The Nature Conservancy launches effort to revitalize the banks of Wagner Creek

The Nature Conservancy launches effort to revitalize the banks of Wagner Creek

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The Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest conservation organization, is moving forward with its Wagner Creek Greenspace Project in the heart of Miami’s Health District (around NW 12th Avenue, north of the Miami River).

The Conservancy’s Cities Program, which implements projects that connect people with nature, provides stormwater runoff solutions, and enhances communities’ access to cleaner water and air, has committed to this revitalization to deliver multiple benefits to the community and waterway.

The organization launched the public input phase of project planning on Nov. 8 by hosting a public visioning workshop along the banks of Wagner Creek to welcome and engage community participation.

Working closely with Miami-Dade County and Jackson Health System, the Nature Conservancy has identified a section along Wagner Creek as a priority restoration area. The Conservancy is focused on improving quality of life in Miami by using the power of nature and greenspaces — nature-based solutions — to mitigate the impacts of natural hazards such as storm surge and flooding, to shade and cool the urban environment, and improve overall well-being.

The creation of multi-purpose green infrastructure in cities has shown to be immensely beneficial, and a renewed Wagner Creek can deliver these benefits to the Health District area workforce, visitors and residents.

The University of Miami, a major stakeholder in the Health District, and The Miami Foundation joined The Nature Conservancy as partners in the workshop, with the Miami Foundation providing financial support for the project through its Public Space Challenge grant and UM providing academic staff and students to facilitate the workshop. UM also provided the space for the event, which was held outside the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Professional Arts Center at 1150 NW 14 St., in the heart of the Health District.

“With continued growth in the Miami area and the natural hazards faced as a coastal city, it’s important that The Nature Conservancy focus on projects that improve greenspace and support natural systems,” said Temperince Morgan, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Florida. “We’re dedicated to conservation and resilience efforts in Miami and eager to bring the local community and stakeholders into the planning process to ensure the Wagner Creek Greenspace Project is a collaborative success.”

Once known as one of Florida’s most-polluted waterbodies, Wagner Creek is now undergoing a major cleanup, funded by the City of Miami and State of Florida, critical to the health of the waterway.

The Conservancy will build on the foundation and momentum created by improved water quality by creating new public greenspace along the banks of the creek that will provide the 100,000 people who live and work in the Health District a place to connect with nature.

The Nov. 8 visioning workshop was open free to the public and gave local residents and stakeholders an opportunity to share their ideas on the restoration project. Faculty and students from the University of Miami’s School of Architecture and Public Health and graduates from the Miller School of Medicine guided local participants through the workshop process, which took place from noon to 2 p.m. to facilitate lunchtime participation for area employees and event attendees from the Health District, Civic Center and nearby Allapattah neighborhood.

“We envision a good park or greenspace within walking distance of every Miamian. The Wagner Creek project helps make that a reality for those who live and work in the Health District,” said Stuart Kennedy, director of program strategy and innovation at the Miami Foundation. “It also helps add momentum to the county’s Parks and Open Spaces Master Plan, which seeks to link neighborhoods with lush blueways and greenways. Wagner Creek can be a catalytic step toward a more connected and cohesive Greater Miami community.”

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