Development takes precedence over preservation once again, this time in Pasco County where the commissioners have allowed a road to be built through a nature preserve. Trees have been cut and wetlands destroyed and progress continues even though Sierra Club has filed a lawsuit.
As environmentalists, we know all too well that the authorities governing our land use routinely totally ignore any type of environmental protection when it comes to development or money. Water districts dole out the permits for construction in wetlands, water withdrawals or just about anything else, even though this may violate the regulations and rules which are in the statutes. Outstanding Waterway, Cautionary Area, below Minimum flows, and other protections designated by the state are useless words and are disregarded by the very agencies that grant them. This is Pasco, it be anywhere in Florida.
It’s the Florida Way.
Read the entire article here at this link to WMNF.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum
Pasco County is continuing with a road extension through a nature preserve despite a lawsuit by the Sierra Club; the environmental group is trying to protect the Serenova Preserve from the construction of an extension of Ridge Road.Heidi Mehaffey is an attorney representing the Sierra Club. She’s an associate attorney with Robert N. Hartsell, P.A. and specializes in environmental law.
“The Serenova Preserve is part of the Starkey Wilderness Preserve and that spans about 6,000 acres through different counties. Pasco County is one of them.
“It’s one of the most ecologically beneficial areas in that part of Florida. It hosts a variety of endangered and threatened wildlife such as the Eastern indigo snake and the gopher tortoise.
“Pasco County has been in discussions with the Army Corps of Engineers for about 20 years-plus, attempting to build what is deemed the Ridge Road extension, which is a roadway. It’s about 8.6 miles that will traverse through a portion of the Serenova Preserve, clearing the wetlands there, constructing roadways and making a pathway through the Preserve which in our opinion is not needed and can cause extreme environmental damage.”
You have a lawsuit. What’s the status of that lawsuit?
“We filed a lawsuit on Feb. 6 of this year, challenging the Army Corps of Engineers permit that was issued to Pasco County on Dec. 20 of 2019, which is days before Christmas.
“We had to spend about a week trying to get our hands on all of the permit documents to be able to review. We got those documents about Dec. 27 of 2019 and diligently reviewed the decisional documents such as the environmental assessment, the biological assessment, the biological opinion and came to the conclusion that there were severe deficiencies under federal environmental laws that supported bringing a lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers.”
Is there anything else that people should know about what the next steps are when it comes to Seranova Preserve?
“At this point in time, all of Florida is in a stay-at-home. It’s important to stay connected with our nature while we’re going through this pandemic. So recognizing that there are environmentally damaging actions happening by the commissioners in your county, in Pasco County, reaching out to them and imploring them to act prudently in this time and also to remember that each citizen does have a voice.
“The commissioners are there to represent the citizens not just themselves or corporations or developers that are going to benefit from this project as well.
“Sierra Club and also Dan Rametta, who is another plaintiff in the case, are fighting hard for the right to be able to continue to enjoy the Serenova Preserve not only for themselves in the future but for generations to come….”