'Mudding' in Poinciana Gardens causing problems for nearby residents

deputies to turn 'mudders' away from open field

HOBE SOUND, Fla. -- A several hundred-acre field in Hobe Sound has attracted "mudders" for years.

Now, the Martin County Sheriff's Office is increasing its efforts to turn them away.

The lot is behind the Poinciana Gardens neighborhood in Hobe Sound. The property consists of hundreds of privately owned lots.

For some, it's a family friendly event to go "mudding" on the weekends. They bring large trucks or ATVs to drive on the field.

Jeannie Thomas has been going for years. "We love it."

She's disappointed she'll have to find a new location.

Nearby residents say the activity is giving them problems. "I can see them sometimes actually. I can see them right through the preserve area," said nearby resident, Jill Pazur.

The field backs right up to her back yard. "There are times when I'm in the house with all the doors and windows closed and I can actually feel the ground vibrating," Pazur said.

The Sheriff's Office says the land is privately owned, and those people do not have permission to be there.

"There have been abandoned vehicles back there. We've had underage drinking, narcotics complaints and reports of gunfire," said Martin County Sheriff, William Snyder.

Snyder says the area also consists of wetlands that the trucks and ATVs are damaging.

Last weekend, deputies handed out 41 trespassing warnings to people trying to access the land.

The sheriff's office will be maintaining a presence at the lot to make sure no one tries to violate the trespassing laws.

"I understand there is this conflict, this clash between old Martin County and being able to go back there and use it, and a more urbanized Martin County," Snyder said.

Pazur says she's looking forward to things quieting down. "It is nice that something can be done because it's been going on for years."

Sheriff Snyder says the area is hard to patrol because of the size of the lot, and the inability for deputy cruisers to safely drive through the field without using their ATV.

Snyder says people will be able to still go back in the field if they can prove that they have permission from one of the many property owners.