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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

State timber-harvest contract took odd twists before it fell apart



Don Curtis said he knew something was wrong when he saw the contract announcement from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

This spring DEP planned to hire a company called Forestech to survey the amount of timber to be harvested from state parks. The company claimed only it had the technology to do the job right.

Yet Curtis, a competing contractor, said the Forestech software is off-the-shelf.

"Anybody can buy it," Curtis said.

Curtis objected to the DEP. The next thing he knew, the agency announced it was now taking bids for the job. Even then, however, Curtis said he noticed the DEP all but specified Forestech in seeking bids.

"It looked like they were trying to lock out anyone else," Curtis said.

That $500,000 Forestech contract was cancelled last month. Questions about how it was awarded led to the resignations of at least two agency officials and renewed concerns about DEP Secretary Jon Steverson's management of the state park system.

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[Last modified: Monday, November 16, 2015 11:56am]


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