Residents worry about consequences resulting from wetland

Dec. 30, 2004

Residents of Rustic Ranches fear the sound of shotgun blasts from duck hunters. The neighborhood will be surrounded by man-made wetlands. Discussions about what recreational activities will be allowed there are under way.

The South Florida Water Management District, in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers, is overseeing construction of a storm water treatment area known as STA-1 East adjacent to Rustic Ranches. The marshes are designed to filter phosphorus and other pollutants from storm water runoff before it reaches the Everglades.

The marshes also attract wildlife and are popular with outdoor enthusiasts like bird-watchers, hikers, kayakers and duck hunters. Other existing storm water treatment areas, such as one already in operation just a few miles away known as STA-1 West, allow limited public access for recreational purposes.

Rustic Ranches object to hunting taking place near their homes whose back yards will border the storm water treatment area. Homeowners will be surrounded on three sides by the wetlands and whatever recreational activities may take place.

Storm water treatment areas were created under the 1994 Everglades Forever Act, and others are being built under the Everglades Restoration Act of 2000. Four are complete and two more are planned for the future.

Meetings will be held with Rustic Ranches residents in the coming months to discuss plans for the surrounding wetlands and recreational activities.

Duck hunting advocates point out that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission controls hunting through on-site officers, and permit holders must abide by strict rules.

Source: The Palm Beach Post