Conservation groups back alternative site for dredge spoils
HERNANDO BEACH -- A coalition of environmental groups has written to Gov. Charlie Crist and other federal, state and local officials to oppose the use of the county's first pick of a spoils site for the Hernando Beach channel dredging project.
The coalition, which includes Audubon of Florida, the Gulf Coast Conservancy, the Gulf Restoration Network and the Nature Coast Sierra Club, cites a variety of environmental concerns regarding the site on Eagle Nest Drive owned by the prominent Manuel family.
"We have serious concerns that the original (permit) and the Eagle Nest Drive/Manuel property disposal site will negatively impact wetlands, will cause coastal ecosystem degradation and will negatively affect state resources like the Minnow Creek, Seagrass Canal and Mullet Canal,'' they wrote.
Instead, officials with the conservation groups are urging that the county use the alternative site on nearby Shoal Line Boulevard to dump the dredged materials. That site used to be a county wastewater treatment plant. The state Department of Environmental Protection last week issued its pre-permit for the county to use the alternative site.
The DEP had previously issued a pre-permit for the controversial Eagle Nest Drive site, but residents of the area challenged that site. Their challenge comes before an administrative law judge in hearings next week.
The Hernando County Commission meets behind closed doors today to discuss their litigation strategy for those hearings.
--Barbara Behrendt, Times staff writer