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Kaiser enjoying role as new CEPD commissioner

By Staff | Mar 27, 2009

Harry Kaiser is no stranger to the concept of beach erosion.

In fact, this Captivan has witnessed damaging island beach erosion as far back as the 1980s, before the first renourishment project ever even took place on Captiva.

His experience with the effects of erosion, in addition to his efforts towards beach preservation, are what made Kaiser a shoo in to fill the empty seat of the Captiva Erosion Prevention District’s Board of Commissioners.

“We’ve always been involved with the beaches. It takes us a lot of commitment but it’s for a worthy cause,” Kaiser said.

Kaiser and his family moved to Captiva in 1980, but had spent time on the island prior to making it their permanent home.

“When we came down here, we didn’t realize the amount of erosion at that time. People said, when we bought our house on the Gulf of Mexico, ‘Oh, there’s not much erosion, maybe a foot a year.’ And two months after we closed on our home, we came back down to fix it up and one of our five children came in to us, crying that they couldn’t get down to the beach. We found out that there was a four foot drop at the end of our property and that was our introduction to beach erosion,” Kaiser explained, noting that after that point, he and his family witnessed quite a bit of erosion on Captiva, including the frequent downing of Australian pines during regular storms and the massive washing-away of Captiva Drive.

But Kaiser isn’t just a bystander. He likes to do his part in restoring and protecting vulnerable beaches.

Recently, he endeavored to protect and preserve a strip of beach in New York.

“I’m a big beach lover and we actually purchased to preserve the beach of the Atlantic Beach Club on Long Island,” Kaiser said, noting that he and a few other members purchased the entire 14-acre stretch of oceanfront property of the Atlantic Beach Club solely for the purpose of preserving the area.

Kaiser has always had a love for all things environmental and beach-related, but he’s also an avid ski enthusiast, a love that helped him throughout his career as a successful publisher.

“I was in the service and I came out of the service with a wife and a new baby and looked for a job and ended up in the ski field,” Kaiser said, noting that after completing military service during the Korean War, he got a job at Ski Magazine.

Kaiser retired in 1997 from his positions as publisher and president of Times Mirror and publisher of Ski magazine, Skiing Magazine, Trans World Snowboarding Magazine and various other publications.

Prior to that, Kaiser was publisher and Vice President of CBS, publisher for Ziff Davis Publishing Company and Vice President of Skiing Magazine and Skiing Trade News.

Kaiser has been involved in various ski organizations across the nation, including acting as chairman of the New York Committee for the U.S. Ski Team and being inducted into the Ski Hall of Fame.

In addition to his passion for skiing, Kaiser is also profoundly dedicated to the protection of the environment, water quality, sand and beaches, all traits

Kaiser and his wife Carolyn have been married since 1955 and have five children and 10 grandchildren. They have a second home in Rockville Centre, N.Y. but spend most of their time on Captiva.

“Captiva, in my opinion, is a very special place,” Kaiser said, adding that so far, he’s enjoyed his position on the CEPD board of commissioners.

“It’s not just one meeting a month. It’s a lot of work,” he said, noting that now that the CEPD’s beach renourishment process has come to an end, all eyes are on the restoration of Blind Pass, an event that Kaiser is looking forward to seeing come to fruition.

“It’s nice to see everyone working together on this [Blind Pass] project, because the first beach renourishment was in 1987 and prior to that, we had a number of people that really didn’t want the beach renoursihed,” he explained.

The CEPD board of commissioners meet the second Wednesday of every month in the Wakefield Room at ‘Tween Waters Inn at noon.