Who Is in Charge?
22 April 2016
It has happened again . . . another visitor to the SRWMD conservation area, a public site locally known as the Lukens Tract, experienced an obscene verbal assault by the owner of the private inholding parcel. In this bullying attempt to threaten and intimidate, the property owner showed a volatile side of his personality to another person who had the legal right to be on the site.
The bullying and sending of intimidating, threatening letters to some of those who do not agree with the property owners, has been an on-going tactic since the public, some eighty individuals strong, opposed the sale of the conservation land during the SRWMD meeting in Cedar Key in November of 2015.
Now, in an attempt to keep the public out of the conservation area, tactics have intensified to include verbal, threatening assaults on people who are visiting the conservation area, with every legal right to access this public land.
The attack this Monday was only one of the attacks by the present private land owner.  The menacing, aggressive verbal abuse leveled upon visitors on in this publicly owned, pristine conservation area just north of the Number Four Bridge is inexcusable.
This public conservation area has been owned by the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) since 2011 and is managed by the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge. No incidents have been reported on this public land until the recent sale of the in-parcel to the present owners. All of the confrontations have occurred on the public conservation land. Some of these attacks have been reported to law enforcement agencies and to both the SRWMD and the LSNW Refuge.
The 60-foot public access right-of-way, that runs from the paved road at the entrance to the east end of the tract, has been in use for years. The new owners were aware of the existing right-of-way and that it crossed through their property when they purchased their site.
This Lukens Tract is state conservation land and is open to the public for recreation uses. The SRWMD has had signs posted on the conservation property to inform the public of the different parcels and how to proceed through the properties. These signs lasted no more than two days before they disappeared. No one has been charged with the theft or vandalism of this state property.
This harassment of visitors to the conservation areas has to be stopped. These recent attacks are aggressive, criminal and dangerous.
This is state land managed by a federal agency. There should be no reason for the public to feel that they cannot safely visit the area. Who is in control here?
The Cedar Key News