As we continue our recovery and cleanup efforts, please visit the Emergency website for the latest information on openings and closings in Miami-Dade County.
Every great community has a great park system, and every great park system has a great Nature Preserve system! Natural Areas Management (NAM) is the Division of Miami-Dade County's Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces (PROS) Department that provides natural resources management services as well as scientific information and environmental assessments to various county, state and federal entities.
Natural Areas Management's Responsibilities
- Provide assistance to Florida Forest Service in fire management within pine rockland and salt marsh preserves
- Invasive non-native plant control through an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach that includes: mechanical, chemical, bio-control and prescribed fire techniques
- Monitoring and management of rare and endangered plants
- Partnering with local and regional cooperators in the control of invasive wildlife species
- Promoting environmental awareness through community involvement, including outreach and volunteer workdays
- Authorizing research in nature preserves
"To restore, protect and manage Miami-Dade County's naturally occurring plant and animal communities through resource management, inter-governmental environmental liaison, and community outreach including environmental education and volunteer programming to preserve these areas for present and future generations of South Floridians."
Miami-Dade's nature preserve system includes more than 23,500 acres of wetlands, 1,700 acres of pine rockland forest and 670 acres rockland hammock forest. Less than 2% of Miami-Dade County's original 185,000 acres of upland forests remain. Miami- Dade's forests contain an incredible diversity of plant species; more than 60 of which are found nowhere else in the world. These natural areas are also critical to native wildlife and migratory birds. Miami-Dade's natural areas are focal points for environmental education, nature study, wildlife observation and other passive recreation activities.
Unfortunately, South Florida's hospitable environment has also favored the invasion of a number of introduced species – both plant and animal. Over the last century, humans have introduced hundreds of plant species from all parts of the world to South Florida. Most have caused no significant problems, but some have escaped into the wild and have caused severe damage to natural systems. In a natural area, these invasive non-native plants compete for limited resources such as space, light and nutrients. With few or no natural enemies to control their growth, some species are capable of completely displacing native habitats. Introduced insects, reptiles, birds and mammals cause significant nuisance and harm to the natural environment and residents.
NAM has been greening Parks since 1991 when Miami-Dade County recognized the need to preserve the last remnants of a once vast system of natural habitats found in South Florida.The groundwork for the program was funded by an Elizabeth Ordway Dunn Foundation grant which formed a conservation partnership between Miami-Dade Parks, The Nature Conservancy, and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Resource Protection Plans were prepared for the most significant nature preserves in our parks.
One of the greatest concerns of managers at the time was the potential inability of fragmented urban preserves to recover from damage caused by a powerful hurricane. On August 24, 1992 fears were realized when Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 storm, ravaged southern Miami-Dade County. The path of Andrew crossed 90 % of the nature preserves in the county. Within months of the storm, severely damaged hardwood hammocks that were already infested with exotic vines now were over-run.
Within 2 years of Andrew, 95% of the pine rockland tree canopy had succumbed to pine bark beetle infestations. Parks went to work on obtaining grant funding to restore the storm damaged preserve system. NAM first received a $500,000 grant from the Knight Foundation. This funding made it possible to hire personnel to begin restoring Matheson Hammock, Snapper Creek Hammock, Castellow Hammock, and Addison Hammock at the Deering Estate at Cutler.
The State of Florida provided a substantial post-hurricane grant of $5.4 million in 1993 which supported the continuation of restoration efforts in these hammocks and expansion into pine rockland forests.
In 1996, the residents of Miami-Dade County passed the Safe Neighborhood Parks (SNP) Act, which provided an additional $4 million for natural areas restoration. Over time and through hard work NAM has restored thousands of acres of natural habitats giving the environment a chance to recover from the degradation it has suffered at the hands of fragmentation and Hurricane Andrew.
Thanks to NAM's efforts our community can enjoy a unique preserve system where one can still appreciate the natural beauty our land has to offer.
The quality of our preserves, programs and services have been recognized with the NRPA National Gold Medal Award and the Florida Governor's Sterling Award for excellence in management and operations. We are one of the most unique and diverse park and recreation systems in the world, and positively impact the community's health, environment, social well-being, and economic prosperity daily.
NAM's restoration efforts have received state and national recognition:
- The Florida Chapter of The Nature Conservancy awarded NAM its 1997 Public Service Award.
- NAM received the 1997 Ecosystem Restoration Award from the Florida Urban Forestry Council for innovative techniques in forest recovery, preservation and management.
- In 1997 Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt presented
- NAM with its Community Environmental Restoration Award. NAM has received awards from the Florida Native Plant Society for excellence in ecosystem restoration (2001, 2002, and 2010).
- 2013 NaCO Park-School Partnership for Nature Preserve Management
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