I care about this project because it’s my backyard.” – Wildlife photographer Luca Martinez
Nearly 20 years after Miami Wilds water theme park gained initial approval, the battle to save the critically imperiled pine rocklands has reached a critical point. The proposed theme park could be approved by Miami-Dade’s county commissioners as early as this week, and with it destruction of the pine rocklands. This ecosystem is home to hundreds of rare and endangered flora and fauna found nowhere else on Earth. In fact, over 100 at-risk species call this place their home.
A majority of these species are endemic to this part of Florida, meaning they cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Species like the Florida bonneted bat, hairstreak butterfly, Florida leafwing butterfly, Florida panther, Miami tiger beetle, gopher tortoise, and eastern bluebird are only a few of many whose habitat would be destroyed should this theme park be approved.
There is less than 5% of the original pine rocklands habitat left in Florida. Zoo Miami’s pine rocklands restoration program has made it their “responsibility to ensure that this special habitat exists for future generations.” But the Miami Wilds 27-acre project would reside within what remains of this fragile ecosystem, preventing any future conservation efforts.
Habitat loss poses the greatest threat to wildlife. Should the Miami Wilds theme park be approved the loss of foraging habitats for many creatures like the bonneted bat will push already endangered species further towards extinction.
The Miami Wilds project claims it would be beneficial to county residents because it would provide over 400 job opportunities. However, the plan fails to inform residents of the millions of taxpayers dollars that would be used to subsidize their environmentally disastrous project.
This project threatens to cause a ripple effect on imperiled species and surrounding ecosystems. We must stand up and protect the pine rocklands and the endangered species that call it home.