Published: Jun 14, 2011 10:36 PM EDT
Updated: Jun 14, 2011 10:36 PM EDT

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - It's a protected plant versus a priceless view in Collier County. Residents at the Barefoot Beach Condominiums say over the last 15 years the mangroves have grown to block their waterfront view overlooking Little Hickory Bay.

"When they bought these places I assure you they paid for that view," Barefoot Beach resident George Hargreaves tells WINK News. Residents that live on the first floor, twenty feet above the ground, in four of the buildings have their view completely blocked by the mangroves.

The protected plants are on preserve property owned by Collier County. Condo residents say they're willing to foot the bill for tree trimming, even hire a mangrove specialist. Laws protect the mangroves, and branches thicker than an inch can't be cut, but the condo only wants to trim the smaller branches.

"We're not talking about using a chainsaw and taking a big swath of mangroves out," Hargreaves reiterates.

The Department of Environmental Protection allows for some mangrove trimming; however, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida doesn't want the plants to be touched at all.

"If you trim red mangroves improperly, and if you trim large red mangrove trees, you often times will weaken the tree and you could end up killing the tree," Nicole Johnson with the conservancy explains.

Part of the reason mangroves are protected is because of the animals and organisms that rely on them. Hurting the plants hurts the ecosystem.

The conservancy wants commissioners to nix the idea altogether and let nature take care of itself. "In a preserve you simply don't need to be trimming trees for aesthetic purposes. That's a very dangerous precedent."

Collier Commissioners have asked the condo's attorney to go back and come up with some more information, including details about the permitting process. They will revisit the topic again at a future meeting.