It is time to tell the other side of the Key Marco story. Permits were issued by the then Community Development Director for the work that was done on the Indian mound (Tract 2) and in a Native Habitat Park (Tract V).
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida and the local media referred to this work as “landscaping,” which is incorrect. Our work was exclusively performed on existing vegetation through Natural Area Management, a very big difference. And all work was performed under an active permit.
In fact an active annual permit was in place for the ongoing maintenance of the Indian mound, which did not expire for two months after the code board allegations of working without a permit. They had this permit in evidence. Huh? The Indian mound was being maintained, through the June 2008 Vegetation Management Plan with the city, by weed whipping the weeds for over a year when these allegations were brought.
The stories in the newspapers made it sound like we were excavating, digging and landscaping on the mound. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Indian mound is a 5,000-year-old archaeological site which should be maintained in a pristine state and to do otherwise is to desecrate it.
The city’s Environmental Specialist and the Conservancy allegations of clear cutting understory plants from a Native Habitat Park also could be nothing further from the truth. These areas had been, in fact, decimated by invasive exotic plants like the Brazilian pepper and air potato where no understory plants existed as a result. The Division of Forestry as well as professional ecologists from Johnson Engineering met with and tried to educate the city’s Environmental Specialist and the staff of the Conservancy on the destruction of the natural areas of Key Marco due to the lack of maintenance and management. Instead of listening, admitting their mistake and doing the right thing for the environment this political clique circled their wagons and continued down their litigious path. The community of Key Marco has spent over $100,000 defending the community and their environment against these uneducated and misguided entities.
The city of Marco Island has spent a lot more of our tax dollars and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida continues to squander donor’s money on this ridiculous allegation of damage to the environment of Key Marco.
The travesty in all of this is that the money could have cleaned every exotic from the woods of Key Marco returning the Native Habitat Parks to the pristine and healthy areas they were before the invasion of these exotic plants. This would protect not only the natural environment of Key Marco but also the wildlife that calls it home.
How do these people call themselves environmentalists and sleep at night? Shame on them! There should be no place for politics in the environment.