• Brevard suspect caught chopping down protected wildlife refuge mangroves


    BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - State wildlife agents say a person in Brevard County was caught chopping down federally protected sea grapes and mangroves at a national wildlife refuge.

    The Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge stretches some 20 miles from Brevard County's south beaches to Indian River County.

    It is protected habitat, critical to loggerhead and green sea turtle nesting.

    Florida Fish and Wildlife said that didn't stop the man from cutting down mangroves and sea grapes in the refuge.

    "It would be sort of stupid because that's what saves our sea dunes," Brevard County resident Lou Giammarino said.

    FWC worked with federal officers to identify a suspect, who they said admitted cutting down foliage.

    The name of the suspect was unavailable to Eyewitness News Monday afternoon, but FWC said the person is facing charges for removal of timber on federal lands and trespassing.

    "Mangroves you should probably leave alone, you get fines -- pretty heavy -- for cutting that stuff," Brevard County resident Don Sharon said.

    Officials said fines of $17,000 and fees for restoration will be assessed.

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