USF cancels plans for body farm in Lithia

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The University of South Florida is no longer considering locating a proposed body farm in Lithia; in a press release Friday afternoon, USF said after a community meeting Thursday night in Lithia many residents objected to what is being called the Facility for Outdoor Experimental Research and Training. The press release says the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office still wants to find a location for a facility to study how bodies decompose when left in the Florida elements.

here is the text of the press release:

USF to Seek Alternative Site for Facility for Outdoor Experimental Research and Training (FORT)

Lithia site no longer being considered after hearing feedback from residents

TAMPA, Fla. (April 24, 2015) – As a public institution the University of South Florida prides itself on being involved and engaged with the communities we work in and serve. That’s why USF, in conjunction with our Hillsborough County partners, held a community meeting Thursday night in Lithia to explain the Facility for Outdoor Experimental Research and Training (FORT) program – its goals, objectives and benefits, as well as to listen to community feedback. Throughout the meeting residents expressed their opinions on both sides of the issue. A number of people shared their views about past projects impacting their neighborhoods.

USF listens to its communities. The residents of Lithia made themselves clear. As a result of this community meeting, USF has decided not to pursue the FORT program in Lithia.

USF continues to believe that Florida would benefit from a program like FORT. Because of its forensic and scientific value and its ability to bring new knowledge to researchers and law enforcement agencies, USF will continue to pursue the FORT program in an alternate location.

“The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office remains committed to the concept of the Facility for Outdoor Experimental Research and Training (FORT). The research and training this facility offers will be a valuable tool in identifying missing persons and solving violent crimes. The Sheriff’s Office also realizes that such a facility would need to be placed in a location that does not cause concern for the citizens of Hillsborough County and agrees with USF’s decision to find a location more suitable than the originally proposed site in Lithia. Although the benefits to having a facility are numerous, they do not outweigh the concerns of the citizens of Southeast Hillsborough County,” said Major Robert Ura with HCSO’s Criminal Investigations Division, one of USF’s many partners in the project.

“Our commitment to working with local law enforcement to help identify missing and lost individuals and to help solve cold cases remains strong and unwavering. We look forward to continuing this important work and to developing an outdoor research facility at some point in the future,” said Eric Eisenberg, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.

Programs like FORT are currently operating in many states around the country, including Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Texas.

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