Interview with James Holland, September 24, 2013

Collection: Georgia Environmental Oral History Project

Dublin Core


James Holland is the retired Altamaha Riverkeeper. Holland grew up in Cochran, Georgia, where he first began hunting and fishing. Holland enlisted in the armed forces and became a Marine at age 17. After his service he moved to Brunswick and worked in the food service profession.
In 1977 Holland became a commercial blue crab fisherman. Due to a dwindling crab population, in 1994 a group of crabbers banded together and got the Georgia Legislature to approve a Blue Crab Management Program limiting the number of crabbers and the number of crab traps that could be in the fishery. Holland continued to investigate the causes of the decline in the crab population by talking with scientists, biologists, professors, and fishermen about marine life and the environment in which they lived. He learned everything he could through personal research in the biology of fish, crab, and shrimp.In 1999, James Holland and others concerned about the health of the rivers formed the Altamaha Riverkeeper to address the statewide water quality problem. The organization works to restore and preserve the habitat, water, and flow of the Altamaha River from its headwaters in North Georgia to its terminus at the Atlantic Coast.
In this interview, James Holland discusses his early life, his service in the military, and moving to Brunswick in 1978. He talks about his commercial blue crab fishing operation and the evolution of the crabbing industry. Holland talks about how the declining crab population affected his personal finances and how this inspired him to become involved in environmental efforts. Holland discusses the increasing salinity of fresh waters and various diseases and organisms that affect the crab population.
Holland discusses the gender divide in the environmental movement and forming alliances with various organizations. He discusses the forming of the Altamaha Riverkeeper organization in 1998-99 and lawsuits filed by the organization. Holland discusses the role of the Riverkeeper and the work he did investigating reports in the field during his time as Riverkeeper. He talks about the State River Basin Management Plan and the Soil and Water Conservation Service.Holland also discusses the reputation of the Riverkeeper (and other environmental groups) among other fisherman. He talks about problems with local permit issuing authorities and possible corruption in government agencies. He talks about his relationship with scientists and various specific local environmental issues such as marsh buffers and fresh water impoundment on Little St. Simons Island.





Oral History Item Type Metadata


69 minutes


James Holland and Betsy Bean, “Interview with James Holland, September 24, 2013,” UGA Special Collections Libraries Oral Histories, accessed July 14, 2024,