FDEP proposes resort, lessee pay $110K in mangroves case

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The owner of a Port St. Lucie resort and a lessee face thousands of dollars in fines after protected mangrove trees were cut down along its property line earlier this year.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) said Friday that they have provided both the property owner and the lessee a proposed consent order following the “unauthorized alteration and destruction of mangroves” at the Sandpiper Bay Resort in May.

Officials said they are proposing the responsible parties pay a penalty of $110,395, which represents one of the largest proposed mangrove alteration penalties in state history.

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In addition, FDEP said they are seeking full restoration of the site and for the property owner to enact a restrictive covenant over the altered area so the mangroves can be restored to the original height and configuration.

An investigation found that 17,789 square feet of mangroves were altered without a valid permit.

For the proposed consent order to be finalized, the two responsible parties — property owner Store Capital Acquisitions, LLC, and lessee Altitude Hospitality, LLC — must both sign it.

The Sandpiper Bay & Resort was formerly called Club Med until it recently came under new ownership.

According to FDEP’s website, trimming mangroves up to 6 feet is allowed. Anything more than that can result in the offender being fined up to $100 for each tree illegally trimmed and up to $250 for each mangrove illegally altered.

Wildlife experts say mangroves serve as a key ecological component in several ecosystems, including serving as a nursery for a variety of fish.

Read the full proposed consent order below:

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