In Loving Memory

Maggy Reno Hurchalla


Maggy’s impact on Florida’s conservation movement cannot be overstated. She’s the reason developers can’t fill in wetlands in Martin County, and the reason I-95 bends away from Stuart. During her 20 years as a Martin County commissioner, she helped craft development rules that made the community a leader in the state for environmental preservation. Her advocacy was fueled by a deep love for Florida’s wilderness. She kayaked as often as she could, and spoke about the Everglades to anyone who would listen.

Those of us who had the honor of joining Maggy for a paddle gained a new appreciation for the magic of mangrove tunnels, and we were often treated to a recitation of poetry. She was inspiringly irreverent, and she left a mark on our community that will not be forgotten.

Maggy worked as an advocate until her final days. She sat on Friends of the Everglades Policy & Science Committee, always offering insightful context. She was an eternal optimist, and a generous heart. Maggy also served five terms as County Commissioner in Martin County, Florida, where she was a driving force behind the creation of the county’s highly regarded Comprehensive Growth Management Plan, which is arguably the best in the state for its environmental protections. Her efforts are reflected today in the low-density model Martin County enjoys, unique among its neighbors in South Florida. Maggy served on numerous commissions and committees at the regional and state level including Governor Askew’s Blue Ribbon Transportation Committee, the State Comprehensive Plan Committee, Governor Chiles’ Growth Management Task Force, and was Chairperson of the original Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council.

Among the many awards she received for defending our natural resources are the Martin County Conservation Alliance lifetime award, the Audubon of the Everglades Conservation Award, Florida Association of Environmental Regulators-Environmentalist of the Year 1994, the Everglades Coalition “George Barley Conservationist of the Year Award” 2002, the 2003 National Wetlands Award for Volunteer Leadership, the Everglades Coalition Hall of Fame Award, and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Defender of the Everglades Award. Her work on wetlands conservation in Florida earned her national recognition as an expert on Florida’s wetlands. She continued to serve on advisory councils such as the Governor’s Commission for a Sustainable South Florida even after leaving office and remained involved in the battle for Everglades restoration until her death in 2022.

Maggy led an incredible life of adventure outside of her advocacy for the Everglades, frequently traveling and kayaking the waters she worked so hard to protect. Most of all, Maggy brought people together around one very central idea, that we are all connected by water.

Robert (Rob) Edwin Bennetts


Rob Bennetts is most well known for his contribution to understanding the ecology and conservation of the endangered Florida Snail Kite. Although he left Florida in 2003, his influence is recognized 20 years later based on his identifying and quantifying the interconnectedness between Snail Kites, apple snails, wetland plant communities, and hydrology. Protocols for monitoring Snail Kites, and ideas on how to monitor and conduct research on kites and snails, are still being applied in 2023.

Rob started working on Snail Kites in 1986, and was subsequently first author on a comprehensive report on Snail Kite nesting in the Everglades (Bennetts, Collopy, and Beissinger 1988). At that point in his career he had earned his Bachelor's degree from the University of Montana. In that 1988 report, Rob (again, with a Bachelor's degree) put in writing several hypotheses about what influenced Snail Kite foraging success and reproduction, many of which resulted in funded grants in the 1990s and 2000s that created empirical data that supported his ideas from the 1980s. He left Florida and began work on his Master’s degree in 1988 at Colorado State University (thesis advisor Dr. Gary White); this is where he began his long career emphasis on quantitative aspects of wildlife movements and demography and habitat quality assessment.

Rob returned to Florida in 1991 to pursue a PhD at the University of Florida with Dr. Wiley Kitchens as his advisor. They designed and executed one of the largest projects, in terms of scale and scope, on a single species in Florida. The radio-tracking data obtained revealed novel information on the extensive movements, exploratory behavior, and survival patterns of Snail Kites, and created a new perspective on the scale at which kites successfully navigate wetlands spread out over 8,000 square miles. Rob et al. produced 22 published manuscripts on kites, three book chapters, and five manuscripts on snails, on which he was first author or co-author. Rob was generous in his sharing of data to include first-authorship for students and field staff as he mentored their careers.

As great an influence as Dr. Bennetts had on our understanding of Snail Kites in Florida, he had just as much influence, if not more so, once he left Florida to lead, as a quantitative ecologist, monitoring and adaptive management programs for the National Park Service out west. He worked at Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, but in the last 10 years of his career he cherished his work on lesser known parks such as Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, Fort Union National Monument, Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site, and Washita Battlefield National Historic Site.

Gene Duncan


Cpt. Truman Eugene “Gene” Duncan passed on to his final adventure on November 22nd, 2022 after a battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife, mother, two sisters, son, two grandsons, and his dog. Gene was a kind and selfless man, whose contributions to the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida will not be forgotten.

Originally from Kentucky, Gene graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Geology from Morehead State University and a Master of Science in Geology from Eastern Kentucky University, before being commissioned in the U.S. Army and credentialed as a Counter-Intelligence and Human Intelligence Officer. He graduated Basic and Advanced Military Intelligence School and the Army’s Helicopter Flight School. Gene first entered the Tribe’s employ in August of 1988, after a career in the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, Battalion S-2 and the 11th Aviation Group, VII Corps.

Gene first began working in the Tribe’s Real Estate Services (now the Land Resources Department) and was passionate about geology and hydrology, motorcycles, small arms, and the protection of the Everglades ecosystem. In 2008, while working for the Tribe, Gene also received a commission as a Merchant Marine Officer. Observing the poor water quality on the reservation, Gene advocated for the creation of the Tribe’s Water Resources Department and became the inaugural Director of the same.

As the Tribe’s first Water Resources Director, Gene successfully advocated for Tribal control of water quality regulation on Miccosukee lands and helped author the comprehensive Miccosukee Environmental Protection Code. He acted as the Tribe’s liaison to state and federal environmental agencies. In that capacity, Gene served on many advisory committees including the Florida Water Resources Advisory Committee and the federal Everglades Ecosystem Restoration Task Force and Working Group and testified in state and federal court as an expert witness for many environmental lawsuits.

Gene was known for never doing anything halfway, and always taking the time to mentor those around him and share his knowledge. Whether responding to the aftermath of a hurricane or wishing an employee a happy birthday, Gene would be sure to check in on his coworkers. In the office and out, he was always the Director. His life will be remembered by the Tribe and his coworkers as a monument to servant leadership, Tribal sovereignty, and the protection of the Everglades.