Guest Commentary: We’re not ‘landscaping’ Key Marco

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.

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 13

ajm3s writes:

THANK YOU!

Environmentalist need to be called out. They like rules and regulations to curtail exploitation of the environment, but in the end the rules and regulations are what actually lead to more government morass and environmental damage.

Ms. Ward you are a true steward of the land and those who say otherwise are speaking from a position of defending their own rationale for maintaining their existence. I for one find the Conservancy and many agencies on the wrong side of the argument.

You are truly a blessing to this city. And your tireless work without a city award or public acknowledgment. Now that is what I call true advocate of nature.

For me it all started with "Silent Spring" so long ago. Environmentalism has fallen so far astray from Rachel Carlson's epic cry in the 1960's. To now where environmentalist are now managed by lawyers and relegated to the world of litigation rather than remediation.

Listen to the cries of the Conservancy, when they go before council. Notice how many times they use legal terms rather than environmental terms to plea for help.

I believe they lost there way and Ms. Ward you are the best example to show them the path to restoration.

ed34145 writes:

Ah, Ms. Ward, what about your letter of violation from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection??????

GorgonZola writes:

We thought the Smithsonian was originally asked to visit the site many years ago when Key Marco first was established. Why not ask them how they feel about all of this?
Not every qualified environmental specialist is a politician, even when he or she works for a government agency. Most of them are highly qualified, educated people, REAL graduate biologists who deeply care about the environment and do not make loose and unfounded statements. They sleep at night because their comments are based on fact and scientific information. Because of their knowledge and dedication they make good stewards of the environment and often, we understand, are even heard and respected by the cities for whom they work. It would be interesting to know if Marco's environmentalist agreed with whatever Community Development person gave you permission to do exactly what was done on Key Marco.

chinkley writes:

Once again Key Marco has used Ms. Ward as their scapegoat for doing what they want to do. They are really landscaping. Many native trees(i.e Oaks, palms, Gumbo Limbo) have been cut down or had the limbs trimmed in the Indian Mound and the Native Habitat areas. There are stumps to prove this. Also if they are only trying to rid the properties of exotic vegetation, why have they NOT removed all the Braizilian Perrer trees along the area by the gate that hide the Mangrove die-off?? They also have not removed any of the Australian Pines in the area behind their club house...only because these trees don't suit their purpose to beautify their property. You can give any spin you want, but it is landscaping. These areas are to be left as native habitat and they are violating the natural beauty that Key Marco has always been known for.

froggy01 writes:

"They like rules and regulations to curtail exploitation of the environment, but in the end the rules and regulations are what actually lead to more government morass and environmental damage."

ajm3s, what a load of illogical bull. Environmental laws protect the environment from the depredations of short-sighted or unscrupulous people who don't believe in the value of an intact, unpolluted ecosystem. If you don't like Silent Spring, I urge you to start getting your drinking water from a source polluted by untreated run-off and to try to ride out a hurricane in a house that isn't buffered by mangroves.

If regulations had been followed on Horr's Island (Key Marco my big toe), the native vegetation that was removed illegally would still be there and a lot of time and trouble would have been saved. It's not as though following the rules is hard; I suppose Key Marco just thinks it's above the rules. That the Marco Eagle would print such a pack of lies is not surprising, but it's disappointing nonetheless. That foolish commenters would cheer on such action is also completely unsurprising for Collier County.

Ocram (Inactive) writes:

Ms. Ward,

What was the full extent of education required for the title of Certified Horticulture Professional and Licenced Natural Area Manager. Was it weeks, months, years? What sort of "degree" testing was required?

An well informed public would like to know.

susan.helm#243533 writes:

Ms.Ward, your educational background is inadequate to assert you know so much about native vegetation, and in particular, about the signed laws necessary to protect Florida vegetation. Unless, Ms. Ward, you think your qualifications of a High School degree, an occupational license to mow and blow lawns, and a 5 class course to become "certified" in natural areas management (interestingly completed after the violation of illegal vegetation removal) is considered adequate education to be vocal toward others with knowledge about the protection of vegetation in Florida. I respect your opinion, but seriously, it merely represents just another "limited education" opinion only, nothing more. From reading the discussion following your guest commentary, it is interesting that the level of input is primarily from an emotional viewpoint rather than an educated response. However, Ms. Ward, according to your limited education and lack of respect for Florida vegetation, this probably makes you "feel" good inside, right?

Ocram (Inactive) writes:

in response to susan.helm#243533:

Ms.Ward, your educational background is inadequate to assert you know so much about native vegetation, and in particular, about the signed laws necessary to protect Florida vegetation. Unless, Ms. Ward, you think your qualifications of a High School degree, an occupational license to mow and blow lawns, and a 5 class course to become "certified" in natural areas management (interestingly completed after the violation of illegal vegetation removal) is considered adequate education to be vocal toward others with knowledge about the protection of vegetation in Florida. I respect your opinion, but seriously, it merely represents just another "limited education" opinion only, nothing more. From reading the discussion following your guest commentary, it is interesting that the level of input is primarily from an emotional viewpoint rather than an educated response. However, Ms. Ward, according to your limited education and lack of respect for Florida vegetation, this probably makes you "feel" good inside, right?

I had to do a "Google" to find out the requirements of Ms. Ward posted qualifications.

What you posted is significant and important because many people upon seeing titles such as Ms. Ward has posted think that there is more to the person's background and experience than what maybe really there.

BTW a significant part of the exam for the license is "open book". Now how difficult can that really be?

ajm3s writes:

in response to froggy01:

"They like rules and regulations to curtail exploitation of the environment, but in the end the rules and regulations are what actually lead to more government morass and environmental damage."

ajm3s, what a load of illogical bull. Environmental laws protect the environment from the depredations of short-sighted or unscrupulous people who don't believe in the value of an intact, unpolluted ecosystem. If you don't like Silent Spring, I urge you to start getting your drinking water from a source polluted by untreated run-off and to try to ride out a hurricane in a house that isn't buffered by mangroves.

If regulations had been followed on Horr's Island (Key Marco my big toe), the native vegetation that was removed illegally would still be there and a lot of time and trouble would have been saved. It's not as though following the rules is hard; I suppose Key Marco just thinks it's above the rules. That the Marco Eagle would print such a pack of lies is not surprising, but it's disappointing nonetheless. That foolish commenters would cheer on such action is also completely unsurprising for Collier County.

Really, you cannot find examples of a rules or regulations that create a morass? If you want a real world experience I will be glad to forward one to you.

My point is to not confuse those who actually engage in environmental remediation with organizations purporting to encourage such. How much money from the Conservancy is actually benefiting the removal of non-native species or is it to the benefit of legal proceedings and winning an interpretation of contract law? If I recall, the time line, the Conservancy was quick to pull the trigger with regard to contract issues. Or is theirs to be an educational model and monitor.

I strongly believe in protecting the environment but I sense the Conservancy has demonstrated its legal might (i.e. activist) at the expense of protecting and restoring the environment i.e. environmentalist.

I may not have been clear or perhaps you missed my point by my introduction of Silent Spring. There was a time when an environmental activist actually represented the interests of nature and not man's ability to creating contract law or regulations with unintended and sometimes meaningless or ambiguous rules.

In this case, the environmentalist and the activist are not the same and may in fact, work against the restoration of a natural ecosystem.

In the end, it takes money to restore the land, and pursuing legal contract issues miss the mark to goal of removing invasive non-native species. And this under a ruling that may actually favor the Conservancy (legal contractual basis), but does it further the cause of environmental remediation.

The inner workings of nature are such that non-native invasive species interact with native specifies. They do so in a way that competes, interrupts, and eventually disfigures and destroys, its native host plant and environment.

To those that complain of existing Australian pines, I would actually raise the position that these plantings were initiated hundreds of years ago, before Key Marco was developed. And the initial logic of those that brought seeds many hundreds of years ago, was to stabilize the coastal areas and minimize shoaling.

http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/...

I guess the envisioned benefits of years past may have been ill conceived. So are we not to question the practices of the Conservancy environmentalists (or is it activists) today?

But then again, nature has its own regulations and man has his. And from my viewpoint, the Conservancy has lost its zeal for the protection of native species. Even if you believe that non-native species can be removed without impacting the native species.

marcosandflea writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

KMMZ5358 writes:

Little Flea,
Your destructive comments regarding a city employee are just like your cohorts, the mow & blow queen and the little weasel, Jury Sanddoeless based on no FACTS or back up material. Obviously you think the general public will take you as saying something like gospel when in fact you and your KeyMarco buddies can not back up any of your abusive innuendos because there are none? If you think the general public can not read for themselves and would just listen to your defamatory remarks about a city employee you are wrong little flea. You have nothing to support your accusations or you would have included them. I would like any attorney to look at your comments and provide some free advice to this city employee. Not just for slander but against the city manager and city council for doing nothing to stop the hostile work environment that has been created since this city manager gave the mow & blow queen a permit against each of his city laws. Check to see how many law suits have been filed since he took office. Council, your city manager does not listen to any of his staff, just outsiders such as little flea, mow&blow queen and jury sandoeless. What is wrong with this picture? Or do you care?

KMMZ5358 writes:

Little Flea, if you want to slander a city employee, at least spell the name correctly!!

Ocram (Inactive) writes:

in response to marcosandflea:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The above is not only slanderous but appears to be another "Red Herring" perpetrated by a certain Island interest group in order to discredit selected city employees and in itself should be looked into by the legal authorities.

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features