Endangered lizard holds up construction on new Osceola County fire station

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — Plans for another Osceola County fire station are being delayed - not because of money, but rather - a lizard.

The lizard is called a “sand skink,” and was classified as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 1987.


Unfortunately for developer’s these sand skinks are specific to Central Florida and found in counties like Osceola, Lake and Polk.

Before moving forward with the new fire stations, developers will need approval from the federal government.

9 Investigates looked into the issue and how it could impact local public safety.

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Since 2019 two new fire stations were open in the county, the latest being built last year, with the promise of more on the way.

WFTV learned the county knew there were likely sand skinks on this big piece of property but purchased it anyway, because it was this was the best place for the fire station to go.

They knew this would mean delays with the project.

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This threatened legless worm like lizard lives underground and that means no construction can happen without the us Fish and Wildlife approval.

Currently. it is taking more 15 months before it can get a permit to even start construction.

The county has asked Congressman Darren Soto to try and get this process moving, stating the delay not only causes a public safety risk but also holding up two more fire stations.

Channel 9 has told you that the county is sometimes experiencing 20-minute response times and the county has acknowledged that it is playing catch up.

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Multiple requests to interview the fire chief were not granted.

The county only providing this statement from the county spokesperson, stating it is trying to work with FWC to speed up the process, reading in part:

“While navigating the presence of an endangered species adds complexity to the construction process, Osceola County remains steadfast in enhancing public safety through efficient and cost-effective measures.”

9 Investigated spoke to Florida Fish and Wildlife about the permit and how long they expected to take - they said they couldn’t say because it was still waiting on information from the county.

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Shannon Butler

Shannon Butler, WFTV.com

Shannon joined the Eyewitness News team in 2013.