April 7, 2011 1 Comment
Letter to Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection
March 31, 2011
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Mr. Donald Keirn
Environmental Specialist III
Submerged Lands & Environmental Resources Program
Department of Environmental Protection
400 N. Congress Ave., Suite 200
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Via email: Don.Keirn@dep.state.fl.us
Subject: North Point, Virginia Key, Florida
Conceptual Environmental Resource Permit No. EC 13-0267159-001
Port Tunnel Contractor Deposits on wetlands, mangroves.
Dear Mr. Keirn:
We are writing to object to the dumping of excavation materials from the Miami Harbor tunnel project on Virginia Key, a barrier island within the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve, an Outstanding Florida Water.
The City of Miami, the municipality that has jurisdiction over the North Point of Virginia Key, has allowed the Port of Miami Tunnel contractor, Bouygues Civil Works Florida,. Inc. access to Virginia Key for the purpose of depositing tens of thousands of cubic yards of fill material on the North Point. The contractor has been cited for depositing material on wetlands and destroying mangroves. A “Notice of Violation” was issued by the Miami-Dade County Department of Environmental Resources (DERM) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is investigating.
The North Point of Virginia Key is an environmentally significant and fragile area for which the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has identified special resource designations: Manatee No Entry Zone, the Critical Wildlife Area and Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve.
In 1994, the Florida DEP described the North Point as “highly productive fish and wildlife habitat, as well as a movement corridor for the endangered manatee.” An extensive restoration project created five acres of coastal hammock, four acres of dune, 12 acres of new mangrove forest and new tidal habitat where there is a thriving coastal band mangrove community of red, white, and black mangroves.
In light of the significant environmental resources of the North Point of Virginia Key and the surrounding Wildlife Refuge and Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve, we are requesting that the Florida DEP:
*Issue an immediate Cease and Desist Order to prevent further damage to the area’s natural resources.
*Conduct an ecological assessment of the area to determine what damage has been caused by the most recent dumping of materials, the dumping of Port of Miami dredge materials in the 1990s as well as other uses introduced over the years by the City of Miami. These uses may be incompatible with the fragile natural resources of the uplands and submerged lands as well as contrary to the deed restrictions set by the State of Florida when it conveyed the property to the City of Miami in 1942.
*Request that the State of Florida manage the ecological restoration of the area, in partnership with Miami-Dade County’s Environmentally Endangered Lands Program or other responsible entities.
*Establish a state park, preserve or wildlife refuge on Virginia Key, in particular in the North Point and Critical Wildlife Refuge areas, to assure the protection and preservation of the area for future generations.
Thank you in advance for your attention and assistance in this matter of great public Interest.
Please add the undersigned to the list of organizations and individuals to be notified by the Florida DEP in all matters related to this issue and permit application.
Debbie Matthews, chair
Sierra Club Miami Group
P.O. Box 43-0741
S. Miami, FL 33243-0741
Robert S. Skinner
Izaak Walton League of America, Miami Chapter
2730 SW 3rd Ave # 205
Miami, FL 33129-2339
The Izaak Walton League, Florida Keys Chapter
P.O. Box 236
Homestead, Florida 33090-0236
Phone: (305) 451-0993
Alexis K. Segal, Esq.
Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper, Waterkeeper and Executive Director
465 Ocean Drive #417,Miami Beach, FL 33139