Maggy Hurchalla, formidable Florida environmentalist, dies at 81

Her most public environmental fight began in 2013, when Lake Point Restoration, a company with a limestone mining operation in Martin Cou...


Her most public environmental fight began in 2013, when Lake Point Restoration, a company with a limestone mining operation in Martin County, sued her for interference with a contract. She had sent emails urging county commissioners to back out of a deal with Lake Point that she said would destroy wetlands and cause further damage.

In court, Ms Hurchalla argued that she had exercised her First Amendment rights. But Lake Point countered that it mischarged the commissioners and made false claims that cost the company money. Lake Point offered to drop the case if it publicly apologized. She refused.

In 2018, a jury found against Ms Hurchalla – and decided she should pay Lake Point $4.4 million in damages. She had no money. Sheriff’s deputies seized two kayaks and a 2004 Toyota Camry that belonged to her sister, before Lake Point returned them. Last year, the US Supreme Court denied Ms Hurchalla’s request to hear her appeal in the case.

“I’m not sorry at all that I spent the last seven years fighting” for the First Amendment, she said in an email to The New York Times following the High Court ruling. “In the meantime, I will go kayaking and I will continue to speak my mind.”

Margaret Sloan Reno grew up the third of four children on a farm in rural Miami-Dade County on the edge of the Everglades, with peacocks, raccoons and donkeys. The Miami Herald paid to hook up the property to a phone line so her father, Henry Olaf Reno, a police reporter, could call law enforcement every morning, looking for a scoop.

He was tickled when his wife, Jane Wood Reno, a feature writer for rival Miami News, beat him on a story. Mrs. Wood Reno, a naturalist, built most of the farm by hand, although she had no building experience.

At Swarthmore College, Maggy studied psychology and met Jim Hurchalla, an engineer. In 1968, they moved to the Rocky Point neighborhood of Stuart and built a house on a $5,000 lot on the banks of the Indian River.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Maggy Hurchalla, formidable Florida environmentalist, dies at 81
Maggy Hurchalla, formidable Florida environmentalist, dies at 81
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