Yesterday, November 4th 2016, endangered species status for the Miami tiger beetle (Cicindelidia floridana) became effective. This diminutive species is only found in pine rocklands, once ubiquitous in south Florida. However, due to extensive urbanization and agricultural development a majority of this habitat has been destroyed. Today a fraction – only 1.8% -of the pine rocklands in metro Miami-Dade county are left.The remaining pine rocklands have survived comparatively unscathed throughout the extensive agricultural and urban developments in south Florida. But the largest contiguous tract of pine rocklands in Miami-Dade, site of the Miami tiger beetle rediscovery, is in immediate danger of further development in the form of Coral Reef Commons, a private mixed-use development, and Miami Wilds, a sprawling theme park.
Any further development will seriously jeopardize the rocklands and their inhabitants by severely fragmenting the habitat and stifling the cycle of bush fires key to the maintenance and survival of pine rocklands.
There are numerous, prime locations for a new Walmart or a massive theme park in the county, outside of these last remaining pine rocklands. Let’s restore and preserve the undeveloped and neglected pine rocklands of Miami-Dade; this habitat and its occupants are a unique and valuable part of Florida’s natural history and character.
On December 18th 2015, over a full year and seven days after a listing petition to protect the Miami tiger beetle (Cicindela floridana) was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, advocacy groups, and several individuals (including myself),the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced their proposal for the listing of the Miami tiger beetle as endangered.
In a press release Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity said:
Watching the Miami tiger beetle forage, with its shiny, iridescent body and lightning-quick legs, is mesmerizing. Endangered Species Act protection will help ensure the beetle’s rare pine rockland hunting grounds remain intact in the face of ever-pressing development.
The USFWS proposed listing could have significant impacts on the potential developments in the Richmond Heights pine rocklands, home of this beetle.
With the USFWS’s announcement a public comment period is open until February 22 and a public hearing is scheduled on January 13th at Miami-Dade College, Kendall Campus.