I would like to take this opportunity to invite anyone interested in West Matheson Hammock Park to a community meeting on April 5 at 6 p.m. at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. We want to hear from you!
For those who have been following the proposed plans for the park, this is an opportunity to hear from Miami-Dade County environmental experts their suggestions for how we can balance the management of environmentally threatened lands ( EEL) in or adjacent to Miami-Dade County parks. .
As you may know, various residents have raised objections to aspects of a proposed plan for West Matheson which included repairs to the parking lot, the addition of a walk through hammock and a fenced-in dog park. One of the most compelling questions raised by residents concerned the potential environmental impacts of the plan originally proposed nearly two years ago under a different administration.
As a result of reviewing these concerns and learning about the history and natural resources of the park, I have formally requested our Division of Environmental Resource Management (DERM) to intervene before any plans come to fruition. continues. After months of review, the division released a report suggesting a coordinated approach to how the county balances two critically important values we all share – public access to and enjoyment of our parks and protection of our environmental resources and habitat that we have designated as endangered. .
EEL properties in or adjacent to the parks represent approximately ten percent of the 27,000 acres the county has designated for acquisition, preservation, restoration and maintenance under this important program. Voters approved the program in 1990 thanks to the advocacy of one of the county’s environmental legends and our current clerk, Harvey Ruvin.
The report makes more than a dozen general recommendations for how the county should consider improvements and potential uses of these delicate lands in and around our parks. These include:
- Avoid and minimize infrastructure improvements and amenities that could damage sensitive habitat or wildlife
- Limit the use of vehicles and heavy equipment on sensitive terrain and better delineate where lines are for daily maintenance and park crews
- Better control of certain recreational uses (camping, off-roading, games) that can directly damage habitat and/or displace wildlife, including the use of buffer zones, signage and enforcement
- Removal of unauthorized trails, reduction of light pollution sources and pesticides
- Prevent the spread of alien plant and animal species
- Reduce potential impacts of domestic animals on sensitive wildlife and habitat
These general recommendations may have potential management considerations in various parks that contain EEL properties, but would be implemented based on the specific conditions of those parks. Overall, the obvious challenge is to develop better education and communication between our departments and with the general public.
It’s about balancing two incredible strengths. Our parks system is among the best in the nation, dramatically enhancing the quality of life and sense of community for every neighborhood in Miami-Dade County. The EEL program is a generational legacy that we pass on to our children and grandchildren.
What does this mean for West Matheson Hammock Park? Well, that’s why we want to meet the community.
I am proud to work hand in hand with the DERM, with Parks, with Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and with the community to find a strategy we can live with. We can do it and do it right.
So come tell us what you think. We’re listening.
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