Wiping out wetlands

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wetland-habitatwetland-pixThe administration’s latest assault against our country is an executive order to gut wetland and endangered species protection.  What twisted mind equates making “America great again” with destroying our sensitive and environmentally important lands, as well as public lands, and the creatures that rely on them?

Even in our own backyard, the process seems to have begun posthaste and with no notification to nearby residents.  Off Lee Road in Winter Park (Orange County), heavy earth moving equipment showed up late last Friday afternoon and commenced to raze a wetland area between Calvery Church and a for-profit charter school, Pinecrest Creek Academy, which has been advertising “the promise of expansion” at their new location at 1100 Lee Road in Winter Park.

A woman who has lived in the neighborhood for over 30 years confronted the men with their equipment and asked what they were doing.  Turtles were being viciously killed and the habitat that marsh birds and other creatures have relied on for decades was being ripped apart and crushed under by the machines.  They claimed the property was classified a “retention pond,” owned by the state’s Department of Transportation, and they were “cleaning” it up.  They said they could be fined, otherwise.  It didn’t make sense to her.  Her father, along with others, had been involved decades ago with getting legal protection for the area, so the claims made by the men didn’t add up.  She called the Florida Environmental Protection Department, who backed up claims by the crew, and was told there was nothing they could do about it.  The late Friday afternoon site destruction left little time to verify the accuracy of claims from either party.  A map from the National Wetlands Inventory show a wetland area in the place where the bulldozing took place (screen-shot above).

It’s too late for this area as it has been wiped out, but, nevertheless, due diligence still needs to be done to find out if the area’s status had been changed to allow the destruction, if the change had been done legitimately and with proper notification, and if it was done with plans in place to benefit any of the surrounding businesses.  Perhaps we can learn from this tragedy and block it from happening in other areas, even if the administration has now declared war on our planet.wetland-habitat-destruction

 

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