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Florida Geological Survey - History

The Florida Geological Survey (FGS) is an office under Regulatory Programs, in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. In 2007, the FGS celebrated 100 years of service to the state. Established in 1907, the FGS is the oldest state agency functioning under both its original legislative establishing statute and its original title.

The origin of the FGS can be traced to 1852 when the office of State Engineer and Geologist was authorized by the legislature. The head of this new office was "General" Francis L. Dancy, a former militia officer and mayor of St. Augustine. Although Dancy lacked geological experience, his engineering training was useful since his responsibilities included draining lowland areas for agriculture. His post was abolished in 1855. In 1886 Governor E.A. Perry appointed Dr. John Kost, a medical doctor and amateur geologist, as State Geologist. His tenure was short; the legislature terminated his post in 1887.

The history of the present-day FGS began in 1907, when legislation created an autonomous permanent geological survey and an office of State Geologist. The law remained unchanged until 1933, when the FGS was placed under the newly-formed State Board of Conservation. A major reorganization of state government in 1971 placed the FGS in the new Department of Natural Resources. In 1993 the FGS became a bureau of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which was created by combining the Departments of Natural Resources and  Environmental Regulation.  In 2008, the FGS became an office under the Deputy Secretary for Land and Recreation within DEP and moved to Regulatory Programs in 2012.

Since 1907 there have been six State Geologists heading the FGS: Dr. Elias Sellards (1907-1919), Dr. Herman Gunter (1919-1958, nearly 52 years with the FGS), Dr. Robert O. Vernon (1958-1971), Charles W. "Bud" Hendry, Jr. (1971-1988), Dr. Walter Schmidt (1988-2009), and Dr. Jonathan Arthur (2009-present).

Click on the image below to view the timeline of highlights and significant historical events in the evolution of the Florida Geological Survey.

FGS Timeline
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Last updated: November 10, 2014