It was a 1933 letter from Jean Harper to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt which lead to the protection of the Okefenokee Swamp as a National Wildlife Refuge. The efforts and studies of Harper and her husband, Francis, have preserved a treasure for generations:
Dear Mr. Roosevelt: there is a matter that needs your immediate attention – the preservation of the Okefinokee Swamp. Perhaps you may recall that a few years ago, Francis sent you some of his reprints on the swamp. For twenty odd years naturalist and nature-lovers have been working for the preservation of this marvelous wilderness; unique in its nature not only in this country, but in the world. The character of its fauna, its flora, and its human life is unsurpassed.
Two years ago the Senate Committee on Wild Life Resources visited the Okefinokee and submitted the report recommending its purchase as a national wild-life refuge. But because of the depression, nothing further has been done.
We now learn of the project to put a ship canal through the swamp. You will know what this would mean to the beauty of the area to the wild life. The destruction that would thus be brought on is unthinkable. Our hope lies in you to stop the project before it goes farther, and spend the money in the purchase of the swamp for a reservation, where beauty and scientific interest may be preserved for all time.
Sincerely, Jean Sherwood Harper