Walmart planned for endangered forest lands in South Florida – ‘You wonder how things end up being endangered? This is how.’Posted by Jim at Monday, July 21, 2014
By Jenny Staletovich
13 July 2014
(Miami Herald) – 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.
Ram also plans to develop 35 adjacent acres still owned by the university.
But with less than 2 percent of the vast savanna that once covered South Florida’s spiny ridge remaining, the deal has left environmentalists and biologists scratching their heads.
“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.
Ram, which has built dozens of strip shopping centers and dense residential projects across Florida and the Southeast, chose the land at Coral Reef Drive and Southwest 127th Avenue because it provided a “unique chance to create … a place where people can easily walk from the neighborhood to shops and elsewhere,” CEO Casey Cummings said in a written response to questions.
The site also provided easy access to highways and jobs, and met a growing demand for “high-quality rental housing, shopping, fitness and dining options,” he said.
Cummings pointed out that the company could have built even more housing — 1,200 apartments — and added 70,000 square feet of retail space to the 300,000 it has planned. [more]
By Jameson Parker
16 July 2014
(AddictingInfo.org) – A pristine patch of Florida forest, the home to dozens of animals species that biologists say are found no where else on the planet, will be bulldozed to make room for a Wal-Mart shopping center.
The 88 acres of rockland was sold by the University of Miami to a developer working for Wal-Mart who plans to build the retail store as well as a Chick-fil-A and Chili’s restaurant. As a concession the firm says it will set aside around 40 acres next to the store that can remain for the animals.
Florida was once a vast savanna, dotted with deep, ancient forests. Today, less than 2 percent of that habitat remains. Consequently, the plants, animals and insects that used to thrive there have been decimated. Environmentalists say that this latest commercial development might be the killing blow for many of them. […]
Many of the flora and fauna now almost extinct once dominated most of Florida, but the grind of urban sprawl has seen nearly every untouched forest in the state destroyed. In a way, this 88 acres was the final stand – the last, desperate stab at survival for animals which have literally no where else on Earth to go.
One species the country doesn’t need more of is Wal-Mart. The corporation has over 4,000 stores in the United States and nearly 200 in Florida alone. It’s likely – should the deal go through – that developers will move quickly to build as soon as possible. Construction teams are in a race against time. Every month more wildlife is uncovered in the land they propose to destroy, and it is getting harder to claim it was worth it or that they didn’t know. […]
So this is the crossroads we find ourselves in. Are we a country that wants discounted clothing and cheap chicken sandwiches so badly that we are willing to lose some of nature’s most beautiful creatures to get it? And if so, what does that say about us as a society? [more]