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Front Page » Top Stories » Us Rejects Miami Circle For Protected Status

Us Rejects Miami Circle For Protected Status

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Written by on March 22, 2007

The Miami Circle project may be back on track but headed in a different direction after a recommendation by the federal government that the site should not be part of Biscayne National Park, as proposed.

With the National Parks Service apparently unwilling to take control, management of the Circle, just east of the Brickell Bridge, could end up with the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, federal and state officials say.

The decision is not written in stone but is likely to be adopted as part of a draft of a feasibility study authorized by the federal government to assess management options and their respective environmental impacts.

Copies of the draft have been sent to private and public organizations including homeowners associations, archeological and preservation organizations and Native American tribes, who are being asked to comment before the study is sent to Congress.

The federal government recommended that the site not be put under federal management because it is a cultural site and not a natural one, as required by the National Park Service.

"Now we go to Plan B," said Ryan Wheeler, chief of the state’s archeological bureau. "The (Historical) Museum of Southern Florida wants to be involved and is already studying the possibility of entering an agreement to manage the park."

"We are evaluating participation," said Jorge Zamanillo, curator for the museum. "This is a unique archeological site, one of a kind. It may have been a ceremonial site or chieftain dwelling just across the mouth of the river from an also-ancient Tequesta settlement."

Noted for their skill in building strong, sturdy canoes, the Tequesta people navigated Biscayne Bay — some say they may have traveled as far as Cuba. Many carving utensils such as shells and other sharp materials have been found at the edge of the river.

The Historical Museum, in Cultural Center Plaza in downtown Miami, features an exhibit highlighting Miami Circle artifacts uncovered in 1999, when excavations began.

The Circle is concealed in lime rock as a preservation measure. Land access could be blocked until 2009, when the construction of a building next-door is scheduled for completion, Mr. Wheeler said. "Still, there might just be a possibility of building an access station on the river by which visitors could reach the park by boat," he said.