Stop HF Radar System on Hightower Park Preserve

Stop HF Radar System on Hightower Park Preserve

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Sandra Sullivan started this petition to Florida Communities Trust, FDEP Rita Ventry and

Hightower Park Preserve in Satellite Beach, Florida is a state funded Oceanside Wildlife and Habitat Preserve, created in 1999 by what is now called Florida Forever Fund. The problem is Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) will install a High Frequency Radar system on preservation lands meant to be undisturbed. But first they need a permit from USFWS and permission from FDEP. The project is funded by NOAA. 

Preserve documents say, "In no case will the only specimen(s) of listed plants [endangered/threatened] known to be on the project site be disturbed."  Yet the installation requires trenching - the system is 1000 linear feet.  No survey of plants has been done in 20 years. If FIT had done due diligence they would have known this. They would have NEVER proposed to the north of parking lot especially and IMO not propose project on this preserve as imperiled coastal strand!

According to management plan: "The objective of preserving in its native state the largest remaining expanse of contiguous undeveloped oceanfront within the 30+ miles... of reasonably-intact Coastal strand." Additionally, "This project site contains the last remaining natural Coastal Strand, as well as much of the remaining imperiled natural Beach Dune and Coastal Grassland" within 30 miles. "Documented to contain biologically viable populations of three listed plant species (one endangered and two threatened)" and "remnant population of Federal and State threatened southeastern beach mouse."

ACTION NEEDED NOW. Unless we take action, HF radar system will be permitted in 30-60 days for 12 towers near the dune and 4 transmit more towers in an area of heavy vegetation. The project was approved by the City of Satellite Beach 20 January 2021.  We need the Florida Communities Trust (FCT) under the Florida Dept of Environmental Protection to not amend their Preserve Agreement to allow this use; and the federal USFWS agency to say no to the permits.  To do this we need your signature on this petition. Time is very short to get this done. Please share to your friends and please call your state representative and congressman to ask for support on this issue.

The purpose of this Hightower Preserve is for preservation, environmental education and community beach park (with small parking lot to minimize human inpact to preserve). The preserve is to protect endangered plant species, endangered mouse, threatened and endangered shore birds, endangered and threatened sea turtles, as well as protections for the very diverse near-shore reef.  Nothing about this project fullfils the purpose of the preserve. 

The HF radar system doesn't belong in a preserve. Further Dr. Steven Lazarus, FIT said in the Satellite Beach Council meeting that the system is not for research scientists - it is for community purposes.  Therefore, there is no value to the preserve in the way of academic research to benefit the preserve - all the while it has negative impact to sensitive lands.  The purpose of the radar as communicated to Florida Today, states, "improve search-and-rescue, red tide, rip current and erosion predictions."

In addition to disturbances needed to install systems is not acceptable for the preserve-  the system also does not provide any value to the function and purpose of the preserve. The radar does not meet the designated uses of the preserve: "wildlife and habitat preservation, open space and beach acceess for the public, environmental education." The designated uses of the preserve does NOT include radar towers or equiment.

There is also a community concern  whether the radar will  harm the endangered and threatened species on a very environmentally sensitive preserve. No Updated Plant Species Survey and Plan for no disturbance: "In no case will the only specimen(s) of listed plants known to be on the Project Site be disturbed." 

There hasn't been an impact study, or survey of plants/species (supposed to be periodically done under management agreement with state) to access the impact to the preserve. The last survey of endangered and threatened species was 20 years ago.

What scientific studies are available to demonstrate that the HF radar will not impact the preserve? Will it impact endangered mouse?  Will it impact turtles or eggs? Has there been a study on turtle nesting numbers and success before an after installation?  In one study, all (7) of the named species of sea turtles have poor auditory hearing. How would the frequency through the sand affect hatchlings? 

Radar system is 1000 linear feet and requires extensive area to be disturbed which includes dense plantings as they trench to 12 inches for the cables needed. The area of the transmitter antenae is in area of dense plants as is the trailer.  Dr. Lazanus said the disturbance is "pretty minimal" only digging and trenching 6" - while the documents indicate 12".  How do you get through palms or bush without removing the entire plant to dig a trench?  Removing vegetation is a concern as there are endangered plant species on the preserve including the south area - the preserve management agreement protects the plants.  Some areas, such as the transmit antennae location identified for installation is in very dense vegetation as well as the proposed trailer location.  Photos are available.

Having looked at the site, the plan doesn't appear to work because of sea grapes to the dune edge in the north part of the radar poles. Dr. Lazarus also said in council meeting that the reason it was not put at PAFB was because the sea grapes are protected. So without damaging and removing sea grapes at Hightower there doesn't appear to be enough linear footage for the 1000 foot project without altering the sea grapes.

Had FIT taken the time to research and understand the “Oceanside Wildlife and Habitat Preserve” they would not have suggested the area north of parking lot in response to comments on social media. Putting the radar poles in the north section of the preserve would be worse since this is the highest valued portion of the preserve environmentally as pristine and several endangered plant species. 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,000!
At 1,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!