Maggy Hurchalla (born December 11, 1940) is an American environmental activist from Florida. Formerly a Martin County, Florida county commissioner, she was involved in a legal battle over her interference with a mining company, Lake Point. She was ordered to pay Lake Point a settlement of US$4,391,708 in 2018. That ruling was upheld by the appeal court in June 2019.
Early life and education
Hurchalla's family moved to Miami, Florida in 1920. She was born in Coral Gables, Florida, on December 11, 1940. Her mother Jane Wood Reno and her father Henry Olaf Reno were both journalists who wrote for the Miami Herald. Hurchalla was the third of four children. Her elder sister is Janet Reno, who was Attorney General of the United States during the Bill Clinton administration. Hurchalla graduated from Coral Gables High School and then attended Swarthmore College, from which she graduated in 1962.
Hurchalla became involved in environmental activism after 650 acres (2.6 km2) of Hutchinson Island was sold to a developer in 1972 instead of being conserved. In 1974, Hurchalla became a county commissioner of Martin County, Florida, serving in this role until 1994, when she was defeated by Elmira Gainey. She was the county's first female county commissioner.
Known for her strong environmentalist views, she served on the state board of the Nature Conservancy and on the Governor's Commission for a Sustainable South Florida. When Hurchalla learned that the company Lake Point, owned by George Lindemann Jr., was planning on developing a rock mining site in Martin County, she wrote twenty-three emails to county commissioners expressing her objections to the plans based on environmental concerns. Lake Point made deals with South Florida Water Management District in 2008 and Martin County in 2009 for water storage, but both deals were canceled in 2012. Lake Point said that Hurchalla was the reason the contracts were canceled and sued her in 2013 for tortious interference. In February 2018, the trial took place and was decided in favor of Lake Point. Hurchalla was ordered to pay Lake Point US$4,391,708. In July 2018, her car and two of her kayaks were seized by court order, though Lake Point later returned them. Hurchalla appealed the decision, but it was upheld by the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal in June 2019.
Awards and honors
In 2002, she was named the Everglades Coalition's Conservationist of the Year. In 2003 she won a National Wetlands Award from the Environmental Law Institute for volunteer leadership. In 2019 she gave the keynote address at the 50th anniversary meeting of the Friends of the Everglades.
- Mazzei, Patricia (September 8, 2019). "The Florida Activist Is 78. The Legal Judgment Against Her Is $4 Million". The New York Times. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
- "ELI National Wetlands Awards: Maggie Hurchalla". Environmental Law Institute. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
- Michael Browning, Janet Reno: Her sister remembers their childhood in South Florida, Palm Beach Post (November 7, 2016).
- Tuckwood, Jan; Kleinberg, Eliot (2000). Our century: featuring the Palm Beach Post 100 : the people who changed the way we live. West Palm Beach, FL; New York: Palm Beach Post ; Mega-Books/Progressive Pub. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-9657200-3-8.
- Johnson, K. Norman; Swanson, Frederick; Herring, Margaret; Greene, Sarah, eds. (1999). Bioregional Assessments: Science at the Crossroads of Management and Policy. Island Press. p. 380. ISBN 9781610913867.
- Renner, Rebecca (October 25, 2018). "Janet Reno's Sister Owes a Florida Developer $4 Million. She Has Zero Intention of Paying". Medium. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
- Jose Lambiet, Environmentalist ordered to pay $4.4 million to developer, Miami Herald (February 14, 2018).
- Melissa E. Holsman, Maggy Hurchalla loses Lake Point appeal related to $4.4 million judgment against her, Treasure Coast Newspapers (June 20, 2019).
- "Maggy Hurchalla's Keynote Address at Friends of the Everglades' 50th Anniversary celebration!". Friends of the Everglades. April 23, 2019. Retrieved September 8, 2019.