Environment: Florida's Battle of the Swamp

In the East Everglades, homesteaders and officials square off

After he retired from his road-paving business in Miami, Russell Carter, 63, acted on a lifelong dream. On five acres of sparsely settled land 20 miles west of the city, he set up a rural retreat, built a ranch house, landscaped the plot around it and stocked four new fresh-water ponds with fish. Ever since, Carter has been in deep trouble.

So have many of his neighbors. Jo Ann Kirkland, 42, was arrested and taken away in handcuffs. When a pesky bureaucrat called on Tom Cartier,...

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