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Nov 16, 2012

Crooked Tree protests to get Audubon out of village

The historic village of Crooked Tree on the Northern Highway is a Wildlife Sanctuary since 1984. A vast network of lagoons and interconnecting waterways lure thousands to the village which is also home to the largest nesting population of the Jabiru stork. But tonight the community of Crooked Tree is at war with the Audubon Society, the co-manager of the sanctuary. This morning, the villagers staged a protest to put the NGO out of the village. The fight with the Audubon is long standing; it is over the protection of the wildlife versus their livelihood.  And while the issue has been brewing for some time, it came to a head because residents claim the NGO confiscated logs from one of their own. Duane Moody has that report.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

As of seven-forty-five this morning, Crooked Tree residents protested in front of the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary Visitor Center at the entrance to the village. The center houses the Audubon Society, which according to the residents, have refused to meet with them.

 

Steve Perriott, Vice-Chairman, Crooked Tree

Steve Perriott

“When we had the meeting last night, it was to come to a compromise to see how we could start a dialogue to amend some of these laws so that it could benefit the villagers and not just the wildlife.”

 

James Dawson, Resident, Crooked Tree

“The villagers had come out because they were upset because we called a meeting with the Audubon and with respect Audubon said to me personally that they were gonna contact Fisheries and Forestry. And apparently they said that they were not going to show up point blank if Fishery and Forestry doesn’t show up.”

 

Steve Perriott

“The majority of the people, more than ninety percent of the people; and I would dare say a hundred percent of the people said that we no longer want to talk with Audubon, we just want Audubon to leave. We feel as a village that we would be able to run the sanctuary better than it is being run now and a way that it would be more profitable for us. Just as a figure where everybody could understand.”

 

The contention between Crooked Tree residents and the environmental departments has been ongoing for some time because they feel that several environmental laws practically constrain their livelihood. But the straw that broke the camel’s back occurred a few days ago when a representative from Audubon confiscated twenty pieces of logwood from a villager. This action, the villagers feel, was uncalled for and after a meeting held last night, at the Community Center, the consensus is that Audubon must go.

 

James Dawson

James Dawson

“This village was here long before Audubon got here. Audubon come here as a bird sanctuary. Now if you look at the sign, it is not a bird sanctuary, it is a wildlife sanctuary. Wildlife means everything in this village is for them. They don’t want us to kill the alligator that bite the same guy. The jaguar just killed one of my neighbor’s dogs; ih eat our cows. We are not supposed to kill them because they belong to Audubon. Does Audubon give us anything for our cattle that they eat? Does Audubon compensate us for the jobs we are not going to have by hauling the fish; the tilapia we eat?”

 

Steve Perriott

“Just as a figure where everybody could understand. Audubon on average donates or gives to the village from the tourists that come in fourteen hundred dollars a year; that works out to three dollars and ninety-five cents a day that the village get. Now for three dollars and ninety-five cents a day, that gives them a right to take away over ten thousand dollars worth of fishing nets; that gives them the right to take away thousands of dollars from the people that would otherwise be making this money cutting posts responsibly. We, the villagers of Crooked Tree, for years have just been sitting back and laws have been made that affect us and we have been abiding by these laws the best that we can. A few days ago, a gentleman from Audubon, who is a Bird person, took away posts from this villager who was cutting twenty posts of dead logwood to sell. Now Audubon has no business dealing with posts.”

 

James Dawson

“Crooked Tree is one of the oldest places. Crooked Tree was one of the place with the most logwood was cutting in ancient days; where they used to make the dyes and thing; it’s from Crooked Tree. Look at the logwood posts, the logwood trees. You go to Audubon Bird Walk, look what under there; it is the same logwood post they don’t want us to cut. The logwood that the villagers cut, most of the logwood would be the dry ones that is already gone. The logwood that the village cut would be for firewood. The logwood that they cut for post again is only the straight ones and when you cut a logwood post like ten or twelve branches come off so you are pruning the tree. We don’t cut all the tree down. We just take the selected logwood.”

 

The police were brought in and after ten a.m. the group left, but the villagers are willing to compromise and dialogue with the environmental departments.

 

James Dawson

“We are inviting them once more. The people say we are going to have a meeting Saturday night; seven-thirty at the same location. Maybe seven o’clock was a little too early so we out it to seven-thirty this time.”

 

Steve Perriott

“I will take this time to invite the people from forestry, the people from fisheries, the people from Audubon to once again come to the meeting tomorrow night and let’s talk. We have to start talking.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

 

This afternoon, the Audubon issued a release saying that, “Any incidents as a result of the regulatory agencies enforcing the Laws of Belize must be taken up with these agencies.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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7 Responses for “Crooked Tree protests to get Audubon out of village”

  1. it's just that simple says:

    “which according to the residents, have refused to meet with them.”

    Sounds like the same problem the public is having with the public accounts committee.
    Having the government show up at any meeting, would be major news story.

    Good luck to the people at Crooked Tree, Audubon, and the government.
    As Belize slides into a failed country.

  2. Artful says:

    Environmentalism is becoming unsustainable in Belize. Too many restrictions that stop development. Too many fees that can be used to protect the environment.

  3. Simone says:

    GET ALL ENVIRONMENTALISTS OUT OF BELIZE NOT ONLY CROOKED TREE-THEY HAVE THEIR OWN INTERNATIONAL AGENDA AND FUNDED BY ABROAD FOR THE INTERESTS OF ABROAD-WHEN THE AMERICANS WANTED DEVELOPMENT-THEY BULLDOZED MOUNTAINS AND KILLED THE INDIANS-NOW WE CANT PLANT PEPPERS, FISH, CUT LUMBER, DIVE CONCH, LOOK FOR OIL. IF A DEVELOPER WANTS TO PRODUCE AND CREATE JOBS LIKE SUGAR FACTORY IN ACYO-THIS GOVERNMENT AND ENVIRONMENT DEPARTMENT STOPS THEM. THE PEOPLE MUST BE PROTECTED BEFORE THE JUNGLE, BEFORE THE FISH, BEFORE THE JAGUARS. GET DEVELOPMENT GOING UDP-ITS BEEN 5 YEARS AND NOTHING TO SHOW. WE ARE TIRED OF WAITING FOR A MIRACLE. IF WE DESTROYED OUR WHOLE ENVIRONMENT, THAT WOULD BE ONLY 1% OF 1 US STATE’S POLLUTION AND DESTRUCTION. I DONT AGREE TO DO THAT BUT TO SHOW THE HYPOCRISY AND IMPRISONMENT. WE ARE A SOVEREIGN COUNTRY-NOT TO BE SCHACKLED.-HANG THE CRIMINALS NEXT.

  4. cdb says:

    The Audubon Society cannot and should not interfere with the residence of Crooked Tree, I understand they have an interest in the wild life of that area, but these villagers must live and make a living also and the safety and welfare of the people comes first in my opinion.

  5. krinderhagen says:

    Easter Island

    Went through all their resources

    Regulations are designed create equalty and save resources town meeting would be able to address minimum and maximum effiency of resources as well as have wlid all
    life resource control over hunting food supply and the name they use for trees and tember

    Can city control provide restrictions to excessive control of Audobon maybe the town leader can reseanable of objectives

  6. Robert2 says:

    Give Belize back to the Belizians. We have that problem here in the U.S., liberal elitists who want to control land, people and freedom because they are convinced that they know what is best for everyone.

  7. Saprina Jemison says:

    Steve I Love You and miss you. Thanks for everything you have done. Good to see you happy. My number is 8608373326

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