Deep Dredge Critics File Emergency Demand to Stop "Destruction of Endangered Species"

Categories: Environmental

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Courtesy of Capt. Dan Kipnis
Sludge from dredge ships is killing Miami's corals.
The deep dredge could be in very deep trouble. Miami's most controversial public works project has been under the microscope in recent months as environmentalists have complained the dredge is killing precious coral colonies.

This morning, however, those same environmentalists are filing a request for an emergency injunction that could bring the $200 million dredge to a grinding halt.

"The damage is continuing 24/7 since they've been dredging 24/7," said Rachel Silverstein, executive director of Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper. "We can't afford to wait any longer."

See also: Deep Dredge Silt Is Killing Our Coral After All, Admit State Inspectors

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City Ignores Reports of Toxic Soil in Residences, Sidewalks in Coconut Grove, Reports Show

Categories: Environmental

The Miami Herald/John Rogers Partners
Old Smokey, which was demolished decades ago, continues to contaminate Coconut Grove.
Last fall, Miami leaders finally admitted they'd known for years that the long-shuttered Old Smokey trash incinerator in Coconut Grove had poisoned the earth with toxic ash. But they've also insisted contamination is contained within a 4.5-acre, fenced-off facility.

However, new reports obtained by New Times contradict that claim, revealing instead that testing this summer found that residential properties and public rights of way adjacent to Old Smokey had dangerous levels of heavy metals and other highly toxic substances. And though the findings arrived in June, city officials have failed to notify residents, ignored repeated demands from county regulators to fence off dangerous sites and remove the toxin-laced soil, and refused to investigate the extent of the contamination.

See also: Miami's Toxic Parks

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UM Researchers Chased Squirrels on Campus With a Remote-Controlled Cat, for Science

Categories: Environmental

Courtesy of Thaddeus McRae
McRae used this cat on wheels to chase squirrels on UM's campus, all in the name of science.
Listen up, kids. Next time you think science is boring, consider how Thaddeus McRae spent two years of his life: namely, chasing squirrels around the University of Miami campus with a remote-controlled cat on wheels and gliders painted to look like hawks.

"We had some very interesting interactions," McRae tells Riptide. "We had people come up and ask, 'What are you staring at through the telescope? An endangered animal?' When we told them we were watching squirrels, they'd slowly back away."

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Community Gardens Uprooted For New Parking Lot, Development

Categories: Environmental

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Photo via R.Y.P.E's Facebook page
Next Saturday the R.Y.P.E. Community Garden in Buena Vista will host en event. It's a goodbye party -- the garden will soon be demolished so a parking lot can be built in its place. "Pave paradise to put up a parking lot. Sooo sorry," wrote Atiya Guianese on the event's Facebook page.

R.Y.P.E. isn't the only local green space getting the boot by developers. Sam Van Leer, the founder of a nonprofit called the Urban Paradise Guild, tells Riptide that one of two community gardens that his organization runs is also in need of a new home.

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Miami's Toxic Parks: City Closes Fields at Colonial Drive Park For High Arsenic Levels

Categories: Environmental

Illustration by Jeremy Enecio
Yet another park in Miami-Dade has been fenced off today after officials found high levels of arsenic in the soil. This time, it's the athletic fields at Colonial Drive Park that have been closed.

"The closure has been implemented out of an abundance of caution and as a proactive measure," the county announced this morning. "Park users can expect to see signage announcing restricted, closed areas, as well as fencing closing off those areas to the public."

See also: Miami's Toxic Parks

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NOAA Warns of "Rapid Deterioration" of Endangered Corals Due to Deep Dredge Sludge

Categories: Environmental

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Courtesy of FDEP
Coral killed by sediment from the Deep Dredge
A month ago, state regulators raised the alarm over silt from the Deep Dredge killing Miami corals. Now the feds are stepping in as well.

According to documents obtained by New Times, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has issued a scathing set of recommendations for saving endangered coral threatened by the dredge project.

"There is clearly sediment impact affecting coral colonies, including [endangered species] Acropora cervicornis and possibly newly-listed corals, in the project area," the report says. "There is also evidence of additional background warm temperature stress in the region. Both these factors are contributing to rapid deterioration in colony condition in the project area."

See also: Deep Dredge Silt Is Killing Our Coral After All, Admit State Inspectors

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City of Miami Might Ban Stores From Selling Puppies

Categories: Environmental

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Photo: Ellie via WikiCommons | CC2.0
The city of Miami is looking into the idea of banning the sale of puppies. It's not that the city commission doesn't like puppies and wants to make the city some sort of dystopian puppy-free police state. They like puppies a lot. In fact, that's why they're toying with the idea of banning stores from selling puppies.

Many pet stores are known to get their puppies from dog mills, where the conditions for dogs can be notoriously bad.

See also: Miami-Dade County Commission Wants To Crack Down on Puppy Mills

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Two Flower Species at Controversial Walmart Site Are Now Endangered

Categories: Environmental

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Photo via ramrealestate.com
A projection of Coral Reef Commons, the development project
In July the news broke that the University of Miami had sold an 88-acre plot of land, near Zoo Miami, to a West Palm Beach developer who planned to build a Walmart. Environmentalists were devastated: The land is comprised of rare pine rockland forest, a savanna-like habitat found only in South Florida, the Bahamas, and Cuba.

After the announcement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that a butterfly found only in the habitat, the Bartram's scrub-hairstreak, would officially be listed as endangered. Yesterday the USFWS announced two more species found only in the pine rocklands would also get that designation: The Carter's small-flowered flax and the Florida brickellbush.

See also: Butterflies Living on Land Sold to Walmart Developer Are Now Officially Endangered

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Deep Dredge Critics Use Drones, Planes, and Satellites to Show Damage to Biscayne Bay

Categories: Environmental

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Courtesy of Capt. Dan Kipnis
What the Deep Dredge looked like from Capt. Dan Kipnis's chartered sea plane
Two years ago, environmentalists desperately tried to derail the Deep Dredge. They claimed the $2 billion plan to deepen the Port of Miami would kill wildlife in Biscayne Bay, so they sued to stop it. But when a bevy of state agencies lined up against them -- threatening dredge opponents with outrageous legal fees -- the environmentalists were forced to cut a deal and walk away. The dredge went ahead.

For a year and a half, these environmentalists focused on other issues. But when fleets of ships finally began scraping the bottom of the bay in December, activists went on alert. Like superheroes called out of their secret lairs, some have gone to incredible lengths to document the damage the dredge is doing.

"There is something rotten going on here," says Dan Kipnis, a retired Biscayne Bay boat captain. "Something really rotten."

See also: Colin Foord Braves Bad Weather and Giant Eels to Save Sea Creatures From Deep Dredge

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Everglades' Latest Threat: Tiny, Fungus-Spreading Asian Beetles

Categories: Environmental

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The beetle in comparison to a dime.
Invasive pythons have been getting all the credit, but there's another invasive species wrecking havoc in the Everglades that could end up causing more damage.

It's the red bay ambrosia beetle, a particularly small species native to Asia that first came to the U.S. in 2002, likely through the importation of wood products. Though, the bug has an accomplice in destroying the Glades: laurel wilt, a fungus it spreads that has proven deadly to thousands of trees in the fragile river of grass.

See also: Move Over Pythons, Invasive Meat-Eating Lizards Are the Everglades' New Pest

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