Volunteers to join county’s effort to preserve precious natural areas

By Robert Hamilton….
The Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) Program of the Miami-Dade County Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM), in conjunction with TREEmendous Miami, is offering a great opportunity for residents to participate in a Natural Area Volunteer Workday event on Saturday, July 30.

The event, funded by a grant from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Forestry, will take place from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Rockdale Pineland Preserve on SW 144th Street and 92nd Avenue.

Volunteers of all ages will help to protect and enhance a rare habitat in South Dade. Dozens of volunteers are expected to participate and together, they will contribute toward the restoration of this unique plant community.

During the workday, volunteers will be taught to identify various invasive non-native plants while gaining a greater understanding of these ecosystems. They also may help to remove debris from this site, helping to keep this habitat pristine.

Natural areas in Miami-Dade County include hammocks, pinelands, freshwater wetlands, mangrove forests, and other habitats that once covered what are now urban areas in the county. Now only remnants of many of these ecosystems remain. These habitats, and the plants and animals that live there, are all a part of the county’s natural heritage and a resource to be treasured and protected for generations to come.

One of the threats to these natural areas is that non-native plants, introduced from around the world, have invaded these unique habitats. These exotics crowd out native plants, including rare species, seriously disrupting important natural processes such as storm recovery and natural fire cycles. The control of non-native plants is considered one of the most critical elements in the management of all natural habitats. Now more than ever, the support of the entire community and volunteers to restore and maintain our natural areas is appreciated.

For more information, call 305-257-0933, ext. 227, or send email to eel@miamidade.gov. Community service hours for students are available. For more information, go online to www.miamidade.gov/derm/endangered_lands.asp.

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