Toes in the sand, trespassers on the land: Volusia’s island life

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — The Halifax River provides a scenic place for swimming, fishing, and a day out on the water.

Dotting the scenic waterway, you will find dozens of islands some barely poking out of the water and others stretching on for hundreds of feet with trees and vegetation.


The islands are easily accessible by boat and recently have become a haven for people looking for a place to live and avoid the law.

Law enforcement says the number of structures has exponentially grown over the past few years, with some of the islands featuring tents and wooden structures; many built with stolen materials.

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“We’ve been out there now for death investigations, we’ve been out there for wanted individuals, and it seems like every time we go out to the islands, we find more and more issues,” said Chief Manuel Marino of the Port Orange Police Department.

Earlier this year, Port Orange police and the Florida Department of Fish and Wildlife visited the islands removing several people and issuing trespass warnings.

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Then, weeks later, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office returned to do the same.

“Obviously I have a Navy, I have so many boats floating around, I think everybody is starting to realize, ‘Hey, if the sheriff’s got resources, why not tap into them’,” said Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood.

For law enforcement the concern isn’t just the people living on the islands without permission, it is the people also wanted for outstanding warrants. There is also a concern with people living on these islands as hurricane season enters the summer months.

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“You see all the debris, all the wood and stuff they got out there, you know that’s going to end up in the intercoastal waterway, it’s going to damage somebody’s boat. It’s going to damage the environment,” Chitwood said.

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