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Federal Wildlife Managers Clear Way For Walmart In Vanishing South Florida Forest

pine_rockland_forest.jpeg
Patrick Farell
/
Miami Herald
Conservationists had hoped to protect the 138 acres of pineland being targeted for a Walmart shopping center and apartments and restore it as they had nearby Larry and Penny Thompson Park. Conservationists had hoped to protect the 138 acres of pineland.

Federal wildlife managers on Tuesday cleared the way for a Walmart-anchored strip mall in one of the world’s rarest forests, a tract of vanishing pine rockland inhabited by butterflies, bats, snakes and fragile wildflowers found no place else.

In approving a conservation plan, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials said they do not expect the sprawling box store and mall, a parking lot or 900 apartments to threaten the survival of more than 20 endangered plants and animals — including the Miami tiger beetle — that live in the pineland. The approved plan divides what was once about 90 acres of forest scattered across 138 acres near Zoo Miami into two 20-plus acre preserves connected by a pathway, with the mall and apartments at the center.

The plan differs little from the proposal submitted by a Palm Beach County developer two years ago, despite more than 3,000 comments filed by critics with the agency during the review.

Read more from our news partner, the Miami Herald.