Dedicated to the protection of birds, other animals, and their habitats through education and activism
Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170; president@SEVolusiaAudubon.org
In 2010, when the Florida Forestry Division was publishing its master management plan, some Daytona Beach residents asked that the Tiger Bay State Forest, west of Daytona Beach, be opened to ATVs and other off-road vehicles. The Forest Service did not grant that request. Late last year, the group tried a different tactic. That was to get the City Commission to write a declaration of support for the activity in hopes that it would help persuade the Forestry Division to change its mind. Now they are upping the ante by asking the County Council to do the same. And they have some support already in the Council.
There are 114 miles of roads in the forest, 52 miles of which are open to street-legal vehicles during daylight hours. The remaining 62 miles are open to the public for hiking bicycling and equestrian use.
The city of Daytona Beach, in its resolution, proposes that all the roads be opened to street-legal vehicles except 10% of the forest which would be allocated exclusively to ATVs, motorcycles and other off-road vehicles. The proponents cite family recreation activities and increased economic activity including jobs because lots of people will come from far and wide to use the facility.
The environmental community is concerned about the damage to environmentally sensitive lands. The Forest was purchased to provide part of the wildlife corridor from the Okefenokee Swamp to the Everglades. It should support large animals such as bears that have a large home range. Off-road vehicles are counter-productive to that effort. In addition, off-road vehicles cannot be expected to remain on roads, even dirt and gravel ones. The likely result will be destruction of swaths of habitat.
The request for the County Council to endorse the Daytona Beach resolution and provide their own to the Forest Service is on the agenda for 3 p.m. on the 21st of March.
In an Oct 2 story in the Daytona News-Journal, Dinah Voyles-Pulver interviewed Cathy Lowenstein, a forest resource administrator with the Florida Forest Service. After characterizing the lands in the Tiger Bay State Forest she stated: "It's very difficult to find areas that are not sensitive."
To me, that says it all.
Representatives of the three Volusia County Audubon Clubs will be attending the County Council meeting. Watch this space for updates.