Sand skinks cost Lake County $25K, delay road construction project

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CLERMONT, Fla. —

Tiny lizards called sand skinks have delayed road construction near Clermont and boosted the cost at the same time.

The federally threatened species was found on a quarter of an acre along Hartwood Marsh Road. The discover is costing Lake County $25,000.

"I think the environmentalists and the federal government has gotten to the point where they're pushing so many restrictions on us that it's obnoxious," said Vance Jochim of the Lake County Fiscal Rangers.

The presence of the 5-inch snake-like lizards forced the county to hire a consultant to verify they were living in the sand. Following the verification, the county must now put money toward land in Polk County that has been set aside for the skinks.

The Lake County school system had to spend more than $70,000 after skinks were discovered near Grassy Lake Elementary in Minneola.

Officials said skinks can add up to 7 percent to the cost of road projects, not to mention how long the critters can delay construction.

Skinks are mainly active during the day and eat mostly insects. Several species are found in Central Florida, including the sand skink and mole skink.