Big Cypress National Preserve "Credit for A Good Job"

 Calvin Stone's "Calusa" Camp

Calvin R. Stone, Sportsman, Conservationist, One of the Founders of the Everglades Conservation and Sportsman's Club, Author of "Forty Years In The Everglades" and one of the instrumental people in lobbying for the legislation forming the Big Cypress Nation Preserve.Calvin Stone's Book

In Calvin Stone's book is a chapter titled "Calusa Camp". In this chapter he describes how he and his family built this camp, starting at the end of the 1950's. Those of us that have camps know the effort it takes to build a camp structure in the middle of the swamp, far from any roads. From Calvin's book "Every time I went hunting I would haul some piece of equipment or a sack of supplies on my buggy. We hauled everything from lumber, bags of cement and aluminum roofing to stoves and refrigerators. We hauled material when it was hot and rainy and when it was cold and dry. I lost count of the number of trips. In addition, constructing the camp became quite a family affair. My wife Mary and our two daughters Harriett and Sandra and later the girls husbands worked as hard as I did on the camp." Calvin continues, " Since those first days there, we have cleared three acres, planted grass, fruit trees that grow limes, grapefruit, oranges, avocados, kumquats and mangoes. We have a little garden where we grow vegetables. The rest of the land is in its natural state." Calvin's final words about his camp, "All in all, Calusa Camp is almost like a little Garden of Eden.

Calvin, in the final years of his life, sold the camp to the Big Cypress National Preserve. The intention was that it would be used as an out back camp for the preserves uses.

Calvin's Honeymoon CabinThis is how the Big Cypress National Preserve custodianship looks. One of the first things the BCNP personnel did was cut down all of Calvin's fruit trees, so they could land their helicopter on the property. Recently they have cleaned up the property and it now looks like someone values it. It is my understanding that they brought out a conservation corp., which are kids with an interest in conservation. These kids assisted with the cleanup of Camp Calusa. They have cleared out all of the vegetation and have created a fire break around the camp. They have leveled the ground that was rooted up by wild hogs and the grounds look in good shape. The pile of junk that remained on the property has been removed. I understand they put it in a sling and used the BCNP helicopter to carry out the junk.  The building shown in the picture to the left, is Calvin's "Honeymoon Quarters", as he called it. The main sleeping quarters, was set up as a bunking area, able to sleep many people. In his later years Calvin used the "Honeymoon Quarters", for his wife and himself for a little privacy from the guests. These guests included, Florida's governor and other politicians, federal and state biologists, game commission people, family, friends and other sportsmen. Meetings were held at this camp to discuss the forming of the BCNP and management issues concerning it.

Calvin's Main Sleeping Quarters

The picture to the right is Calvin's main sleeping quarters. This was the only sleeping quarters for most of the years of Calusa Camp. As you can see, the yard has been cleared. It has been cleared back, probably further then it ever was when Calvin owned it. As a tax payer, I appreciate the BCNP doing this maintenance to protect the value of the tax dollars spent to purchase this facility. If you would visit this camp now you would see the doors locked, wood shutters locked on the windows, everything organized.

Calvin's Kitchen and Dinning BuildingThe Picture to the left is Calvin's kitchen and dining building. As the picture shows, the shoulder high weeds that would have brought a wild fire right up to the structure, have been cleared. The picture was taken from the area that used to contain the fruit trees. This is a good sign that the BCNP will take care of this property. The cabins roofs and walls could use a good coat of paint, lets hope that is the next improvement that will be seen at Camp Calusa. The BCNP fiscal year 2001 budget totals $5,245,000, I hope a few dollars of it can could be spent on painting this BCNP property?


Click here to see one more picture of Camp Calusa.                                                                                    To see previous story Click Here

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