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Citrus' progress does not justify tortoise deaths

Editor's note: The following letter was sent to the Citrus County Commission and is being printed here at the authors' request.

Citrus County is one of the few remaining counties in Florida with a population of gopher tortoises and the necessary habitat to support populations of this species of special concern.

In the name of progress we are continuing to destroy this irreplaceable tortoise habitat _ and to make matters worse, destroying a species because of poor planning. To pay a fee because it is easier is unconscionable. What good will mitigating land (to ease consciences) do for these creatures if we continue to bury them alive in the name of expediency?

We all know that roadways are in the planning stages a long time before construction begins _ plenty of time to remove the tortoises. We've heard it said many times, "Wild animals do not pay taxes so they should not have a say." Wildlife is the most heavily taxed. They pay with their lives and the extinction of their species.

Please take the necessary steps to assure this will never happen again in Citrus County.

Jack and Pat Casselberry, Crystal River

Easy method to catch slow tortoises

Editor: In reference to several articles in your paper regarding the elimination of the gophers (being a "Cracker," it's not "gopher tortoises") along the proposed county highway routes:

It all brings to mind my early childhood, during World War II down in Pinellas County. We kids found a way to make a little spending money plus put meat on some people's tables (I tried eating the meat but never fancied it). We found we could get 25 cents each for them, and to a bunch of Cracker kids running barefoot through the palmettos, two-bits was big money when you could go to a movie for 9 cents and a bag of popcorn was a dime.

Anyway, here is our (not always surefire) method of catching them on the cheap. First, find an active gopher hole. How do you tell if it's active or anyone is home? Erase old tracks in front of the hole. When you come back you see which way the most recent tracks are leading. Second, at the hole entrance, dig a hole large enough to put a small wash tub in down to its rim. Come back the next day and take out the gopher. I think the principle of it is that by the time the gopher figures out (not being noted for being overly intelligent) that his front legs are clawing air, gravity takes over.

Seems like something like this should be tried before the expense of backhoes or entombing them. Might even be an idea to offer a bounty to local kids to each one they turn in to be relocated.

Walter Treftz, Hernando

Thanks to Kitty Ebert for her vigilance

Editor: I am not an advocate of super Wal-Marts, Home Depots, CarMaxes, Lowes and the like, but they're as inevitable as frost, flu, taxes and death.

I don't live in Crystal River either, but if I did, I suspect I'd be thankful for a city councilwoman like Kitty Ebert, who is willing to spend both the time and her own money to keep constituents on top of these things.

Newspapers reported two businessmen's viewpoints opposing a letter Mrs. Ebert sent to voters in the area endorsing the annexation of land at the edge of the city, a plan that would permit Wal-Mart construction plans. One said "hogwash" (now that's constructive!), while another speculated on the unsettling possibility that folks from outside the city area might be driving into it either to work, spend money, or (God forbid) take up residence there.

Go to it, Kitty!

Mike Colbert, Beverly Hills

Commission must list toll road's benefits

Editor's note: The following letter was sent to County Commissioner Vicki Phillips and is being printed at the author's request.

I am very confused with regard to your position (and perhaps that of the entire Board of County Commissioners) in regards to the proposed Suncoast Parkway II. If it is the intention of the commissioners for the toll road to be a "limited-access" roadway dividing the county in half, what benefit will it give to the citizens of the county other than high-speed travel from the north end of the county to the existing terminus at U.S. 98?

Doesn't this logic support making it easier for shoppers to get to Sam's Club and Wal-Mart in Hernando County and take the revenue away from local merchants? What will this loss of revenue do to the county sales tax revenues?

I would appreciate your stating just exactly what benefit you see in the toll road with its limited access to the citizens of the county.

Tom Paslay, Homosassa