KISSIMMEE, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - There is controversy in Osceola County after dozens of old cypress trees were cut down along a popular canal.
A boat ride with Richard Dellinger along Southport Canal is like floating down memory lane. He grew up hunting and fishing with his father on this canal. It’s where he now takes his own children. But cypress trees cut here recently have folks like Dellinger stumped to see part of the canal bare.
“I mean it's not like they were rotted…a large part of this ecosystem. They cut these trees down, there's no shade for these fish to be in the shade in the hot summer months,” said Dellinger, of St. Cloud.
It’s estimated about 30 to 40 cypress trees were cut down in this canal. South Florida Water Management says it was because of flood management. but the people that live around here and use this canal think that it's going to cause more harm than good.
“Vegetation’s going to be gone. Life's going to be gone,’ said Dellinger.
“Cypress trees are part of the beauty of the lake and part of the natural resource of the lake,” said fishing guide Art Ferguson.
South Florida Water Management told Fox 35 the trees were rotting, saying there was concern they would fall into the canal during the next big storm or hurricane, blocking the waterway, potentially causing flooding. They say safety trumps beauty.
But those who use the canal aren’t buying it.
“Flood control? No way does that have anything to do with flood control in this body of water,” said Ferguson.
“The cypress trees hold wisdom. They took a little bit of wisdom away.”