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A Letter to the Board January 19, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Nature, People.

ChessAfter writing Birds of a Feather Flock Together, I sent a letter to the presidents of the master association and our component association:

First, let me compliment you (and the other board members) on the handling of the meeting last night.  You covered a lot of ground with grace and good humor.  Well done.

Second, let me voice an objection to cutting down the Australian Pines on the west side of Spoonbill Landings without a more formal inquiry being done by the master board to assess the residents’ concerns and the best way to handle those concerns.

When Mr. McBride informed the master board last night that he had called everyone who lives on the west side of Spoonbill Landings to ascertain how they felt about the birds and the trees, his statement shocked and alarmed me.

No one called me, and I live on the west side of the street.

When I stood up to inform the board that no one had contacted me, neighbors assured me that they had included my opinion in the poll based on the concerns I had expressed for the birds and the trees at our component association meeting back in November.

They said that they had not bothered to call me in advance of last night’s meeting because they already knew that I disagreed with their assessment of the situation, as well as with their proposed solution.

But their attendance at the master board meeting last night, en masse, belied their explanation for the intentional oversight.

I expect they didn’t call me because I would have asked why they were conducting the poll, and that would have opened a can of worms they didn’t want opened.  Once I knew about the poll, I would have known about their plan to attend the master board meeting for redress of grievances against the birds.

Perhaps they wanted to present their petition to cut down the trees and evict the cormorants without ”the opposition” there to voice objection?

The vast majority of the neighbors who attended the meeting last night know how I feel about the birds and the trees and none of them let me know about their plans to petition the master board.

Perhaps they didn’t want me to have an opportunity to share a slightly different view of the world with the board before the board made a decision?

The trees in question provide shelter and nesting ground for pelicans, herons, egrets, anhingas, and osprey in addition to the cormorants, and provide shade in the summer months.

Before cutting them down, more questions should be asked of everyone living on the west side of Spoonbill Landings.

At present, I have no idea what questions were asked during the poll referred to last night by Mr. McBride.

Nor do I know whether the proposed solution of chopping down all of the trees was conveyed to those polled.

And the reason I don’t know is that I was intentionally excluded from the poll.

Hmm . . . I wonder, was anyone else excluded?  Are the numbers accurate?  If so, what do those number signify?

Perhaps residents were asked only if they EVER smelled an off odor coming from the lagoon.  If so, it’s not surprising that 51 out of 55 (if the numbers are accurate) said, “Yes.”

I, on occasion, have smelled an off odor coming from the lagoon.  But I go out on my deck EVERY DAY and the smell has never chased me inside.  The smell has never caused me to shut the lanai doors when I otherwise wanted them open.

Before spending $15,000 (or more) to top the trees and haul them away, a drastic step which would upset the current environmental balance behind our villas ~ an environment enjoyed not only by the birds, but by otters, turtles, and raccoons ~ I request that the board ask a few more questions, not only of the residents of Spoonbill, but also of the local agencies charged with protecting our environment.

Perhaps a less expensive solution could be found.  Like buying nose plugs for those offended by the nature that surrounds us.

Third, I object to the calling of a special meeting of the master board to address these concerns in the absence of evidence to substantiate the need for haste due to the threat of imminent harm ~ for example, affidavits from medical practitioners rather than the hearsay and anecdotal evidence offered by my neighbors last night.

Thank you for your consideration of my position in this matter.

Quote:  They took all the trees, put ‘em in a tree museum. ~ Joni Mitchell

Related posts:   Ten Things We LOVE About Florida * Otters Outta Sight! * Why I Otter Kill You! * Florida Is For The Birds


1. Cindy - January 19, 2011

I’m sure they are violating some sort of nature conservation laws even thinking of cutting down the trees?

nrhatch - January 19, 2011

The Australian Pines are a non-native species which can be invasive, so they are often cut down . . . but not with nesting birds in them.

And not within 300 feet of nesting eagles.

Also, the trees are in the middle of mangroves which are desperately needed to protect the coasts from erosion.

I’m concerned that cutting the trees and hauling them away would damage the mangroves which are federally protected.

friends of the pines - January 21, 2011

dear ms. hatch – please go to http://www.australianpines.org for many helpful hints/strategies on how to save your australian pines.
you may also e-mail friendsofthepines@
msn.com. we’d like to help you preserve your pines – friends of the pines

nrhatch - January 21, 2011

Thank you so much!

Your website is excellent. I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who sees benefits to the pines. 🙂

2. Debra - January 19, 2011

could this be a wet lands issue? would the land now held in place by the trees be lost (run-offs , etc) if the tress were removed?

so many questions they need to answer. Behind you all the way.:)

nrhatch - January 19, 2011

It is a wetlands issue due to the proximity of the Pines to the Mangroves.

I just want them to jump through ALL the hoops required rather than making a rash and irreversible decision.

The President of the master association just responded to my letter by saying that the master board will not act in haste! Yay!

3. Richard W Scott - January 19, 2011

Score one for the birds! Well done.

nrhatch - January 19, 2011

Here’s to “slow and steady” rather than “act in haste, repent at leisure.” 😀

4. Booksphotographsandartwork - January 19, 2011

I think issues such as this must come down to laziness and stupidity. We had quite a few older trees in the area that were completely chopped down instead of being prunned. They were not the type of tree that would endanger the power lines or could not be saved. Someone just did not want to take the time to do the job properly. Those trees were not on beautiful but housed and fed many birds. I was so upset to go out for a walk and discover all of those beautiful had been hacked to death.

5. Booksphotographsandartwork - January 19, 2011

Ah well speaking of haste, I must not have read the article correctly as I thought you said they had already cut the trees down. Then I failed to see where you received a letter from the President of the master association. At least you were notified.

nrhatch - January 19, 2011

They are still standing, and will probably be here for the immediate future.

That’s sad about the trees near you. People are often both lazy and stupid. And rash. And selfish. And . . . 🙂

6. Carol Ann Hoel - January 19, 2011

I admire you for doing what you can do to preserve the environment and protect the wildlife. Blessings to you, Nancy…

nrhatch - January 19, 2011

Thanks, Carol. We really do have a wonderful master board. It’s just the component associations who try to fly “under the radar” on occasion. 🙂

7. Brown Eyed Mystic - January 19, 2011

I second Carol. Way to go, Nancy!

I wish I can soon visit the beautiful side of Australia where you live. 🙂


nrhatch - January 19, 2011

Aah, BrownEyed. The only slice of Australia here is the Pines. I’m in Florida, USA. 😀

8. jannatwrites - January 19, 2011

Good for you for not backing down, Nancy! It sounds like their survey involved only talking to people who agreed with them.

I don’t know why, but the nose plug suggestion made me laugh out loud…did you really put that in the letter? I love it 🙂

nrhatch - January 19, 2011

Thanks, Janna.

Yes, I did put it in the letter. My BFF suggested I take it out, but I left it.

Life is better with laughter.

9. Paula Tohline Calhoun - January 19, 2011

So glad you got a decent response from the Master Board (not sure I like that name – sounds rather imperious! :-D) However, I admit to a bit of nervousness for the trees and birds. . .is the Board leaning in the direction of your feeelings, or the other, or neither? (In terms of later decisions.)

What occurred to me is, did this “association” ever stop to wonder how their neighborhood got its name? I mean “Spoonbill Landing” wasn’t named for a concrete pier, or macadam parking lot, or just a strip of grass. People fail to recognize that many of the reasons they decide to live in a place such as that are because of the natural beauty and wildlife! Then, after moving in, if they discover some inconvenience caused by the same things they loved in the first place, they decide to get rid of them! How stupid! It’s like the people from out of State who move to Wayneville because of its slow and easy pace, and natural beauty, and then once they get here they want to build big shopping malls, and get every sort of chain store and restaurant here, and complain because everyone is so slow, and that they can’t shop the way thy used to! Go figure!

I’m behind you all the way! It was an excellent letter, stated your case well (amd the birds’ and trees’, too), and all the while staying cordial and respectful. Good job!

nrhatch - January 19, 2011

I’ll take it a step at a time, and do my best to look out for my fine feathered friends.

I’ve done some research this afternoon which should make the board cautious about cutting down trees and hauling them out in a way that might damage the mangroves.

I’ve also started collecting information showing that cormorant guano is essentially odor-free ~ so the birds may not even be the cause of the odor.

I’m satisfied from the response I received that the board will look into the situation and proceed with care, rather than just adopting a knee jerk reaction.

Lawyers + Letters = Perfect Together 🙂

10. 4minutewriter - January 20, 2011

Talk about a skewed perspective- cutting down those trees as a solution?! Craziness…
I do hope the board become bird advocates quickly.

nrhatch - January 20, 2011

One of the seven board members is very pro-environment. He is opposed to the annual trimming of the mangroves (via permit) and also is in favor of making the lakes more self-sustaining. The rest of the board I’m not as sure about. Time will tell.

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