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article imageSaving the Miami tiger beetle — Going up against a retail giant

By Karen Graham     Dec 18, 2014 in Environment
Miami - On Thursday, environmentalists made a desperate bid to save a rare, and once thought to be extinct beetle living in one little corner of the Earth. The Miami tiger beetle is only found in the Richmond pine rocklands in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
The Center for Biological Diversity, the South Florida Wildlands Association, the Tropical Audubon Society and a number of other groups have gone up against retail giant Walmart's plans for a huge mixed-use development in southern Miami. The area in question is the last, and largest tract of pine rockland outside Everglades National Park.
Pine Rocklands are today the most endangered ecosystem in South Florida and require a certain flame ...
Pine Rocklands are today the most endangered ecosystem in South Florida and require a certain flame to keep them alive.
Tropical Audubon
Environmentalist's request to the Department of the Interior to declare the Miami tiger beetle endangered comes at a time when the federal agency is already dealing with a backlog of over 750 species being considered for classification as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.
At the center of the request for an endangered status designation is a controversial project that includes 408 apartments, and 205,000 square feet of retail space that would include Walmart, LA Fitness, Chili's, Panera Bread and a Starbucks. In addition to this development, 20th Century Fox is planning to build yet another theme park, "Miami Wilds" in Zoo Miami, adjacent to the proposed development.
The diversity of life in the pine rocklands habitat is amazing.
The diversity of life in the pine rocklands habitat is amazing.
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Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director and staff attorney for the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity, released a statement saying “This amazing, gem-like creature, once thought to be extinct, was only recently rediscovered. Now the only place on Earth it’s known to occupy is threatened with a shopping mall featuring a Walmart and yet another Florida theme park.”
The Miami tiger beetle is a small, iridescent member of the genus Cicindela. The beetles were first discovered in the 1930s, and then were not seen again until 2007 in the Richmond Heights area in Miami, Florida. The beetles are so named for their aggressive behavior in stalking their prey, and they are undoubtedly some of the fastest creatures on Earth.
The pine rocklands are home to a number of endangered species  both flora and fauna  found nowhere e...
The pine rocklands are home to a number of endangered species, both flora and fauna, found nowhere else in the world.
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Their habitat consists of small, sandy areas of pine rockland. Pine rocklands are generally found amid limestone outcroppings with Florida slash pines as the only canopy. But there is a diversity of undergrowth of shrubs and herbs to be found. As a matter of fact, the area under threat of development is also home to several other endangered species, including the Florida bonneted bat, Carter’s small-flowered flax, Florida brickell-bush, Bartram’s scrub-hairstreak butterfly, and the Florida leafwing butterfly,
The 88 acres being used for the development was purchased from the University of Miami by Ram Realty this year for a cool $22 million. UofM had been using the property for research for years. Peter Cummings, the president of Ram Realty has vowed to make at least a third of the planned development into four preserves. “We think we have an opportunity to create a standard for new knowledge for the balance of the Richmond pine rockland,” he told an angry meeting of homeowners recently.
But we all know what will happen, folks. With all those apartments and shoppers, plus another, God forbid, theme park, the supposed nature preserves will be lost and trampled under by a mass stampede of humanity. And besides this obvious reason, according to the latest revelation from numerous studies by climate experts, Miami and other parts of southern Florida are already threatened by rising sea levels. So what's the point of building another shopping mall?
More about Miami florida, Miami tiger beetle, Walmart, massive mixeduse development, endangered species act protection
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