Clarify our access before you buy it | Feb. 28 letter
Preserving land benefits everyone
More than 75,000 acres of land in Pasco County has been acquired for conservation by the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Some of the major tracts of land include the preserves of Starkey/Serenova Wilderness, Conner, Green Swamp and Weekiwachee as well as Cypress Creek.
The district acquires and manages conservation lands to ensure that vital water resource functions are maintained, and for nature-based recreational activities that do not conflict with its resource protection goals. With the exception of secured structures for flood control and drinking water production, and areas set aside for mitigation and/or restoration, all of the Pasco County lands managed by the district and its partners are open to the public for such activities as bird-watching, boating, hiking, equestrian use, fishing, hunting and camping.
Conner Preserve was purchased by the district in 2003 for the protection of water resources and to provide a regionally significant wildlife habitat and movement corridors. Additionally, portions of the property serve as a mitigation area for the Florida Department of Transportation to offset wetland and other impacts related to its road-construction projects. Since the property was purchased, it has been available for hiking and model airplane users while a formal management plan was being developed.
The district is finalizing the management plan for Conner Preserve, which identifies the sensitive habitat and wildlife at the preserve, and determines appropriate uses of the property that minimize impacts. The plan is expected to go before the district's Governing Board in April and will offer a broad range of recreational uses including hiking, cycling, camping, wildlife observation and picnicking.
Pasco County is an area of immense natural beauty, consisting of many wetlands that house sensitive ecosystems. Preserving this environment for the benefit of current and future generations is a delicate balance of shared responsibility.
For more information on recreational opportunities on district lands, visit WaterMatters.org/recreation.
Will Miller, Land Use & Protection Manager, Southwest Florida Water Management District
Second jury recommends death | March 5 story
I was glad to see that the jury in this case made the right decision to send Lawrence Joey Smith back to death row. While I respect the fact that he has tried to rehabilitate himself, and asked for mercy, and yes, he may have had a rough childhood, he cannot rescind the fact of his cold-blooded execution of two young men. Although Stephen Tuttle survived, his meaningful life was robbed by this insensitive killer. If Stephen didn't have the presence of mind left to plug the bullet hole with his finger, he would have joined Robert Crawford lying on that cold road shoulder that night.
I know this because I had both of these young men as students at Land O'Lakes High School. Robert was a fun-loving young man who was in the wrong place that night, and Stephen was along for the ride. Little did they know they would meet two vicious predators bound to try to kill them. As for Faunce Pearce, he deserves the same sentence; he may not have pulled the trigger, but he gave the order. Ordinarily, I don't respond to these types of cases, but when justice is properly meted out, it deserves recognition. In memory of Robert, and as minimal comfort to Stephen and both families, justice has been done.
Good job, jury and Judge Lynn Tepper.
David Pike, Odessa
Writer doesn't understand GOP | March 5 letter
Republicans ignore our rights
I got a kick out of the statement by Pasco County Republican chairman Bill Bunting in his March 5 letter to the editor, stating, "I'll help get Republicans elected who will support the Constitution." If we have another eight years of Bush-like Republicans running the country, our already weakened Constitution will be in shambles and the country will resemble Nazi Germany in 1940.
The Republicans are the last people to trust with our Constitution. Their support of Bush, Cheney and the parade of incompetent, puppet attorneys general has proven their unworthiness beyond a doubt.
Bill Fanning, Hudson
If they're citizens, where's the flag? | March 5 letter
Were we seeing the same protest?
You need to get your eyes examined. There was a mix of American and Puerto Rican flags. In fact, I saw more American flags. I was there; were you?
Get your facts straight before you make sarcastic remarks like Ginny Brown-Waite.
Rico Torres, Bayonet Point