Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Audubon fires back at Ed Turanchik over Schultz Preserve

Posted By on Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 10:51 AM

click to enlarge Charles Lee is the director of advocacy for Audubon of Florida.
  • Charles Lee is the director of advocacy for Audubon of Florida.
The escalating feud between Ed Turanchik and Audubon of Florida doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon.

Just hours after we published a story Monday quoting Turanchik as saying that the environmental group is off-base in their criticism of using the Fred and Idah Schultz Preserve as a terminal for one part of his proposed high-speed ferry project in Hillsborough County, Audubon's Charles Lee shot off a fiery response to CL.

In the email, Lee expresses his disappointment in Turanchik's attitude and says that an excerpt from an email that quoted Audubon's Ann Paul in the story was taken out of context, and has been "selectively circulating." Lee also takes exception with Turanchik's suggestion that the Schultz Preserve was proposed to be developed as a public park with an access road identical to that which would be needed for the ferry terminal and other significant facilities that would impact the restored habitat on the site.

"These arguments are, however, not factually correct," Lee tells CL.

Lee provides a link to the Management Plan for the Schultz Preserve site, which says this in regards to future recreational development:

“The Conservation Services Staff prefers to keep the Preserve with a minimum of public access until the vegetation planted during the restoration have matured and are less vulnerable to human impacts. At that time, the Preserve should be evaluated to determine the amount or type of recreation that should be provided to the public. If the Preserve supports sensitive habitat for endangered and threatened species, such as least terns then public access will be kept to a minimum.”

“4.2 Proposed New Facilities and Management Measure Recommendations.”

“If it appears that the site will not attract least terns and other shore nesting species, the new recreational facilities may include a birding platform on the observation mounds, a canoe launch, a small parking area, and a marked hiking trail...If daytime hiking is found to be compatible, there will be walk–through gates and a kiosk installed...”

“An access Road needs to be established on the site and may simply require mowing consistently a road that does not impact the planted vegetation. The ditch on the eastern boundary will require a culvert if the access point is permanently installed in this location. A parking area is proposed in the southeastern corner of the preserve, to be accessed over the
culvert mentioned above.” 
Lee says this proves that any recreational development contemplated for the Preserve "does not include a major roadway through the site to its western terminus sufficient to support the heavy daily commuter traffic generated by a ferry terminal, and its 1,500-car parking lot."

In our story quoting Turanchik, CL was given access to an email that Ann Paul of Audubon composed back in October of 2012. In it, she mentions three possible sites that Turanchik's group should look at, including "a dock site on west end of the Fred and Ida Schultz Nature Preserve." Paul later writes that it "would be a really good project. You could even probably get some RESTORE funding for a multi-benefit project like this."

But Lee says, "The reality was that at the time he was discussing this with Ann Paul, the true dimensions of the facility he was proposing were either undisclosed or unknown … and certainly nothing in the range of a 1,500-car parking lot was discussed!"

Turanchik is representing HMS Ferries, the private ferry operator working with Hillsborough County on the proposed high-speed ferry project.

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