Thursday, April 28, 2011

Florida gave away 2,094 state-owned trees to make room for billboards

With the blessing of a current state senator, and the help of a former state transportation secretary who is now the Clay County manager, a billboard company cut down more than 2,000 state-owned trees without paying the state a dime, according to emails and state records reviewed by the Times-Union.

Over a roughly five-month span in 2009, Milton-based Bill Salter Advertising received 105 permits to cut down trees impeding the view of its billboards across the Panhandle. Emails show that Salter sought help from then-Rep. Greg Evers, R-Milton, and then-Transportation Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos, who was hired in March by Clay County.

Companies typically pay the state depending on the number and type of trees removed.

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