, Florida’s population was 4 million, it has grown to 21 million people in 2019. These drastic changes are only some of the reasons Florida is experiencing challenges with water management.

McAvoy also explained that, some water can and will be sent south, but the current water management system has many mechanical constraints, legal limitations, hydrologic challenges, and concerns about ecological impact. The Modified Water Delivery Project, Restoration Strategies plan, and the Central Everglades Planning Project are several avenues that, when built, will help address some of the current challenges. However, the constraints that are present during “wet years” require development of new, innovative strategies in order to overcome the various constraints.

If you are interested in viewing this lecture in its entirety, it is posted as a video and is available for public viewing in the Hendry Glades Audubon Society Facebook Group.

The next meeting will be February 11, with guest speaker Cherie Pittillo. She will be presenting on the topic of “Pink Birds: Flamingos and Spoonbills.” Contact the HGAS for more info: Steve Buczynski or Margaret England 863-517-0202 visit

Danika can be reached at

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