Seminole County Libertarian Mike Barr Passed Away 2-9-2012
By Stephen Hudak, Orlando Sentinel
6:05 p.m. EST, February 9, 2012
“Mike Barr had standing engagements to talk trash the first and fourth Saturday of every month.
The founder of Keep Seminole Beautiful, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the environment of his county, was usually on the Wekiva River those days with a net and garbage bag, teaching volunteers about the debris in the water.
“He was all about the environment. It was so important to him,” said his daughter, Carolyn Barr, 20.
Her father, 64, who died Wednesday at home six weeks after a stroke, probably fished out more than a ton of litter from the river over the last several years with the help of groups as diverse as the Girl Scouts and Chamber of Commerce. He also headed efforts to rid Big Tree Park in Longwood of air potatoes and other invasive plants.
But Barr, an unusual mix of Libertarian and environmentalist, did much more than gather trash and yank non-native plants. He melded effective coalitions to fight for Central Florida’s most precious natural spaces.”
The Orlando Sentinel, like most of society, fails to understand what property rights are, and how libertarian capitalist beliefs in property rights would REDUCE pollution. Simply put if there was no third party, usually the federal government, protecting polluters by shielding them with regulations, affected parties harmed by pollution could go after polluters directly in a court of law and recover damages. This fundamental right to private property is understood to mean the right to not have third parties pollute that private property, and is a fundamental understanding of all Libertarians, but apparently beyond the comprehension of the Orlando Sentinel. Simply enforcing property rights would REDUCE pollution, something Mr. Barr understood very well.
“From the Florida Keys to Central Florida to the Panhandle, Mike was a passionate advocate for protecting those things and places that make Florida unique,” said Steve Barnes, a former supervisor of the Seminole County Soil and Water Conservation District. “Mike had a very special ability to work across party lines to educate, inspire and motivate people to protect our water, our wildlife, our natural areas.”
Barr also served in the early 2000s on the conservation district board, an elected body that serves as a steward of the county’s natural resources. He resigned from the board in 2007 and formed Keep Seminole Beautiful, which coordinates anti-litter projects, educational programs and recycling efforts.
During river cleanups, he generally included educational components for volunteers, often pointing out that much of the garbage littering the river came from highways and ditches, not canoe and kayak paddlers.
“He wanted people to take care of the Earth,” said Becky Longfellow, administrator of Keep Seminole Beautiful, which is composed of business leaders, environmental activists, representatives of civic organizations and elected officials.
Michelle Thatcher, national director of the U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce, said Barr believed he had to stand up for birds, bears and trees and other flora and fauna because they could not advocate for themselves.
“He put his time, resources and energy into making sure others appreciated and understood the value [nature and wildlife] had in our community as a whole,” she said. “Whether it be a neighborhood green space in Sanford, Big Tree Park in Longwood or vast areas of natural land, Mike was there to promote the importance of each one.”
A native of Chicago, Barr was married for 34 years to Ellen Moran Barr. They lived in Texas; the Florida Keys, where he worked as a deckhand for a dive company and in real estate; and, since 1996, in unincorporated Seminole. He owned the Sanford Book Shoppe until it closed in 2005.
Ellen Barr said he became a vegetarian after suffering a heart attack about 12 years ago. “He kind of got a new lease on life, and it changed him.”
Barr is also survived by a grandson. Collison Family Funeral Home & Crematory, Winter Park, is in charge of arrangements.”
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