Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Manatee-Protection Plan Facing Another Hurdle

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Manatee-Protection Plan Facing Another Hurdle

Article excerpt

The Bureau of Protected Species Management of Florida's Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission last week threw what may be another monkey wrench into the city's path toward winning approval of a final manatee-protection plan.

"The effect of the amendments would be to increase the amount of area where motorboat speeds in the Trout River and the waters of Duval County south of the Acosta Bridge, and in the northern portions of Clay and St. Johns counties, " stated an FWC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released last week.

The proposed rule will be discussed at a public meeting beginning tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. at the Florida Department of Transportation Training Facility at 2250 Irene St., just off the Stockton Street exit on Interstate 10 on Jacksonville's Westside.

Some think the new proposals, which had not previously been brought up in the 10-year battle between the state and city of Jacksonville, could have a dangerous effect on water skiing in particular and boating safety in general.

They fear proposals creating a 300-foot shoreline buffer zone on both banks of the Ortega River from the Timuquana Avenue bridge to the St. Johns, a 700-foot shoreline buffer zone on all of Doctors Lake in Clay County and a 300-foot shoreline buffer and total slow-speed zone in parts of Julington Creek in Duval County and Durbin Creek in St. Johns County could make many types of boating in some of those areas dangerous or impossible.

"We are concerned that the situation in that area [on the Ortega River] could become very dangerous as a boating-safety issue [if the 300-foot shoreline buffer is imposed]," said Dr. Quinton White, who as head of the Biology and Marine Sciences Dept. at Jacksonville University serves as the city's manatee-protection consultant.

White, who played a major role in designing the city's final manatee-protection plan FWC commissioners are scheduled to vote on at ameeting later this month, pointed out that the width of the Ortega River in that area is as narrow as 900 feet. …

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