It is disheartening to read that the University of Miami, a center for higher learning, is helping a developer get permits to build a Walmart, LA Fitness, and other stores on a parcel of imperiled pine rockland habitat near Zoo Miami.
School officials have agreed to help protect a 50-acre tract of pine rockland if the development is allowed to proceed, and officials from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service appear to be buying into the offer.
The big problem with this scenario, however, is that pine rockland habitat must be burned every three to five years, so can these officials explain how a prescribed fire on 50 acres next to a Walmart and LA Fitness could even be possible?
Without fire, the habitat cannot survive, so once this development is in place, it is certain that store owners will fight any efforts to burn these preserves.
Never miss a local story.
As an author of wildflower field guides, I have spent many hours over the years exploring the Richmond Pineland Complex that encompasses Larry & Penny Thompson Park, Zoo Miami, the Coast Guard property, an Army Reserve facility, property owned by the University of Miami, and the property now owned by Coral Reef Commons.
The developer claims that some of the property is overgrown with exotic plants, but it has been shown that once exotic pest plants are removed, native plants and animals rebound, so all of that property can be easily restored.
Simply because no federal-listed plants have been found on the property does not mean they are not there in the seed bank.
And if people think traffic is congested on Coral Reef Drive now, just wait until this development goes through.
Of course, the developers don’t live there, so why should they care?