Saving S. Dade wetlands will require close attention

Vice Mayor, Cutler Bay There has been great interest as to where South Dade is on the C o m p r e h e n s i v e Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). The following is an excerpt from a meeting I attended on Apr. 21 at the Deering Estate.


The overall project will restore the distribution of freshwater flows to southern Biscayne Bay, including Biscayne National Park, improving salinity distribution near the shoreline.

It will enhance ecological health by helping to reestablish productive near shore habitat, including nursery habitat for shrimp, shellfish and fish. The project also will provide improved recreational and educational opportunities in Biscayne Bay and adjacent wetlands. A key component of the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands Project-Phase 1 includes construction of the Deering Estate Flow-way, a South Florida Water Management District investment of nearly $4.2 million. Other project components are construction of the Cutler Wetlands Flow-Way and L-31E Culverts.

We in South Dade need to pay close attention to these projects, which will involve the Army Corps of Engineers, South Florida Water Management, Miami-Dade County and the Biscayne National Park Service. An example is this Phase 1. As I listened to the Corps discuss the project, I was transported back in time to my youth, when I walked much of the wetlands that were spoken of.

I recalled seeing large oak trees (18 feet in diameter), mounds of oyster shells left on the river bank by long ago native residents, I assumed were Tequesta’s that inhabited our coast line, and an abundance of 18th and 19th Century hand-blown bottles discarded by passing wooden sailing ships of the day. A young boy’s mangrove wonderland of beauty with an imagination of pirates (which did traverse our coast) and booty left behind to explore.

It is South Dade’s turn to have our coastline and wetlands restored, reducing and reversing the damage our canals and drainage systems have caused. I applaud the Herculean effort being made. I was even more pleased to learn (from a subsequent inquiry I made) that Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden was working with the county to quantify and catalog the vegetation in this very large area in Phase 1. My correspondence with Joyce Maschinski from Fairchild left me feeling more secure about the future of this project. The topography of the property was explained in detail enough to me that I knew for sure the land had been walked, for I recall in detail the same description.

There is much more to this project that each of us should pay very close attention to. When these meetings are held here in Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay, we should do our best to attend. It is about the great future of our communities. I will keep up with the project thanks to the U.S. Army Corps, SFWMD and Miami-Dade’s eagerness to make our community a part of the solution. It should be an example of how government should communicate with the people. But make no mistake, we will always be watching.

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