Environment

Got an opinion about the Walmart in pine rockland? Two meetings coming up

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is taking public comment on a conservation plan to allow the construction of a shopping center and 900 apartments on rare pine rockland near Zoo Miami until May 22.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is taking public comment on a conservation plan to allow the construction of a shopping center and 900 apartments on rare pine rockland near Zoo Miami until May 22. Miami Herald Staff

Controversial plans to build a Walmart-anchored shopping center and apartments in a rare tract of pine rockland are on the agenda for two upcoming meetings.

On Tuesday, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez will update commissioners on a recently released conservation plan during the board’s regular meeting. The public can comment at 9:30 a.m. A week later, critics will host a forum, prompted after federal wildlife officials said they would convene an online webinar but not host a public meeting.

The conservation plan, released earlier this month following nearly three years of surveys and revisions, is now being considered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Service is accepting comments online at crc_hcp@fws.gov and by mail through May 22.

The project, a 289,000-square foot shopping center and 900 apartments on a 138-acre patch of the disappearing forest near Zoo Miami triggered angry protests when plans surfaced more than three years ago after the University of Miami sold the land. The land sits on the largest remaining tract of rockland outside Everglades National Park and has long been targeted by environmentalists for conservation. The forest can only be found in parts of Miami-Dade County and the Keys, is considered globally imperiled and is home to at least eight different endangered species.

Tropical Audubon will host the April 25 meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. at the Deering Estate in Cutler Bay.

Follow Jenny Staletovich on Twitter @jenstaletovich

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