One of the world’s rarest forests, a section of Miami-Dade County’s last intact tracts of endangered pine rockland, is getting a new resident: a Walmart.
About 88 acres of rockland, a globally imperiled habitat containing a menagerie of plants, animals and insects found no place else, was sold this month by the University of Miami to a Palm Beach County developer. To secure permission for the 158,000-square-foot box store, plus an LA Fitness center, Chik-fil-A and Chili’s restaurants and about 900 apartments, the university and the developer, Ram, agreed to set aside 40 acres for a preserve.
Area scientists and nature lovers are protesting the decision:
“You wonder how things end up being endangered? This is how. This is bad policy and bad enforcement. And shame on UM,” said attorney Dennis Olle, a board member of Tropical Audubon and the North American Butterfly Association, who wrote to Florida’s lead federal wildlife agent Friday demanding an investigation.
The university said in a statement that it is committed to protecting the forests — only about 2,900 acres of rockland are left outside Everglades National Park — and helped execute plans for the preserve, but would not respond to questions.
We ask that you all reconsider destroying precious endangered pine rockland, home of many plants, animals and insects found no place else, all for the development of businesses and housing. There is a price on the development, projections of future income, economic and job benefits, all finite figures. However, the land where you want to develop is Priceless and irreplaceable. You can always locate elsewhere. You cannot relocate the rare ecosystem, Nature, wildlife that are part of this wonderful beautiful part of our planet Earth.
We would like to preserve these priceless pine rockland forests for everyone's generations to come.
We hope and pray you all reconsider your decisions and leave this natural paradise to remain and florish.
Great Gratitude for Your Prompt Attention to This Critical Matter!