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.