Byline: Victor Hull REGIONAL REPORTER
Thomas Kibler didn't know Julie Morris when he joined her on the five-member Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission board in 1995. He just knew that she was a Southwest Florida environmentalist. And that was enough to worry Kibler, a cattle rancher and private property rights advocate.
After all, property rights supporters and environmentalists in Florida are usually on opposite sides of natural resource debates.
"I was expecting the worst," Kibler admitted.
But earlier this month, Kibler nominated Morris to help lead the commission through a critical transition - its first months as the newly constituted Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, created by the merger of the state's Game and Fresh Water Fish and Marine Fisheries agencies.
That a property rights proponent like Kibler could support a committed environmentalist to be the first chairwoman of the new agency's board …