Sad news today for South Florida environmentalists, sea turtles, and Mother Earth: After a circuitous and arguably shady legal battle, Fort Lauderdale's Mayan Beach Sand Dune was plowed over at some point in the past 48 hours.
Even though an August court decision sealed the dune's fate, the destruction blindsided supporters. Richard WhiteCloud, head of the Sea Turtle Oversight Protection Program, says his group had scouts watching the beach for heavy equipment that might signal the end was nigh.
But without any warning WhiteCloud got a call yesterday from a staff member that the dune had been 86'd.
"It will have a substantial impact on the eco-system," WhiteCloud says. "Sea turtles are very specific about where they nest."
For the past year, WhiteCloud and others have been trying to fight the Department of Environmental Protection's greenlight on the dune destruction. Also standing against the bulldozing was Broward County and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee, as well as about 500 locals who signed a petition in opposition. That didn't stop the court's decision, proceedings WhiteCloud says amounted to a "kangaroo court."
When you start tallying up the losses possibly associated with the removal, it makes you reach for the bottle. The vegetation system lacing the dune no longer exists. Migratory birds who overnight at the location might be impacted. And the sea turtles?
"If we think the turtles will act as they're genetically supposed to, they will wander around that area looking for the dune," WhiteCloud says. "We can't put up a sign that say, 'Hey, your dune has been knocked down. Move further north.'"
Mama sea turtles roaming the beach, lost -- if you can shake that image from your head, you are one stone-cold bastard.
Incidentally, DEP has a lot of dirt clinging to its reputation right now. As we've reported previously, the director is currently under the federal microscope for possible violations of the Clean Water Act.