Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Vote Challenges State on Manatee Plan

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Vote Challenges State on Manatee Plan

Article excerpt

Disregarding the advice of its own marine biologist and legal

counsel and heeding predictions of a political rebellion by

the City Council and possibly a member of the U.S. Congress, the

Jacksonville Waterways Commission last Thursday cast down the

gauntlet to the state on the city's final manatee-protection plan.

The commission voted 4-2 after an often-stormy 3 1/2-hour

meeting to reject advice from Jacksonville University biologist

Quinton White, city legal counsel Greg Radlinski and Department

of Environmental Protection Bureau of Endangered Species

director David Arnold to adopt a slow-speed 900-foot buffer in

certain areas of the St. Johns River.

The JWC approved a final plan to be sent to Tallahassee

retaining the 300foot buffer throughout the river adopted

several years ago and currently in effect under the city's

Interim Manatee-Protection Plan.

"The state and federal governments will not accept 300 feet,

and I don't believe we could successfully defend it in court,"

said White, who has headed an on-going manatee study for the

city for several years at a cost of some $500,000.

"I think we will be challenged in court no matter what we

adopt," White said. "There are some people who want a

quarter-mile buffer in the river and speed zones in the

[Intracoastal Waterway]. We felt there was no scientific basis

for that."

City Councilman Jim Tullis, who also chairs the JWC, warned the

body that the Council, and others would balk at a 900-foot

buffer, which was proposed for parts of the river off Arlington

and south of the Fuller Warren Bridge as far as Julington Creek.

"What I am catching from the City Council and from

Congresswoman [Tillie] Fowler is that we have gone too far,"

Tullis said of the 900-foot buffer, which was included in the

city plan passed last November but sent back by DEP for

"fine-tuning. …

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