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Sunday, March 3, 2024 | Back issues
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In Florida, Sea Turtles |Fight Beach Activities

CN) - A trio of sea turtles are the unlikely plaintiffs in a lawsuit accusing Broward County, Fla. and the state Department of Environmental Protection, among others, of allowing beach activities that disrupt the creatures' nesting environment.

That's right, turtles.

Fort Lauderdale attorney Kenneth Trent filed a lawsuit on behalf of Green Sea Turtle, Loggerhead Sea Turtle and Leatherback Sea Turtle, asserting Endangered Species Act case, in federal court in early November.

Since then, the defendants, which also include the city of Fort Lauderdale, Galt Mile Community Association, Ocean Summit Association, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, have files motions for dismissal on the grounds of failure to state a claim, but the suit goes on.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom ordered the parties to submit a joint scheduling report by Dec. 28, including a detailed plan for discovery.

Trent argues the turtles have standing to file a lawsuit under the Endangered Species Act because several activities -- including leaving cabanas on beaches overnight and beach "raking" -- harm the turtles' nesting and could prevent hatchlings from reaching the ocean.

In addition, Trent opposes a beach nourishment project that benefits two community associations' private beaches. Since these are not public beaches, he argues, the $52 million nourishment project should not be approved.

"If the raking practice was discontinued, and if the project were canceled," the complaint states, "it is more likely than not that the dunes naturally present on the beach would ... 'regrow.'"

The turtles, through Trent, are asking for attorney fees and costs.

Nicole Sharp, Natural Resources Administrator for Broward County, said the county cannot comment on pending litigation, but added the beach nourishment project has gone through the proper permitting process.

"We're confident that our actions are beneficial to sea turtles and sea turtle habitat," she said.

Florida's Department of Environmental Protection also could not comment directly on the litigation, but insists they follow all state statutes. Fort Lauderdale's Assistant Attorney Alain Boileau did not want to comment on pending litigation.

Trent has a history of representing those with a quieter voice. He gained some notoriety during the financial crisis by representing homeowners facing foreclosure under the moniker "Foreclosure Destroyer."

Galt Mile Community Association, Ocean Summit Association and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not respond to e-mails requesting comment on Thursday.

Follow @alexbpickett
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