Ecological Due Diligence and Development Permitting
The Vihlen project is a 15-acre site located outside the urban development boundary in Miami, Miami-Dade County. The site consists of undeveloped vegetated land with 9.37 acres designated as a Natural Forest Community (NFC) and 14.2 acres is under conservation easement by Miami-Dade County Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) program. The property owner wants to develop the site with three 5-acre ranchette style lots. Although this site is designated as NFC, the site was in foreclosure for several years and the habitat was severely degraded by the infestation of exotic plants that outcompeted the native pine rockland species. Smart-Sciences conducted a site visit to assess the current quality of the pine rockland habitat by evaluation of plant species, presence of threatened and endangered plant and wildlife species and native hardwood coverage. Based on our assessment, the understory is completely dominated by exotic plant species not allowing for the native diversity of rare plants that occur in pine rocklands that have not been impacted by surrounding development or are properly managed. The quality of this pine rockland is very poor.
Smart-Sciences is preparing the Natural Forest Community Permit to develop up to 20% of the site. The remainder of the site will be preserved and required to be restored and conserved through the removal of exotics, prescribed burns, and native plantings.