Everglades Property Owner Sells; Clears Way for Restoration

Wed July 20, 2005 - Southeast Edition

NAPLES, FL (AP) A man who fought the government for years to keep his home in the rural Everglades has reluctantly picked up his $4.18-million settlement check.

Jesse Hardy said he doesn’t know where he’ll go after his Dec. 1 deadline to move.

“I’m just trying to enjoy every minute I can of what I have left out there,” he said.

The former Navy SEAL lives in a clapboard home he built on 160-acre property with no electricity or infrastructure approximately 40 mi. east of Naples.

State officials went to court to take the land using eminent domain, saying the property sits in the path of an $8.4-billion Everglades restoration. Construction crews are scheduled to start filling in canals and tearing apart roads on Hardy’s land in 2006.

Hardy had rejected repeated offers to sell, saying that he wanted to hold onto a dying rural lifestyle and pass it on to the 9-year-old boy he has raised on the land with the boy’s mother.

He picked up his check in late June.