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Everglade homesteader needs your letters

5/27/04 submitted by Julie Smithson, www.PropertyRightsResearch.org

Article #1: State, Hardy reach tentative agreement on land buy - "...Cabinet members by a 4-0 vote gave the Department of Environmental Protection authority to wrest Hardy's property from him by condemnation..."

(Note: There are three articles here. Folks, this is a veteran whose land is homestead land. To my knowledge, condemnation has never been used in such a case -- and Jesse certainly didn't ever expect this unconstitutional shredding. Clearly, this is NOT for a road, post office, school, etc. It is for "Everglades restoration," which is part of The Wildlands Project, to use the language deception of "endangered species" to take control of more than half -- and likely more than three-quarters -- of America's landmass, and all the natural resources therein. It is nothing short of criminal. Please, raise your voice and let your public outcry/outrage be HEARD! It's a LONG WAY from being over -- Jesse has not quit; don't you give up on him now! "You'll know it's true ... when it happens to YOU!" Will you wait until then to speak up, and then wonder why no one rallies to help you? Or will you add your voices to the growing number that understand the Control Scheme of The Wildlands Project and the "endangered species" SHAM that it really is? Write a letter to the editor of these papers -- the email address has been researched and furnished for you, to make it easy to get involved! Write/email/fax to Governor Bush: that information, too, is here for you to use. "Someone should do something" is being said a lot these days -- let YOUR name be "Someone" and DO SOMETHING! Contact: Governor Jeb Bush: jeb.bush@myflorida.com, The Capitol, 400 South Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399, 850-488-7146, Fax: 850-487-0801)
May 26, 2004
By Michael Peltier mpeltier1234@comcast.net or 850-656-4422
1075 Central Ave.
Naples, FL 34102

Fax: 239-435-3451
Click here to view a larger image.
Click here to view a larger image.
Tallahassee, Florida - Governor Jeb Bush and his Cabinet offered landowner Jesse Hardy a carrot Tuesday -- while wielding a stick -- in continuing efforts to uproot him from 160 acres that stand in the middle of local Everglades restoration plans.

After months of negotiations and deferrals, the Cabinet voted on a plan agreed to by Hardy's attorneys that would give him until August 31 to give up his parcel in exchange for an acceptable tract north of his current Southern Golden Gate Estates homestead.

If an agreement cannot be reached, Cabinet members by a 4-0 vote gave the Department of Environmental Protection authority to wrest Hardy's property from him by condemnation, a process they have taken great pains to avoid.

Hardy and state officials are considering several parcels where Hardy could continue making a living in the remote Collier County region. The 68-year-old Navy veteran, who has rejected several lucrative offers to sell, has requested that he and his family be allowed to continue operating an existing earth-mining business and open a fish farm.

Tuesday's Cabinet ruling allows DEP officials to begin condemnation proceedings July 1 if the parties cannot reach a relocation agreement. The rule further requires DEP, if it chooses to seek eminent domain, to initiate such proceedings by August 31.

In the meantime, state officials and Hardy agree that they will work toward finding an alternative site for Hardy to live and work. So far, five sites have been proposed, with state officials and at least one environmental group saying the most promising site is located in northern Belle Meade area.

"Progress," Bush said after the unanimous 4-0 vote to accept the proposal.

Hardy could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but a letter written to DEP State Lands Director Eva Armstrong on Hardy's behalf says he agrees with the agency's recommendation.

"Based upon my conversation of (May 24) with S.W. Moore, Esq (Hardy's attorney) and Jesse Hardy, I have asked you to represent to the Governor and Cabinet our concurrence with the direction sought by the DEP as outlined in the agenda provided to you (Tuesday)," attorney Gregory Rix wrote.

Tuesday's vote is the latest effort by the state to buy out all property owners in the region. Of more than 19,000 parcels under private ownership, only four parcels remain. In addition to Hardy's parcel, the Miccosukee Indian Tribe owns a large tract of non-homesteaded property and is going to court to keep it.

State environmental officials Tuesday referred to Hardy's property as the "hole in the doughnut" of more than 19,000 parcels that have been purchased by the state in Southern Golden Gate Estates. Over the past several years, the state has purchased nearly 55,000 acres from property owners, many of whom sold based on the threat of condemnation.

The project calls for filling canals, removing roads and pumping water into the region, which provides water for the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve, Ten Thousand Islands and future drinking water for Naples.

Hardy shares a modest home with Tara Hilton, a member of a family Hardy befriended in Miami, and her 8-year-old son, Tommy, whom Hardy has reared as his own son. The state has made five offers to Hardy, who first was offered $712,000 to sell in October 2002. The last offer topped $4.4 million.

Since beginning the buyout, the Cabinet has not approved condemnation proceedings on homesteaded property without the owner's consent and had successfully negotiated with 17 homesteaded property owners. Hardy is the sole holdout. Tuesday's vote allows the DEP to begin condemnation proceedings, if necessary, without Hardy's consent.

Last week, the DEP circulated a map labeled "Potential Exchange Parcels" that shows five parcels, one south of I-75 and four north of I-75. All of the parcels are privately owned.

Some of the parcels equal 160 acres but others are larger; Hardy would have his pick of 160 acres within those parcels, according to the DEP. But hurdles remain. Hardy would have to seek new county approval for his proposed fish farm and some parcels could raise concern from local environmental groups.

Hardy has two conditions to any swap: that he be allowed to continue his earth-mining business and plans for a fish farm, and that he stay in the same school zone so Tommy can keep going to the same school.

Officials say one especially promising tract is in Belle Meade. Currently owned by Paul Hardy, (no relation to Jesse), the parcel is located within one of Collier County's designated Natural Resource Protection Areas.

"The governor and Cabinet continue to be extraordinarily generous and patient with Mr. Hardy, but I think they have finally made a determination to move ahead with condemnation if they have to," said Eric Draper of the Florida Audubon Society.

Two other articles follow, but here's the contact information for Florida Governor Jeb Bush:
The Capitol
400 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Fax: 850-487-0801
Article #2: Bush clearing taking of Hardy's land
(Note: The Wildlands Project is much, MUCH larger than the "94 square miles" stated in this story.)
May 26, 2004

Tallahassee, Florida - Governor Jeb Bush and other Florida Cabinet members on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for state officials to force a Collier County man to give up his home if he doesn't agree to a land swap.
It is one of the final obstacles to a 94-square-mile Everglades restoration project.

The landowner, Jesse Hardy, 68, for two years has rebuffed Florida efforts to buy his 160 acres deep within the failed Southern Golden Gate Estates subdivision. Hardy has turned down offers that began at $711,725 in 2002 and rose to $4.5 million in April.

Hardy has turned down proposed land swaps with the state, but in early May told Florida officials he would reconsider. Brigham Moore, the law firm representing Jesse Hardy, sent state officials a letter Monday agreeing with the plan to attempt a swap. The attorney could not be reached Tuesday for further comment.

Among the new parcels the state is offering is private land owned by Naples land speculator Paul Hardy, a friend of Hardy. The men are unrelated.

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Colleen Castille said there is no value set on those parcels, and that she would have to enter into new price negotiations.

Three months after the Department of Environmental Protection declared the drained cypress wetlands critical to Everglades restoration, Jesse Hardy received permission from Collier County to operate a fish farm.

Environmental regulators say the aquaculture permit has allowed him to blast and excavate the land, creating pits that further drain the land the state wants to flood.

The DEP has used the state’s eminent domain powers to force more than 1,490 other landowners to sell their property within Southern Golden Gate Estates. One of those suits, against the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians, is scheduled for a hearing today.

But because Hardy lives on his land, he is protected by Florida’s homestead laws.

Tuesday, the [Florida] Cabinet agreed to waive that protection for him if the land swap falls through.

If that happened, a Collier County jury would decide if the state needed the land and, if so, how much it should pay Hardy.

Article #3: State intends to move to seize land of Everglades holdout
(Note: The AP refuses to ever mention The Wildlands Project, choosing instead to mislead the public into thinking that this is a much smaller issue than it really is. This is the setting of a precedent, if veteran-homesteaded land is taken for a huge natural resources control scheme all dressed up as a "restoration" project. Ask the DEP just what time period in history it intends to "restore" the Everglades to -- and how it can get the public to swallow such an obviously unconstitutional and criminal taking. There's only one way: lie about it.)
May 25, 2004
By David Royse, Associated Press
Miami Herald
Miami, Florida
To submit a Letter to the Editor: HeraldEd@herald.com
Tallahassee, Florida - The state's environmental secretary got approval from Governor Jeb Bush and the Cabinet Tuesday to move forward with the seizure of 160 acres owned by a man who refuses to sell it for Everglades restoration.

Secretary Colleen Castille of the Department of Environmental Protection told Bush and the Cabinet that her agency is still trying to work out a settlement with Jesse Hardy, a Collier County man who has refused to sell his fish-farm property the state says it needs for a massive restoration of the Everglades.

If the agency can't work out a deal with him by August 31, it can move ahead with the seizure, she was told.

The agency has offered Hardy as much as $4.5 million, an amount that has steadily increased from roughly $711,000 the state figured it was worth when it first started trying to acquire the land in 2002. Hardy acquired his parcel in 1976 for $60,000. The state said its most recent offer, the eighth it has made to Hardy, was far more than the property is worth now.

Hardy has become something of a folk hero because of his stand against the government's attempt to buy his land. The 67-year-old former Navy SEAL has said he's not interested in moving anywhere other than where he's lived for almost 30 years. His supporters wrote "The Ballad of Jesse Hardy" asking people to "Rally 'round ol' Jesse, boys, and answer Freedom's call."

Hardy's homestead is part of an area known as the Golden Gates Estate South.

If the state acquires the land, it would become part of Picayune State Forest [NOTE: It will become part of the rewilding of the southern third of Florida, part of The Wildlands Project.].

"This piece of property is right in the middle of a critical (area) for Everglades restoration," Castille said Tuesday.

Hardy has also rejected an offer to swap the land for a similar parcel elsewhere in South Florida.

Castille told Bush and the Cabinet that the DEP is still trying to work out a land swap and has identified three potential areas where Hardy could live that would still allow him to continue his tropical fish farming business.

But she made it clear that that DEP could start eminent domain proceedings, a court process for the taking of land for public purposes, as soon as June 25 and no later than August 31 if a deal isn't worked out.

Attorneys for Hardy weren't at the Cabinet meeting and his main lawyer was in court and didn't return a call for comment Tuesday.

Castille presented a letter from one of Hardy's lawyers saying he agreed to continue good faith negotiations, and Bush and the independently elected Cabinet approved the beginning of seizure proceedings after June 25 if they can't.

If Hardy and the state can't work out a deal, and the state begins eminent domain proceedings, it could still take several months to condemn the property and force him off.


DEP: http://www.dep.state.fl.us

Jesse Hardy: http://www.jessehardy.com


http://www.wildlandsproject.org/ (The official site of The Wildlands Project) info@wildlandsproject.org

Wildlands Project Studies Wolf Viability in Northern Appalachians
A new scientific study commissioned by the Wildlands Project confirms that there is enough suitable habitat for wolves to flourish in northern New York and Maine. Carnivore biologist Dr. Carlos Carroll used the latest computer-modeling techniques and wildlife databases to predict how wolf populations may expand or shrink over time based on habitat quality, security from threats, and predicted land-use change in the Northern Appalachians. The results of this study suggest that an active reintroduction program is necessary and wildlife linkages need to be protected between Canada and the U.S. http://www.wildlandsproject.org/inside_wp/news.html#wolf and http://www.wildlandsproject.org/library/wolf.pdf

Rewilding Vision Has Global Influence

The Wildlands Project’s vision of wilderness recovery and protection in North America has helped inspire several large-scale wildlands conservation planning efforts overseas. One of these initiatives has emerged in Australia, where more than 150 species are known to have gone extinct since British settlement in the 18th century. The WildCountry program of the Wilderness Society (Australia) is in the process of creating a system of interconnected wildlands for the entire continent -- more than 1.2 million acres of habitat have been permanently protected in northeastern Australia alone. To support this important effort, the Wildlands Project signed an agreement with the Australia Wilderness Society to assist with scientific methodology, campaign strategy, and fundraising. Meanwhile, organizations in Italy, Scotland, Poland, and South Africa have launched their own efforts to reconnect, restore, and rewild damaged landscapes.


In case you are still thinking that The Wildlands Project just "couldn't be" in your neighborhood:

The Wildlands Project

Spring 2003

By Michael Soule

The Wildlands Project

P.O. Box 455

Richmond, VT 05477


Fifty years ago, the earth's human population was half of today's six billion. Large tracts of roadless tropical and temperate forests and savannas still survived, as did unspoiled coastlines and estuaries, unexploited fisheries and healthy populations of gorillas, rhinos, lemurs, sea turtles and frogs. Now, the explosion of our numbers, commercial globalization and the invention of new technologies for land clearing, agriculture and fishing have changed all this, with dire consequences for nature and wildlife.

In the more productive and biologically rich parts of the planet, development has cleaved nature into isolated remnants -- forest reserves, national parks or remaining but vulnerable wildlands. But most of these fragments are degraded, overhunted and laced with roads that accelerate further exploitation and destruction. The rarest animals are among the first to disappear in these island-like fragments. Some of these species, such as jaguars or wolves, are critical ecological actors, or what are called keystone species. Where keystone carnivores disappear, entire ecosystems can collapse. Those species that survive this collapse may not persist for long if their populations are small. Small populations are vulnerable to random events like hurricanes, droughts and inbreeding. Over time, more and more species disappear, until there is little left but a lonely silence.

Fortunately, conservation biologists know how to arrest and even reverse this kind of ecological disintegration. First, restore the severed connections between the isolated bits of nature at both local and continental scales; second, repatriate the keystone species; third, enlarge and rehabilitate the most pristine areas so that they contain all of the original habitats, including free-flowing rivers, unpolluted lakes and the full range of species interactions. All this is what we call "rewilding." Fourth, control the most damaging exotic species. Simple, but not easy. Is such a bold, ambitious project realistic at a continental scale?

In 1991, a group of activists and scientists founded the Wildlands Project. The goal was to link up wildlands from Mexico to the Yukon, from Florida to Newfoundland, from Baja California to the Brooks Range and the Bering Sea. Connections to the North Woods, the Great Plains and great northern boreal forest would also be re-created.

People called the vision "delusional," a hallucination of romantics. Ten years later, however, the basic concepts are mainstream. The idea of rewilding continents, by restoring the keystone species and healing other wounds to our lands and waters, has been widely adopted by the conservation community because it is the only realistic prescription for preserving entire faunas and floras. Internationally, partners such as The Wilderness Society (of Australia) are adapting the vision to other continents.

The volume Continental Conservation: Scientific Foundations of Regional Reserve Networks (1999, Island Press) sped the adoption of the rewilding vision by summarizing the critical role of keystone species and arguing for the restoration of landscape linkages that had been severed by poor land-use practices.

Next, Wildlands Project cofounder Dave Foreman, along with others, completed the "Sky Islands Wildlands Network Conservation Plan," a rigorous and inspiring blueprint based on rewilding principles; it shows how to protect the island mountain ranges of the Southwest. Over the coming decades, as the new wilderness areas identified in the plan are designated, and as wildlife movement linkages are secured, the region's extraordinary wildness will recover. Wolves, jaguars, Apache trout, the Chiricahua leopard frog and many other species will once again thrive in the borderlands.

In northern Sonora, the Wildlands Project, in partnership with Mexican scientists and organizations (Pronatura, Naturalia, Ejido Cebadillas) is protecting thick-billed parrot habitat. Nearby, on the Janos Prairie in Chihuahua, we assisted in the return of the endangered black-footed ferret to the largest prairie dog complex remaining in North America.

The Sky Islands region, however, is just one piece of a continental jigsaw puzzle. The Wildlands Project and its partners plan to help create extensive networks of wildlands -- megalinkages -- across the continent: northern New England and southeastern Canada, the southern Rockies, Yellowstone to Yukon, the Sierra Madre of Sonora and Chihuahua, the Sierra Nevada, the southern Appalachians and elsewhere. In each of these regions, teams of local conservationists, biologists, naturalists, modelers, mappers and other experts are working to draft a blueprint for landscape health. The price tag for planning each region -- each piece of the continental puzzle -- is $200,000. To map and plan the continent will require about $6 million.

By 2008, if we have the resources, we can complete the alternative land-use plan for all of North America. This blueprint, including the steps for on-the-ground land restoration, would be the first of its kind for an entire continent. Do such plans energize activists and agencies? Our experience in the Southwest leaves no doubt: These compelling plans inspire activists, planners and professionals alike.

People love the wild, and they explore wild places to find solace and solitude, to rediscover their own connections to the wholeness of creation. The Wildlands Project endorses wilderness recreation and other sensitive uses of wildlands, including responsible hunting and fishing, backpacking, skiing, camping, river kayaking and rafting and mountain climbing. We know that those who experience the wild become its natural defenders.

But time is running out. Most of the ancient, diverse and beautiful ecosystems of the earth are being converted to plantations, intensive agriculture, degraded pastures, golf courses, theme parks, roads, reservoirs, suburbia and landfills. Whole ecosystems are quickly liquidated, their wild plants and animals converted into paper, cardboard, protein meal and home furnishings. The lands are torn apart for their natural gas, coal, oil, minerals and water. The 21st century is a watershed moment for Earth, the end game for creation: Now is the time for networks of people to protect networks of land, to become a powerful constituency for the redemption of nature

Michael Soule bio: Michael Soulé is a biologist, writer, conservationist and a founder of the Society for Conservation Biology and the Wildlands Project. He has written extensively on ecology, genetics, conservation biology and the social context of contemporary conservation. He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Archie Carr Medal and the National Wildlife Federation's National Conservation Achievement Award for Science. In 1998, Audubon Magazine named Soulé one of the 100 Champions of Conservation of the 20th Century.


A Checklist for Wildlands Network Designs

October 2003

By Reed F. Noss rnoss@mail.ucf.edu, noss_r@bellsouth.net or 407-823-0975

Conservation Biology, Volume 17, Issue 5, Page 1270


The Wildlands Project and Department of Biology, University of Central Florida

4000 Central Florida Blvd.

Orlando, Florida 32816-2368

Also: 2205 Sultan Circle

Chuluota, FL 32766



Systematic conservation planning requires rigorous methods.

Methodological rigor and scientific defensibility are enhanced by conceptual frameworks, standards, and criteria for guiding and evaluating individual plans.

The Wildlands Project is developing wildlands network designs in various regions across North America, based on the goals of rewilding/restoration of wilderness qualities and intact food webs and biodiversity conservation.

The project employs such modern conservation planning tools as spatially explicit habitat and population models and site-selection algorithms.

I created a checklist to assist staff, contractors, and cooperators with the Wildlands Project in the development of regional conservation assessments and wildlands network designs that are consistent with currently accepted standards for science-based conservation planning.

The checklist also has proven useful in the peer review of plans.

The checklist consists of eight general standards, each of which includes several specific criteria that relate to the qualifications of staff, choice of biodiversity surrogates and goals, methodological comprehensiveness and rigor, replicability, analytic rigor, peer review, and overall quality of scholarship.

Application of the checklist is meant to be flexible and to encourage creativity and innovation.

Nevertheless, every plan must be scientifically defensible and must make the best use of available data, staff, and resources.

Moreover, some degree of consistency is required to link individual plans together into a continental-scale network.

The checklist may provide a template that other conservation organizations, agencies, scientists, and activists can adapt to their programs.




Florida: State acres: 34,558,000

Acres of wilderness: 1,422,245

Managing agencies: FWS, FS, NPS


California: State acres: 99,823,000

Acres of wilderness: 14,085,258

How many wildernesses: 130

Wildlands Project MAPS, direct from their source:

The Wildlands Project: Map page       

Listed below are links to high resolution Wildlands Project maps, showing details of their strategic planning. (These maps will take a little while to load as they are 1 mb in size).

High-Resolution Maps (all maps are approximately 1 MB jpeg files)
North American Megalinkages Map


Spine of the Continent Endangered Linkages Map


Crowsnest Pass Endangered Linkage Map


Powder Rim Endangered Linkage Map


Vail Pass Endangered Linkage Map


Sandia-Manzano Endangered Linkage Map


Borderlands Endangered Linkage Map








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