Volusia County residents upset after mangroves were illegally cut

The Department of Environmental Protection is investigating after about 500 mangroves were cut in a Wilbur-by-the-Sea neighborhood.

The state inspected the property on 4200 S. Peninsula Drive earlier this month and said it found “unauthorized mangrove trimming and alteration had occurred.”

“That’s our beauty there. They’ve taken everything from us,” said Hazelene Pruitt, who lives across the street from Wilbur Rose, the fishing pier surrounding the mangroves.

Last week, the DEP sent letters to homeowner Peter Zarcone, SB Tree Service and Wilbur Improvement Association President, Robert Mills.

SB Tree Service Owner Christopher Forrest told FOX 35 News that Zarcone told him the work had been approved.

“He assured me that he had all approved permits by all municipalities,” he said.

He admitted, however, he did not ask to see the permits.

“We didn’t do our due diligence, and we didn’t require him to prove that to us before starting the job,” he said.

FOX 35 News reached out to Zarcone over the phone, who referred all questions to the association. 

The president said the association allowed Zarcone to do light trimming, but not to the extent of what was done. 

Mangroves are protected by the 1996 Trimming and Preservation Act.

“Mangroves serve as a key ecological component in several ecosystems, including serving as a nursery for many game and sport fisheries, and the department takes any unauthorized trimming or alteration of mangroves very seriously,” said Ashley Gardner, with the DEP.

Gardner said the department plans to meet with all parties involved. 

Afterward, a plan will be determined on the restoration of the mangroves and penalties. 

According to the 1996 Mangrove and Preservation Act, fines up to $250 could be given per mangrove.