For Immediate Release
More Than 2,700 Acres Protected for Two South Florida Flowers
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - As a result of a 2011 agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today designated 2,706 acres as protected critical habitat for Carter’s small-flowered flax and Florida brickell-bush, two imperiled flowers found only in the disappearing pine rocklands of Miami-Dade County, Fla. The flowers’ habitat has been fragmented and destroyed, mostly by development, and is now threatened to be wiped out by the construction of a strip mall with a Walmart.
“We're thrilled these two plants have gained the critical habitat protection they so desperately need to survive,” said Jaclyn Lopez, the Center’s Florida director. “The proposed Walmart and strip mall are planned for the last place on Earth these plants live. We hope this protected habitat is a nail in the coffin for this terrible project, which would essentially pave paradise to put up a parking lot.”
The two flowers are severely threatened by two proposed massive developments in some of the last pine rocklands habitat in the world, found in south Miami. The Coral Reef Commons mega-development would include a 158,000-square- foot Walmart, an LA Fitness facility, Chick-fil-A and Chili’s restaurants, and about 900 apartments. The other is a theme park planned by 20th Century Fox, ironically named Miami Wilds. The projects have faced vocal public opposition.
Characterized by limestone rock outcroppings, a low understory of tropical shrubs, palms, vines, grasses and wildflowers and an overstory of slash pine, pine rocklands have been reduced to less than 2 percent of their former extent and are home to several endangered species, in addition to the two flowers. Pine rocklands and the two flowers require periodic fire, making development particularly problematic.
Carter’s small-flowered flax is about 1 foot tall with slender leaves and yellow petals. Florida brickell-bush 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 flowers have been waiting for federal protection since 1985. Their final listing on October 4, 2014 was prompted by the Center’s 2011 agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service expediting protection decisions for 757 imperiled species across the country. To date 143 plants and animals have received protection as a result of the agreement, and another 10 are proposed for protection.
Today’s critical habitat designation will protect a combined 2,706 acres.
At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.