Wekiva neighbors hire attorney to block bear territory land sale - FOX 35 News Orlando

Wekiva neighbors hire attorney to block bear territory land sale

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When a bear invaded a tree house off Markham Woods Road in Seminole County, Randal Turner took home video of the scene.  He said his family sees bears in their yard near the Wekiva River every week, and he wants to protect their habitat.

"They travel through the woods here all the time. It's the last place for them to travel in this area," says Turner.

Turner formed a group called Speak up Wekiva to block the state of Florida from selling twenty-seven acres of conservation land the bears use all the time.  Turner fears developers would build homes there.

"I think it would be bad for people and bears.  If you put more homes there, you will have more bears getting into garages and eating trash in the yards because we are taking their habitat."

Turner wants to know if any developers want that land.  He hired attorney Chris Byrd to get any public records he can from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Byrd is on a mission, "to see if there are any outside influences pushing this process along when it comes to the Wekiva parcels."

Byrd spoke with the DEP Monday afternoon about his records requests.  The DEP is still gathering documents. Byrd has requested any potential emails from developers. 

"It's to see if there are any third parties that have been in communication with the DEP or any members of the administration there about certain parcels in particular," he says.

So far, Turner and Byrd have not found any specific developers trying to score that land.  State Rep. Mike Clelland and State Sen. Darren Soto tell FOX 35 they have sent letters to administrators at DEP, urging them not to make the twenty-seven acres of conservation land in question available for sale.

The DEP tells FOX 35 News it is still reviewing the list of potential sites for sale.  An agency spokesman says he is not aware of any interest in the Wekiva parcels at this point in the process.

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