Energy & Environment

Rare Miami forest poised to be bulldozed for Walmart development

A rare forest in Florida that is home to more than 20 endangered species of animals and plants is poised to be transformed into a Walmart-anchored shopping center after activists recently lost a legal battle to save the land from corporate development, the Miami Herald reports.

According to the newspaper, the development will take up 138 acres of Miami-Dade's pine rockland, which has been reduced to about 2 percent of its original size in recent years because of deforestation for other projects.

The news comes after activists lost a years-long fight to save the land in court last week. A judge reportedly dismissed a lawsuit brought by a group of activists in 2017 challenging the development over what they called a failure to adequately notify the public of a rezoning hearing on the large-scale project.

"The notice was far from adequate, and I wonder if the lack of critical information wasn't an attempt to mislead the public about the project,'' Kent Harrison Robbins, an attorney representing the activists, reportedly said after a hearing last month.

However, that lawsuit was struck down on Friday after attorneys representing the developer of the project, Ram Realty, argued that the activists didn't have standing on the issue given that they resided outside of the areas that would be affected by the project, the paper reports. 

Peter Cummings, founder of the realty company that acquired the land in 2013, said that he was "pleased" with the legal outcome.

He also said his company would continue to work on the development and added that he will be working to with local authorities to preserve small parts of the land.

According to the Miami Herald, only 3,000 acres of the forest, which once reportedly stretched 55 miles, remains. The forest is reportedly home to a number protected species of animals and plants, including rare butterflies and the rare tiger beetle, which was rediscovered in the forest in 2017 after decades of going unseen.

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