Nature reclaims its land, but the fight is far from over

FIU Nature Reserve. Via FIU Flickr.

PantherNOW Editorial Board

The hugely debated creation of a waterpark near Zoo Miami is now considering “other sites,” as per Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. We celebrate the efforts of the environmentalists who made this happen – But the fight to protect Miami’s biodiversity still rages on.

Miami Wilds, the self-proclaimed “eco-sensitive” waterpark, brought many complications. Near the zoological park, the Florida bonneted bat, an endangered species, inhabits the Pine Rocklands surrounding it and the parking lot. Additionally, the Pine Rocklands are home to a uniquely beautiful plant community and wildlife that depends on periodic fires that help the habitat thrive. Without the fires, nature will reclaim its land and engulf Zoo Miami.

Considering the bonneted bat and the Pine Rocklands, it should’ve been clear that building a themed waterpark was a bad idea. Especially in a gentrified city, Miami owes its inhabitants, both humans and animals, the greenery it deserves.

Those who’ve lived in Miami for a long time will notice the difference from the 1990s to now. Back then, the city was only starting to urbanize, so there was no need for a multitude of skyscrapers. 

But Miami is now a booming city of opportunity, which invites people from all over the globe to stay here. Of course, that’s not a bad thing. This city welcomes all diversity, as history and art have shown us. 

But it also welcomes demand for more housing and activities for citizens to enjoy. However, this leaves the native animals and habitat unprotected and trampled on for trivial enjoyment – Like what we’re seeing now with the waterpark.

It’s the reason why we praise the success brought by environmentalists this week. A decision like the one to relocate the site may seem minimal, but it’s one step toward protecting the air we breathe and the animals we share our habitats with.

But more needs to be done. There are environmental issues in Miami that go unnoticed.

For example, the extreme heat makes us dread going to campus or even the beach. It’s gotten so bad that the heat has killed farmers – people with families and goals – for staying under the sun for too long. And it will continue to do so if the city continues building skyscrapers and demolishing parks or places full of greenery that protect us from the sun.

Adding more lanes at the entrance to the Biscayne Bay Campus is also an example of something that may seem helpful at first but can be damaging after the fact. Especially with the congestion of cars that flood 151st Street, the construction process will tear down valuable trees in the area to invite even more cars. 

We wonder why they can’t build a large sidewalk to make the passage to BBC walkable and inviting instead of daunting. 

For every environmental problem, proper solutions are ignored for the greed of building something “bigger and better.” We invite the Miami Building Department to look into ways to incorporate trees and greenery into their plans for the city because we cannot allow people, the environment and native wildlife to continue suffering over a fixable problem.

For the sake of a greener Florida, we must continue fighting to protect our land.

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