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Front Page » Top Stories » Endangered Miami Tiger beetle endangers Miami Wilds

Endangered Miami Tiger beetle endangers Miami Wilds

Written by on October 4, 2016
Endangered Miami Tiger beetle endangers Miami Wilds

The US Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday announced it was listing the Miami tiger beetle as endangered, meaning the beetle is in danger of extinction now or in the foreseeable future. The announcement comes in the wake of a nearly three-year review of the beetle’s possible habitat and threatens the development of the proposed Miami Wilds theme park.

The listing of the Miami tiger beetle as endangered becomes effective Nov. 4, exactly 30 days after its Oct. 5 publication in the Federal Register.

Considered to be extinct until 2007 when a small population was discovered near Zoo Miami, the beetle is now only known to survive in two separate populations in Miami’s disappearing pine rocklands.

The first location is the Richmond Pine Rocklands and the second location, which is three miles away and separated by urban development, was discovered in 2015.

The Richmond Pine Rocklands is a mixture of publically and privately owned land that retains the largest area of contiguous pine rockland habitat outside of Everglades National Park.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service began a review of the Miami tiger beetle’s status and threats in early 2014, according to a statement received Tuesday from the service.

In December 2014, the service received a petition requesting that the Miami tiger beetle be emergency listed as endangered and that critical habitat be designated under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Now that Miami tiger beetles will be listed and protected, federal agencies are required under the Endangered Species Act to consult with the service and consider the impacts to the species before taking an action, including land development or management, the statement said.

According to the service, critical habitat designation for the Miami tiger beetle is not part of the proposal at this time but will be proposed later in a separate action. The service anticipates proposing critical habitat for the Miami tiger beetle by September 2017.

Miami Wilds LLC, a proposed theme park at Zoo Miami, might face possible restrictions on development due to the beetle’s endangered listing. However, the land has not been fully surveyed for the beetle, so potential impacts to the species and its habitat cannot be fully assessed.

The land itself is currently government-owned US Coast Guard land and would only become part of the Miami Wilds project if the Coast Guard were to sell or transfer the land, as is planned.

Both the Coast Guard and Zoo Miami land have pine rocklands, so the sale or transfer of the land and would be reviewed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service under the National Environmental Policy Act. Surveys at the Coast Guard property are underway.

“The Miami tiger beetle is one of the smallest tiger beetles in the US,” said Larry Williams, Florida state supervisor for the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

“It’s less than half an inch long and is actually a pretty fierce predator,” Mr. Williams said. “It preys on other insects… [and has] well developed jaws. It’s originally known from a single specimen collected 70 years ago.”

The beetle has a distinctive shiny dark green dorsal surface.

“We are listing the beetle to ensure its continued survival and conserve its shrinking habitat,” said Cindy Dohner, the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southeast regional director, in a statement.

“All information available to us when we proposed the tiger beetle for listing was carefully considered. We are working closely with prospective developers and key stakeholders in Miami-Dade County to ensure that the Miami tiger beetle is considered in development or management plans.”

Miami tiger beetles need bare or sparsely vegetated, sandy habitat patches that are found within pine rockland habitat to survive. Habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation have destroyed about 98% of the historical pine rockland habitat in Miami-Dade.

“When a federal agency like the Coast Guard is proposing any kind of official action, they have to consult with us,” Mr. Williams said. “So before the Coast Guard would transfer land out of Coast Guard ownership… by law they have to consult with us.”

“Basically, they have to get a permit to do that, and unless we approve it, it can’t happen.”

Another possibility, however, is that a conservation deed could accompany the land transfer, essentially meaning that because of the deed, the new land owner would be unable to develop it.

Paul Lambert, an official of Miami Wilds LLC, previously told Miami Today that project partners had been anticipating the listing of the beetle as endangered and were evaluating a two-phased approach.

Phase I of the project could take place within existing county property and include a water park, limited lodging and some retail, he said then, and Phase II could include development on the Coast Guard land and include the theme park.

“As a stand-alone project, it’s still viable as long as Phase I doesn’t fall within the boundary of the endangered species, so for the portion on county-owned land, we’ll only build on zoo property that’s paved or mowed,” he said.

However, according to the service, based upon available information to date, it appears that the proposed developments would have impacts on suitable or potentially suitable beetle habitat.

Mr. Williams said that in similar cases of endangered species and development issues, developers have been able to get permits to develop one-third of the land and conserve the remaining two-thirds with better management.

“That’s what we shoot for, to make the habitat and status of the species better,” he said.

The Miami Wilds project made changes to avoid negatively impacting the protected species and has no intention of disturbing the beetle’s habitat, Mr. Lambert previously told Miami Today.

5 Responses to Endangered Miami Tiger beetle endangers Miami Wilds

  1. DC Copeland

    October 5, 2016 at 7:15 am

    Good to hear. The last thing we need is a “Miami Wilds” which is, if anything, a sad ironic joke.

  2. al sunshine

    October 5, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Once again, your one sided story based on official press releases and developers statements fails to include the 3 yer public effort to Save the Richmond Pine Rocklands for future Generations and not bulldoze and asphalt it over. It’s a globally imperiled habitat, the biggest Pine Rocklands remaining in So Fla. outside of Everglades Nat’l park and must be saved as a “Lifeboat Habitat” with just 1.8% of the Pine Rocklands Remaining here according to Federal Researchers. You also fail to report the 2006 Miami Dade Referendum approving the project specifically EXCLUDES ANY environmentally sensitive lands..much less federally Designated Endangered Habitat that’s home to more than a dozen rare or threatened species like the Miami Tiger Beetle. We deserve and demand better reporting than just Govt. Press Releases and PR Spin from developers. PLEASE contact me for anymore information on our efforts to stop the destruction of Americas’ last Pine Rocklands. Yes, they are found NOWHERE ELSE but South Florida.

  3. Cully Waggoner

    October 5, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Perhaps if Camila Cepero of Miami Today had done a little more research she would have found out a few more very interesting things that the media does very little publish.

    Let’s start with Miami-Dade County that never met a Developer it didn’t like and want to give Tax Breaks to. At least $130 million dollars in Tax Breaks to Miami Wilds, which included the County paying for the little things like Road and Infrastructure Improvement and the Land that Miami Wilds would be built on. The County came up with 13.5 million for the Coast Guard to move the antennas and they said No and the funds were appropriated for something, like maybe another sports stadium.

    Then the County quietly bought Southern Anchor. Southern Anchor was USCG housing before HFA Miami took it over for their program for new homeowners. The County has now bought it and is slowly making people move from there when their term is up so the County can then give it to Miami Wilds so they can pave it over for a Theme Park.

    In fact, Miami Wilds LLC owns NO land at Richmond, nor have they presented formal plans, site surveys, drawings or anything other than a slick brochure presentation. They are counting on the County to give them the land they need and put the Water Park on which is current Zoo Parking and part of the Gold Coast Railroad’s south edge. There are already Water Mains out there in the woods.

    Speaking of infrastructure, the County is laying down new Water Pipe they say is for all the development west along Coral Reef Drive. The fact that these pipes run right by where they want to build not only Miami Wilds, but Coral Reef Commons, yet another Walmart Superstore anchoring a retail center and 900 residential apartment complex right next to the Zoo Entrance.

    Never mind the Fact that SW 152 Street, Coral Reef Drive currently handles 60,000 cars per day and a Walmart and a Theme Park will easily add 30,000 more cars daily on a road than CANNOT be expanded or modified to handle it. Then again the County for the last 20 years has not be able to get SW 127 Ave to cross the CSX Railroad Tracks near SW 144 Street, so that residents might have more than one way in and out of their homes.

    So, sadly once again Miami Today publishes an article that is little more than a Press Release for Miami Wilds. Perhaps your next article will document all the water parks, or parks with water park features we ALREADY have in Miami-Dade County let alone South Florida and ask WHY do we need ANOTHER one?

    For the record, the Miami Tiger Beetle has been found and documented living near the area Miami Wilds wants to build the Hotel and hospitality space, on the former NAS Richmond Hangar 3 footprint at Richmond. However, it is NOT the only Endangered Species on the Richmond site. More than a dozen species of plants and animals call the Richmond Pine Rocklands their home. It is a Lifeboat Habitat for them and they need to be saved.

    We don’t need another Water Park, we have several others already. We don’t need another Walmart as we have plenty of them too, in fact there are TWO within 5 miles of the site. What we do need is our elected officials to stop sucking up to the developers and letting them run rampant paving over all of the County.

    Commissioner Moss will say we need more jobs, but more than 80% of these jobs will be minimum wage dead end jobs. These jobs and the limited tax revenue they create will not offset the $130 million dollars the County wants to waste on just Miami Wilds, let alone any money they will toss at Coral Reef Commons. Now that’s a story you should think about publishing.

    Cully Waggoner
    Vice President
    Miami Pine Rocklands Coalition

  4. Pablo Whiz

    October 7, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    All this to protect a bug that if we saw flying in our house we would probably just squash it with our shoe? I understand if it was a animal like a bird, panther, bear, fish or etc. But an insect? I don’t agree with making such a big deal over an insect but there are always people that find a fault in everything. Just like I am finding a fault in this reasoning…LOL It is what makes the world go round is having different opinions.

  5. al sunshine

    October 7, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    Hi Pablo,
    I respect your opinion greatly.
    My point is NOT wether the bug should be protected, but the last 2% of a dying habitat that once covered most of South Fiorida and is the last home to more than a dozen rare plants and animals our children and grandchildren have a right to see. Also, from a story standpoint, NONE of this was mentioned in the article despite our repeated efforts to get another side into this continuing coverage. By the way, unless you live in the middle of an endangered habitat in the last 2% of Miami’ Pine Rocklands, you’d NEVER have a Miami Tiger Beetle flying in your house. Again, I respect your opinion and only ask to respect ours too and demand better reporting on this important issue.