Lake Shore Hosp Auth / Lake DeSoto Hawks
Berry Wants People "to Have the Truth"
Posted May 12, 2016 07:44 am | (1 comment)
COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Once again, the subject of the Hawk family nesting on Hosp Auth property in the last stand of publicly accessible trees around Lake City's Lake DeSoto was a topic of discussion at the Lake Shore Hospital Authority during its monthly meeting on Monday night. Three Columbia County residents came to address the Governor's Board about the issue. Authority Manager Jackson P. "Jack" Berry told Jacqui Sulek, Conservation Chair for Four Rivers Audubon, "I just want people to have the truth put in front of them."
Berry Turns His Back
Three speakers addressed the Governor's Board and Manager Berry before Four River Audubon's Jackie Sulek spoke. Mr. Berry turned his back on each one, before turning to recognize Ms. Sulek
Lake City/Columbia County resident, Sandra Buck-Camp, a retired pharmacist, addressed the Board. As she began to speak, Manager Berry turned his back on her. The Governor's Board did not take exception.
Ms. Buck-Camp, who has been critical of the Authority from time to time, began, "Thank you for letting me speak in front of you."
Manager Berry refused to look at her.
Ms. Buck-Camp had concerns concerning Hospital Authority property and the hawks in the trees.
She asked, "Is there a violation of any federal state or other laws or statutes that would impair moving the trees while it's occupied by wildlife?"
Her question was ignored.
Then as she continued, a bell went off. Ms. Buck-Camp had used only 66 seconds of her allotted three minutes to address the Board.
Chairwoman Chancy announced, "Your three minutes are up."
Ms. Buck-Camp replied, "I don't believe that. One minute possibly, but not three."
Your reporter volunteered that the time on his recorder showed that only two minutes had passed since the beginning of the meeting.
Ms. Chancy and the Board ignored the obvious. Ms. Buck-Camp's time was hijacked.
Columbia County resident Barbara Lemley addressed the Board. Manager Berry remained with his back turned.
Your reporter, also a County resident, explained to the Board that there was no plan regarding the "Jack Berry Highway" (the proposed road through the wetlands) that showed any impact to the area of trees at the south end of the hospital where the hawks were nesting.
Your reporter said, "I understand Florida Fish and Game has ordered you not to cut down the trees, or at least some of the trees. Maybe Jack [Manager Berry] could report on that today."
Manager Berry remained with his back turned.
The hospital is on the left, the park area is next. This is a hawk habitat and the last stand of trees accessible to the public around Lake DeSoto. (file)
Four Rivers Audubon Society
Ms. Jacqui Sulek, Conservation Chair for Four Rivers Audubon, came to the lectern to address the Board.
Manager Berry turned to look at her. This was Ms. Sulek's first appearance at an Authority meeting.
Four River Audubon's Jacqui Sulek
Ms. Sulek explained that after 30 years a survey of breeding birds of Columbia County was being updated. "I was excited to see that there was actually a pair of nesting red tail hawks right on the lake. (This is in the stand of trees that the Board scheduled for clear cutting). These birds live sometimes for 30 years -- they usually mate for life. They tend to come back to the same area to re-nest, year after year and these are some of the few birds that have actually learned to live pretty well with human beings. They are a real nice asset to our community."
She said that she decided to come to the meeting to find out why there was an urgency to remove the trees.
"I know you guys are aware that if you are going to remove an active nest you need to get a local and a federal permit."
Ms. Sulek explained that she stopped quite a number of people in the area of the trees and the nest.
She said she asked those folks, "Are you aware that the trees that are marked are targeted to come down?"
She paused and continued, "And they were like, 'Oh my God, that is so unfair. What a disaster.'"
"I came here with the question of, what is the urgency?"
Ms. Sulek continued, "I know in terms of getting a permit from the city, aesthetic value is one of the components you need to consider, and then there is also need. So what really is the need?"
"My request is to take a look at what the needs are. If the needs are immediate, do what you need to do. But if the needs are not immediate, let this family raise their young and then make your changes after that."
Ms. Chancy asked, "So they will leave? The birds will leave?"
Manager Berry addresses Ms. Sulek.
Manager Berry addressed Ms. Sulek, "First of all, nobody has had any intent of cuttin' those trees while that bird was nesting. As usual, the public gets misinformed by certain people."
"I've been in touch with the Federal Wildlife Commission. I'm doin' everything right by the book. I just want to set the record straight. And the Florida Wildlife Commission has not ordered me not to cut the trees. I just want people to have the truth put in front of them."
Ms. Sulek said, "I totally get it. Thank you."
Ms. Chancy added, "The trees are a hazard to the hospital – the way they stand – some of them.
Those were the last words during the meeting regarding the hawks and the trees.
After the meeting your reporter spent a brief moment with Ms. Sulek and asked, "I spoke to Florida Fish and Game. They told me they were picking up the phone to talk to him [Berry]. Do you know if they ever spoke to him?"
Ms. Sulek replied, "Fish and Wildlife, yeah. They told me they had connected with him. They're not going to take down the trees now."