Bad weather scatters 4 whooping cranes

By Times Staff Writer
Published January 24, 2008



The same weather that has kept this year's whooping crane flock grounded in Hamilton County near the Georgia border for more than a week prompted a crane rodeo on Wednesday.

Early in the morning, Operation Migration ultralight pilots tried to move the 17 young cranes to their next stopover site in Gilchrist County. But early on, the birds stopped cooperating and broke into individual groups, sending pilots and ground crews scrambling.

By mid afternoon, the rare cranes were in several locations between Hamilton and Gilchrist counties. Four were missing, and search crews were scouring in the air and on the ground to pick up radio signals from each of the errant youngsters.

That left Operation Migration's Liz Condie unable to update curious crane enthusiasts on whether a public viewing opportunity would be possible this morning.

This year's flyover is tentatively scheduled at the Dunnellon/Marion County Airport. Information is available at operationmigration.org/Field_Journal.html.


Lawsuit over mall won't be drawn out

The legal case against Cypress Creek Town Center is going on the fast track.

Last week, the mall's opponents won an order in federal court to have both sides file papers for a summary judgment by March 14, pre-empting the prospect of a long, drawn-out court fight.

Led by the Sierra Club, opponents of the 1-million-square-foot shopping center filed suit in October in Washington, D.C., to stop construction of the megamall at State Road 56 and Interstate 75.


Crist supports Pasco's purchase of well field

Gov. Charlie Crist on Wednesday threw his support behind Pasco County's efforts to buy and preserve the 12,500-acre Cross Bar Ranch.

Crist's backing will likely ensure that the sprawling ranch remains on the priority list of projects targeted for preservation under the Florida Forever program. Pasco wants to buy the land from Pinellas County, which acquired it in the 1970s and 1980s at the height of the so-called water wars.

The creation of Tampa Bay Water, a regional water supply authority, ended the water wars. "We are definitely a willing seller," Pete Dunbar, a lobbyist for Pinellas, told Crist.