Article Courtesy of Daytona
By Abigail Breashier
Published April 7, 2020
After over 500 mangrove trees were illegally slashed in Wilbur-By-The-Sea in the
beginning of January, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is
issuing fines to the final two of three responsible parties.
Ashley Gardener, a
spokesperson for the DEP, said the consent orders were
issued to the Wilbur Improvement Association, Inc. —
Wilbur-By-The-Sea’s voluntary Home Owner’s Association — and
Peter Zarcone, the individual who hired the tree cutting
service to slash the mangroves.
Zarcone will pay a total of $5,559 in penalties, and the
improvement association will pay $4,849. As of Tuesday
morning, both Zarcone and the improvement association did
not respond to News-Journal inquiries for comment.
DEP fine amounts are determined by the Environmental
Litigation and Reform Act, Gardener said.
“The Department has worked diligently to ensure that the
responsible parties were held accountable and that the area
impacted will be fully restored,” Gardener said. “The
Association’s consent order includes penalties and the
requirement of a full restoration plan.”
The fines include civil penalties as well as costs and
expenses incurred during the DEP’s investigation of the
end of February, the DEP issued a consent order to fine SB
Tree Service $6,000. The Holly Hill company’s workers
chainsawed the 8-foot-tall mangroves to a height of only 3.5
feet to improve a homeowner’s view in Wilbur-by-the-Sea, but
didn’t have required permits or training.
After over 500 mangrove trees were illegally cut in
Wilbur-By-The Sea in January, The Florida Department of
Environmental Protection is issuing fines to the final two of three
Mangroves, which are protected by the state, are known to foster important
habitats for fish and birds and are considered to be of great ecological
importance, which is why they’re monitored closely by the DEP.
According to the consent order, $5,000 of the fine against SB Tree Service
is for violating Florida Statute 403.121, which states the state can recover
damages for “for any injury to the air, waters, or property, including
animal, plant, and aquatic life, of the state caused by any violation.”
There are about 469,000 acres of mangrove trees in Florida, according to the
DEP’s website. Their importance “cannot be overemphasized,” because of their
ability to cycle and trap different organisms, nutrients and chemicals
through their expansive root system.
In addition, roots provide homes and attachment surfaces for animals, and
act as nurseries for fish, shellfish and crustaceans.