[The Committee] accepts the Study identifying approximately 2,146 acres within the unincorporated municipal service area (UMSA), which lie entirely in Commission District 9 represented by Commissioner Dennis C. Moss, to be slum and blighted.
Miami-Dade Legislative Item 142509
This month a Miami-Dade county committee approved a resolution from county commissioner Dennis Moss to designate the Richmond Heights pine rocklands (the largest fragement of pine rocklands outside the Everglades National Park and the only habitat of the Miami tiger beetle) along with the surrounding lands “a slum or blighted area.” This resolution stemmed from a county-commitioned study supplied by the firm Calvin, Giordano & Associates which built a tenuous case that slum or blight conditions exist in and around the Richmond Heights pine rocklands. The Committee forwarded the resolution to the full Board of County Commissioners for consideration:
It is recommended that the Board of County Commissioners … consider taking the following actions:
4. The Board declares and finds that there is a need for a community redevelopment agency to function and carry out the community redevelopment purposes of the Act; and
5. The Board directs the County Mayor or the County Mayor’s designee to prepare a plan of redevelopment for the Area, and to submit the plan of redevelopment to the Board for approval after notice and public hearing.
Should a community redevelopment agency be created, the Area covered will make it the second largest in the County, with only the North Miami Community Redevelopment Agency larger at 3,540 acres. The Study includes the Zoo Miami, Coast Guard, and the former University of Miami properties.
Miami-Dade Legislative Item 142509
The goal in establishing the existence of slum or blight conditions and subsequent community redevelopment agency (CRA) is to create a special tax district¹ which will channel public funds into development of the site. The development in question is the $930 million theme park, Miami Wilds. As I have written previously the construction of this theme park (in its present incarnation) is a serious and unacceptable threat to the Richmond Heights pine rocklands and the survival of numerous endangered species, including the Miami tiger beetle, a candidate for emergency state and federal protection.
The developers, Miami Wilds LLC, have already received approval for an initial $13.5 million in bond funds to replicate the US Coast Guard communications tower array which currently stands in the footprint of the theme park. However, use of this land requires Federal permission and approval of the developer’s plans; approval which has not yet been given.
The Richmond Heights pine rocklands have survived comparatively unscathed since the since the early development of the site in the 1940s and these lands represent a major portion of the 1.8% of pine rocklands left outside the Everglades National Park. Any further development seriously jeopardizes the rocklands, chiefly by fragmenting the remaining habitat and stifling fires, a necessary ecological cycle for the continued health of the habitats.
Proper management of pine rockland fragments includes prescribed burning (which can generate heavy amounts of smoke)… Construction of hospitals, schools, apartments, and hotels around [rocklands] should be discouraged because of conflicts with smoke generation during prescribed fires. URS Corporation et al 2007
These current plans for Miami Wilds and Coral Reef Commons will severely fragment the remaining Richmond Heights pine rocklands. Once these rocklands are surrounded by heavy development any prescribed burning will be extraordinarily unlikely.
… maximize open space and limit pollution runoff [around rocklands]. URS Corporation et al 2007
A secondary impact of any development is that without sufficient buffer areas around the rocklands the new fragments will be highly susceptible to pollution and encroachment of non-native and invasive animals and plants from the surrounding.
The current plans for development do not adequately conserve these imperiled rocklands and are not a reasonable option for the continued survival of this unique habitat and its inhabitants. Over 98% of the Miami-Dade rocklands have been lost to development. There are better options for utilization of the non-rockland areas, options which do not fragment or destroy rocklands, alternatives which provide adequate buffers to facilitate the necessary management of the habitat.
The “blight” resolution has been forwarded to the Board of County Commissioners for consideration and a full public hearing on January 21st.
Local residents are planning a rally for the rocklands on January 17th
The Center for Biological Diversity has a letter to the Miami Board of County Commissioners which you can sign and send in support of preserving the pine rocklands.
Also see the Miami Herald article on the this latest development.
¹In designating an area as a CRA governing bodies are afforded the opportunity to leverage public financing for the purpose of land acquisition, demolition, housing and infrastructure improvements, environmental remediation, neighborhood enhancement and other similar activities. This is accomplished through a funding mechanism known as Tax Increment Financing (TIF). From MetroZoo Finding of Necessity Study 2014 Update
URS Corporation, The Institute for Regional Conservation, and Muller and Associates, Inc. 2007. Miami Dade County Environmentally Endangered Lands Program Management Plan, Part II: Management of specific habitat types, Chapter 1: The pine rockland habitat. Submitted to Environmentally Endangered Lands Program, Miami, Florida by URS Corporation. K.A. Bradley, G.D. Gann, M.J. Barry, contributors.
Carl Linnaeus (or his ennobled name Carl von Linné or the latinate Carolus Linnaeus) laid the foundations for binomial nomenclature, modern taxonomy, and recognized the tiger beetles as a distinct group. As with much of Linnaeus’ writing the description of the genus is in Latin; in the first edition of Systema Naturae he erected the genus Cicindela, noting that unique appearance of the clypeus and the prominent mandibles.
From the publication of Systema Naturae and through subsequent editions until his death Linnaeus described eight tiger beetle species. While the species came from Europe, North America, and South Africa Linnaeus placed all eight species in the genus Cicindela. Later workers have dispersed these species across five genera and ajoined numerous subspecies since Linnaeus’ death in 1778.
Cephalota maura (Linnaeus, 1758)
Cicindela campestris Linnaeus, 1758
Cicindela hybrida Linnaeus, 1758
Cicindela sylvatica Linnaeus, 1758
Cylindera germanica (Linnaeus, 1758)
Tetracha carolina (Linnaeus 1767)
Tetracha virginica (Linnaeus, 1767)
Habrodera capensis (Linnaeus, 1764)
Pearson, D. L., Cassola, F., 2005. A quantitative analysis of species descriptions of tiger beetles (Coeloptera: Cicindelidae), from 1758 to 2004, and notes about related developments in biodiversity studies. The Coleopterologists Bulletin, 59(2): 184-193.
This intricate figure depicts larvae from several of the genera of tiger beetles which occur in the United States. The amount of work to compile these illustrations and achieve such detail is simply mind numbing to think about!
Hamilton, C. C. 1925. Studies on the morphology, taxonomy and ecology of the larvae of Holarctic tiger beetles (family Cicindelidae). Proceedings of the United States National Museum 65, Article 17: 1-87.
Perhaps the single largest collection of tiger beetle images on the web, the group Cicindelephilia on flickr boasts an impressive nearly 1,400 images from over a hundred members.
With images from all over the world this collection of photos has everything from the ordinary to the exotic – some eye candy for all tiger beetle enthusiasts so go check it out!