Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

DEP Cites Sandpiper Resort in Port St. Lucie for Unauthorized Destruction of Mangroves

Photo courtesy Club Med Port St. Lucie

Port St. Lucie - Friday June 9, 2023: The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued a warning letter to the Sandpiper Bay Resort in Port St. Lucie citing the "unauthorized alteration, including destruction, of mangroves."

Following a complaint from a local resident DEP investigators inspected the property on two occasions last month, on May 10th and May 17th. The warning letter was issued on May 30.

"This warning letter is the first step of the department’s formal enforcement process," said DEP Communication Director Alexandra Kuchta in an emailed response to WQCS' request for comment. "We have a number of enforcement tools we are able to use to address these violations,".

"Fines and penalties," are among those enforcement tools said Kuchta, adding that "enforcement can also result in mitigation, restoration and/or remediation actions through a Consent Order or other enforcement mechanism."

DEP's investigation "remains ongoing" she said, emphasizing that "the Department is committed to enforcing Florida's environmental laws and holding violators accountable."

The Sandpiper Bay Resort was formally known as Port St. Lucie Club Med. It is located at at 4500 SE Pine Valley St., Port St Lucie. The 216 acre property was purchased last year by Altitude International Holdings.

No response has been received yet to WQCS' emailed request for comment from Altitude International.

Background Information on Mangroves

The 1996 Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act (sections 403.9321-403.9333, F.S.) defines a mangrove as any specimen of the species Laguncularia racemosa (white mangrove), Rhizophora mangle (red mangrove) or Avicennia germinans (black mangrove).  To protect the environment and prevent harmful effects, the department enforces the Mangrove Trimming Preservation Act, which regulates the trimming and alteration of mangroves. The Mangrove Act does not distinguish between living and dead mangroves, so the same trimming regulations apply to each.

Mangroves serve as a key ecological component in several ecosystems and provide substantial benefits to our environment and coastal communities. Some of those benefits include:

  • Habitat for estuarine and marine food webs
  • Assist with maintaining and improving the quality of our coastal waters
  • Their roots and trunks resist and prevent shoreline erosion
  • They can protect homes and property from severe wind damage