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$1.6 million fine for cutting down trees
by Staff Writers
Jupiter, Fla. (UPI) Jan 26, 2012

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

A Florida couple was fined $1.6 million for cutting down mangrove trees on their property without proper state and city permits.

Roger and Myrna Byrd of Jupiter removed 109 mangroves, a tree Florida has protected since 1985, in late 2010, The Palm Beach Post reported Wednesday.

"Those mangroves will take two or three decades to grow back. It is imperative the judicial system support laws to protect these critical habitats," said Albrey Arrington, the Loxahatchee River Environmental Control District's executive director, referring to the fine handed down by Jupiter Magistrate Paul Nicoletti.

The Byrds must pay the city $15,000 per tree, Nicoletti ruled, and must also pay legal fees to the city.

Neighbors had testified Roger Byrd had complained on several occasions the mangroves were blocking his view of the river.

Mangroves, which can grow to a height of 25 feet, act as a nursery for sea life, filter water and reduce erosion.

The Byrds' attorney said they would appeal.

"That amount is certainly excessive," attorney Greg Kino said.

"I am disappointed but confident we can win an appeal because the law is on our side."

The Byrds had turned down a compromise offer from Jupiter last year to pay a fine of $109,000, or $1,000 a tree, the Post reported.

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