Miami Pine Rocklands Coalition

Why are we fighting to protect the Pine Rocklands?

Video Courtesy The Tropical Audubon Society 

Floriida leafwing photo courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/cotinis. This photo is available for media use.

Two Florida Butterflies Protected Under Endangered Species Act, 
Along With 22,100 Acres of Habitat

Butterflies Threatened by Walmart Development, Sea-level Rise

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— As part of an agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity to speed decisions to protect 757 imperiled species across the country, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today it will protect two south Florida butterflies under the Endangered Species Act, along with 22,100 acres of critical habitat. The protected habitat includes land in Miami-Dade County, where a developer wants to build a Walmart and a strip mall.

Today’s protections are for the Florida leafwing, a beautiful butterfly that looks like a dead leaf when at rest, and Bartram’s scrub-hairstreak, a medium-sized gray butterfly with delicate dashes of white and rust. Both butterflies have lost a significant amount of their pine rockland habitat due to development, and they are also now facing the serious and compounding threats of climate change.

“This is an important victory for these two struggling Florida butterflies,” said Jaclyn Lopez, a Florida-based attorney at the Center. “This designation should help protect the rare and disappearing pine rocklands that are important habitat for a host of Florida species.”

The Florida leafwing now only occurs in Everglades National Park, while Bartram’s scrub-hairstreak can be found in Big Pine Key, Everglades National Park and other areas of conservation land.

Today’s decision protects 10,561 acres of habitat the Florida leafwing butterfly and 11,539 acres for the Bartram’s scrub-hairstreak butterfly, all in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. This designation covers lands that are slated for development for a new strip mall featuring a Walmart, Chili’s and Chick-fil-A.

“The last thing these butterflies need is another strip mall smack in the middle of some of their most important habitat,” Lopez said.

In addition to declines due to habitat fragmentation and destruction, the butterflies are now direly threatened by sea-level rise. The best-case scenario projections for sea-level rise at Big Pine Key are for a rise of 7 inches, which would flood an estimated 34 percent of the island. The worst-case scenario projection is for 4.6 feet, which would put an astounding 96 percent of the Key underwater.

Both butterflies were first recognized as candidates for protection in 1984. The Fish and Wildlife Service removed them from the candidate list in 1996, and then added them again in 2006. In 2011 the Center and the Service reached a landmark agreement that will ensure all the species on the federal waiting list for protection as of 2010 will get decisions within the next four years. Ten Florida species have received final protection under the agreement, including the Miami blue butterfly, five freshwater mussels, Florida bonneted bat, Cape Sable thoroughwort, aboriginal prickly apple and Florida semaphore cactus. So far 128 species around the country have gained Endangered Species Act protection under the agreement, including the two butterflies, and another 15 have been proposed for protection.


Press Release Courtesy of The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 625,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. August 11th 2014

Photo by Kathleen Smith, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. This photo is available for media use.

Florida's Largest, Rarest Bat Secures Endangered Species Act Protection 

Once Common, Now Threatened by Sea-level Rise

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Endangered Species Act protection for the Florida bonneted bat today — the largest, rarest bat in the state. The Service delayed proposing lifesaving critical habitat for the species.

“Florida is lucky to have over a dozen species of bats that provide valuable ecosystem services like pest control,” said Jaclyn Lopez, a Center attorney based in Florida. “The sad irony with the Florida bonneted bat is that we caused its near extinction by exposing it to harmful pesticides. Now this unique bat is severely threatened by climate change.”

Open fresh water and wetlands provide prime foraging habitat for Florida bonneted bats, while trees and human-made structures are used for roosting. But the bats’ habitat is projected to experience sea-level rise of as much as 3 to 6 feet within this century, meaning that nine of the 11 roost site locations will be either fully or partially inundated. With even one foot of sea-level rise, four roost sites would be largely or completed inundated.

“We once thought these bats had gone extinct. We now have a second chance to help them recover and restore South Florida’s natural balance,” said Lopez. “We absolutely must protect habitat for these bats if they’re going to survive, including inland habitat to help them escape rising seas.”

The decision is a result of a historic settlement agreement signed with the Center for Biological Diversity that requires expedited decisions on protection for 757 plants and animals around the country.


Press Release Courtesy of The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 625,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. October 1st 2013

Frank Ridgley, head of conservation and research at Zoo Miami, talks about the endangered pine rockland. (Video and pictures by Peter Andrew Bosch and Jenny Staletovich/Miami Herald) July 23, 2014

Two South Florida Flowers, Threatened by Climate Change and a Walmart, 
Protected Under Endangered Species Act

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— Pursuant to a 2011 agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Endangered Species Act protection today for two imperiled flowers found exclusively in the disappearing pine rocklands of Miami-Dade County, Fla. The flowers’ habitat has been fragmented and destroyed due to population growth, and they are threatened by climate change and a proposed development to construct a strip mall with a Walmart.

“These flowers represent the natural beauty that’s capable of surviving in Florida’s extreme conditions, and today’s listing will help ensure they’re around for generations to come,” said Jaclyn Lopez, a Florida-based attorney with the Center. “And they’re a stark reminder that Florida stands at the precipice of an important decision: Wake up and address climate change and population growth, or lose Florida as we know it forever.”

Both flowers have been waiting for federal protection since 1985. Their final listing was prompted by the Center’s 2011 agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service expediting protection decisions for 757 imperiled species across the country.

Carter’s small-flowered flax is 1 foot tall with slender leaves and yellow petals. Florida brickellbush is a white, perennial flower in the aster family that grows to more than 3 feet tall. Small and fragmented occurrences are all that remain of these two flowers. Both Miami-Dade County flowers are threatened by conversion of native habitat for urban and agricultural development and by inadequate fire management.

At least five populations of Carter’s small-flowered flax have been lost to development. Four of the seven surviving populations have fewer than 20 individual plants. At least nine known populations of Florida brickellbush have been wiped out by development. The total number of plants is estimated to have declined by 50 percent since 1999, and the overall population is estimated at 2,100 to 3,700 plants.

To date 133 plants and animals have received protection as a result of the Center’s 2011 agreement, and another 10 are proposed for protection.

Read more about the Center’s 757 agreement and the Center’s sea-level rise campaign.


Press Release Courtesy of The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 625,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. September 3rd 2014