Although I was unable to attend the pinelands preservation march, I’m glad to see that there was a substantial turnout. On the video attached to the Jan.18 article Rocklands backers protest, the developer’s lead biologist implies that the only way to protect the endangered pinelands is for the developer to manage them.
There are several problems with this claim, not the least of which is, who will monitor the developer in perpetuity? What will be the penalty for noncompliance? The developer’s claims that there already is substantial environmental degradation on the property is correct. Regrettably, the University of Miami appears never to have taken seriously its stewardship responsibility for the land, as there are abandoned medical-research facilities on the property. Additionally, there are invasive species including the Brazilian pepper tree and the Burma reed. All of this needs to be addressed.
In order for the endangered pinelands to be protected, a comprehensive conservation plan needs to be developed covering the entire pinelands site. For this to happen five things must occur:
First, a responsible party must be identified and empowered to manage the entire site.
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Second, a permanent financial plan needs to be developed to cover the costs of the pinelands conservation management.
Third, since the developer now owns the land, it is probably inevitable that a portion of the land will be built upon. Therefore, a means of enforcing the developer’s habitat-conservation plan needs to be identified.
Fourth, the status of the proposed tourist attraction being planned for a portion of the Coast Guard property must be negotiated to protect the pinelands.
Finally, a plan to eradicate the invasive species needs to be developed. As the old saying goes, this is a “tough row to hoe.”
It is unlikely that this will happen without the active participation of Miami-Dade County and the continued activism of the Miami Pine Rocklands Association.
As unlikely as it may seem today, I am hopeful that a way forward can be found.
Terry Edwards, Miami