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Resort owners face hefty fines after illegal destruction of natural area: 'Somebody should be in jail'

"Hopefully one day they'll be taught a lesson by nature."

"Hopefully one day they'll be taught a lesson by nature."

Photo Credit: iStock

A resort owner in Florida and a tenant could be set to face the consequences after cutting down mangroves without authorization.

As WPTV reported, 17,789 square feet of mangroves were destroyed at Port St. Lucie, and a $110,395 fine has been suggested by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. 

According to the FDEP, mangroves are ecologically important to the state, with the roots providing attachment areas for marine organisms. 

"The relationship between mangroves and their associated marine life cannot be overemphasized," the FDEP said. "Mangroves provide protected nursery areas for fishes, crustaceans, and shellfish. They also provide food for a multitude of marine species such as snook, snapper, tarpon, jack, sheepshead, red drum, oyster, and shrimp. Florida's important recreational and commercial fisheries would drastically decline without healthy mangrove forests."

What's more, the mangroves also provide natural protection from storm winds, waves, and floods, which is increasingly important as global heating makes extreme weather conditions like hurricanes and deadly storms more intense.

Florida is particularly prone to hurricanes, with all of the state's coastline experiencing at least one since 1850, according to the Florida Climate Center.

Coastal birds also use mangroves for nesting sites, and the trees can help prevent coastal erosion.

If mangroves become a problem, a permit needs to be acquired for trimming or removal. Since the Port St. Lucie resort owner and lessee didn't obtain one, they could be subject to a huge penalty, which would be one of the largest-ever state fines for mangrove alteration.

The resort owner will also be asked to restore the mangrove site and "enact a restrictive covenant over the altered area," per WPTV.

People commenting on the story on Reddit were outraged by the irresponsible decision to destroy the mangroves.

"Somebody should be in jail," one user said, with another suggesting the fine was too low: "110k...lol that is laughable."

"Hopefully one day they'll be taught a lesson by nature as to why mangroves are so important," added one angry Redditor.

Rules and regulations are typically implemented for a reason, and the importance of mangroves to native species and local residents should take precedence over any aesthetic alterations from property owners. Working together with local experts can ensure environmental protection and keep vital ecosystems thriving — and avoid hefty fines.

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