Protect Rare Habitat From Development

pine-rocklands-MiguelV

Target: Florida Governor Rick Scott

Goal: Save unique ecosystem and the species that depend on it from imminent extinction.

One of the last tracts of a rare and biologically diverse ecosystem is slated to be destroyed by development. The pine rocklands are an intricate landscape unique to southern Florida and the Bahamas. They are a mixture of pines, palms, and endemic plants on limestone substrates. The rocklands provide habitat for an assortment of both tropical and temperate species, including five federally listed animals. The lands are even home to a rare tiger beetle thought to be extinct until 2007.

Much of the pine rocklands have already been destroyed by development, agriculture, fire suppression, and invasive species. This specific parcel of land, known as the Richmond tract, is the last intact area of pine rocklands outside of Everglades National Park. It was given to the University of Miami for free by the U.S. government. The university decided in 2014 to turn around and sell the parcel to a development company for $22 million, enraging environmentalists. The developers intend to build a large strip mall complex, including a Walmart, Chick-fil-A, and various other businesses. An adjacent chunk of pine rocklands owned by Miami-Dade county is also the site of a future theme park.

Miami-Dade county currently has 43 Walmart stores, and the state of Florida already hosts dozens of theme parks. Replacing rare ecosystems with repetitive, uninspired urbanization will only serve to erode the natural beauty of the state. Urge the governor of Florida to halt the development of the pine rocklands and instead protect this rare habitat for future generations.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Governor Scott,

I am deeply troubled by the intention to develop some of the last tracts of rare pine rocklands in Florida. The Richmond tract and adjacent land owned by Miami-Dade county are the only areas of pine rocklands left outside Everglades National Park. This area is home to endemic plants, five federally listed animals, and numerous other rare species, including the recently rediscovered Miami tiger beetle.

These tracts of rare, unique habitat are slated to be turned into a Walmart shopping center and amusement park. The state of Florida already hosts 335 Walmart stores and dozens of theme parks. Is it really worth destroying a rare, ecologically diverse habitat for more of the same?

The character of your state comes from its unique climate, habitats, and flora and fauna–not strip malls and amusement parks. Many visitors to Florida come to take in the natural beauty of sandy beaches, impressive forests, and swampy everglades. Investing in the future of Florida’s natural resources far outweighs the benefits of further development. I urge you to please consider what the future of your state will look like if rampant, repetitive development continues. Please choose instead to protect the pine rocklands and halt development of the Richmond tract.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Miguel V

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