Monday, August 10, 2009

DOF Damages Private Wetlands Property

It all began on a warm spring day in north eastern Florida. Friday April 24, 2009 to be exact. The Florida Division of Forestry (DOF) was starting construction of a fire line around the portion of our neighbor's property adjacent to our property. To make a long story short, the fire line was being constructed in wetlands, through a creek. The "protected" property is bordered on the East by acres of cleared land, on the South by a sixty-foot cleared easement with a road on it, on the North by largely cleared property, and on the West by my property (which is to say, my yard). We wondered why a fire line was needed here, why it would be built in wetlands, what damage might be done to the creek, and had other concerns as well. However, since it was the DOF doing the work, we assumed they were experts at it, knew what they were doing and how to do it, and would treat the area with the care and respect it deserves.

There are really several families, all related to each other that collectively own the properties to be firelined. We had spoken to one of them who was acting and speaking for the group.We asked to have the DOF come speak to us before beginning work to ensure that the property line was respected. We asked to have the fire line constructed away from the property line so as to preserve the roots of our trees. He said he would talk to them about it. We also reminded him that there is a creek back in those woods.

No one ever came to speak to us. The creek has been badly torn up - they got their very big bulldozers stuck in it so deep that mud was well over the dozer's treads. And the line was placed as close as possible to the property line. At one point, we saw that the dozer was on our property. I walked into the woods and personally talked to the operator telling him to stay off our property with his bulldozers. After that, they actually BULLDOZED OVER 200FEET OF FIRE LINE ON OUR PROPERTY AFTER BEING TOLD TO STAY OFF!!

The DOF as well as several other government agencies had previously determined that this area is wetlands. According to their own Best Management Practices (BMPs), the DOF should never have performed the work here in the manner they did; and they most certainly should have never BULLDOZED THE CREEK! Not to mention that they bulldozed over 200 feet of our property while miraculously leaving each and every property line marker standing untouched.

So far every organization, agency, and government office that is charged with the duty to oversee this type of situation, protect our vanishing wetlands, or uphold and enforce laws, ordinances, procedures, or anything else have been absolutely useless!

We hope that by posting this, we may bring to light the indifference, the disregard for the average, normal, working person and their property shown by the very government agencies who are supposed to protect us, our property, and protected/endangered environments.

In the near future, we will be posting video, public records documents, photos, and everything else we can that relates to this travesty. We will tell the entire story, with names, dates, places - all of it. And substantiate every word with proof.

Here are a few photos until we can get back with more.


Kenny said...

I sympathies with the destruction of your Wetlands that appears that federal and state regulatory agencies are allowing this to happen. However, don’t give up! Keep sending letters, e-mails and other communications. Tell your story on TV and talk radio. Let these government officials know that you now have a website/blog. Your new blog is great!

I have had good success in using the above techniques with environmental issues in northwest Florida. You only have rights when you exercise them.

Kenny Wilder
Nature and Wildlife Photographer
Florida Master Naturalist

Anonymous said...

This is terrible. It should never have happened. Who is protecting our property rights? Hoping you can get help.

Anonymous said...

Read your article with interest and so I thought I must write that person. I cannot believe that you are being harassed so much by these people who call themselves 'human beings' that's not what I would call them.
What do these people in our county, state government offices think they are doing? They certainly are not complying with the law in anyway.
I have found them to be very bad about taking up the issues, confronting them and not doing anything about them or what is the right thing to do.
These so-called "good citizens" need to step back and see 'how they would like it if it was happening to them', it shows they have no love for their neighbors, so to speak.
Continue to show others what is going on, on your property and to let others know there are some horrible, sick people still in this world and you have them near you and that it is time the law came in and stopped this disgusting attitude of these people.
These are wetlands you are talking of, and I can remember for a long time we have been told not to mess with them. That there was also fines, and also imprisonment for anyone seen or doing such. However I guess these people feel like they are above the law.
Keep up the good work and put these people in their place...jail!


watchdog1776 said...

Thanks Kenny and Anonymous X 2! Nice to know folks are already starting to see this and pay attention. Keep coming back to see the changes as I get more posted, and show everyone you know who needs an example how our government from the local entities all the way to Federal agencies ignores our rights!

Anonymous said...


I'm in shock after reading all of this.

It's a real shame that this is happening to you.

I stumbled across this during some searches for natural disasters (of all things) and it appears that you're living through your own disaster caused by the incompetence and subsequent cover up of some forestry workers.

This kind of thing makes me sick to my stomach.

Someone obviously made a horrible mistake and has done a great job of trying to cover it up at your expense. Pitiful to say the least.

I have some personal friends in the DOF that will hear about this, along with several major newspapers in the state.

If the situation were reversed and it was them coming after you for the same offense, we can all guess how that would end up. Not good for you.

It should be "not good for them".

If we can't rely on the "experts" in charge, to do the right thing, we have nothing. Might as well move to Iran or North Korea where it's expected that the government will be corrupt and without regard for it's citizens. Not here in the USA.

Whomever was in charge of that little project should be summarily sacked. Along with those that do the sacking. They're equally as responsible for putting such a moron in charge to begin with.

In this case the shit should flow directly uphill until it lands on the plate of someone capable of making it right.


watchdog1776 said...

Thanks for your response Anonymous.

It really is shocking, shameful, and sickening. This is a very unsettling example of the type of representation we all have when we need government institutions and agencies to stand up for us. I am truly sad to say that this does not seem to be an isolated instance either. From public documents I've seen on the internet, it may actually be the norm.

If most of us, Mr. and Mrs. General Public, mis-performed our duties in like manner we would justifiably be fired. In the case of the DEP SJRWMD and FDOF, doing their job seems to mean they can destroy private property while trespassing and do it with impunity. Even though there is plenty of documentation that this was done in bona fide wetlands - even their own documents say it is!

I can't help thinking that if unlimited funds were available to pursue legal remedies, they would take a closer look at their actions. Perhaps there are so many permits to consider for subdivisions and shopping centers being built in wetlands that they simply have no time or interest for the problems at my property. They would like for us to simply go away and take this issue with us. But, WE WILL NOT GO AWAY!

With your help and the help of others like you, we intend to make this very public. These agencies can ignore the problem if they choose to. They can tell us there is no damage, we have no rights, they did nothing wrong, the area isn't wetlands, etc, etc, etc, ad nauseam, and even ignore us. But they do so at their own risk.

We find their stance unconscionable. So far, no one will put anything in writing - imagine that! But, we have quite a lot of information from public records, DOF policies, and many other public documents. All of these show that everything they did is wrong and in fact, they shouldn't have been there in the first place.

And now they would say that we are the "bad guys" because WE SAID NO! And guess what - WE WILL NOT GO AWAY! We will not allow them to simply sweep this mess under the carpet. The entire mess will come back to haunt them in a very public and extremely embarrassing way.

Please check back often as we will be continually updating with more information. Also pass this blog address to as many people as you can.

Thanks Again,