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Miami Dade County Environmentally Endangered Lands Program

Policy Details

Policy Type: Policy
Jurisdiction: Local — Miami, FL
Status: Passed
Tags: Climate Adaptation & Resilience, Conservation & Biodiversity, Nature-based Solutions

Policy Summary

Climate change and sea level rise are long-term stressors that will exacerbate other challenges in Miami-Dade County, from intensifying storms and hurricanes to affecting human health and increasing social vulnerability.

Through its ongoing Sea Level Rise Strategy project, Miami-Dade County is identifying and creating cost-effective mitigation and adaptation strategies to prepare for sea level rise and coastal storms. This involves analyzing various “adaptation pathways” and assessing the economic cost of inaction.

Nature-based solutions such as beach renourishment, shoreline restoration for living shorelines like mangroves and dune restoration, protection of open buffer space through parks and the Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) Program, and protection of mangrove forests and other wetlands of the Everglades provide a protective buffer against extreme storms, strengthening hurricanes and long-term sea level rise. Climate impacts disproportionately affect Black residents and leaves them vulnerable to climate gentrification. Historically, Black residents were pushed onto an in-land ridge, and many have lived there for generations. In the face of worsening sea level rise and climate change, their homes that sit on higher elevation are highly sought after by predatory developers.

Passed as a local ordinance, the Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) Program in Miami-Dade County focuses on the protection and conservation of endangered natural areas. This initiative began after voters approved a property tax from 1990 to 1992 to fund the acquisition, protection, and maintenance of these lands. The EEL Program has since brought over 20,700 acres of endangered lands into public ownership and manages an additional 2,800 acres within county parks, totaling over 23,500 acres protected.

The program relies on community involvement, offering volunteer workdays where individuals can help protect and restore natural areas, earning community service hours in the process. Key acquisitions include significant natural sites such as Biscayne Coastal Wetlands, Castellow Hammock, Oleta River Corridor, Rockdale Pineland, and South Dade Wetlands.

The lands protected under the program include various habitats: 1,550 acres of rockridge pineland, 1,790 acres of tropical hardwood hammock, 18,832 acres of freshwater wetlands, 625 acres of coastal wetlands, and 19 acres of scrub habitat. The EEL Program continuously considers new sites for acquisition, with proposals reviewed by county staff and citizen volunteers, ensuring community involvement in the selection process.

Proposed acquisitions are funded through partnerships and matching grants, leveraging resources from programs like Florida’s Preservation 2000 and Florida Forever. Private property owners can also participate by qualifying for tax exemptions if they preserve and maintain their natural areas.


Does this policy address needs impacting diverse groups within Black communities (Black femmes, Black LGBTQ+ communities, Black immigrants, people in poverty, differently abled, people impacted by justice system)? If so, how?  

This program does not sufficiently address specifics such that it would address the needs of diverse groups within Black communities.  Improved, culturally relevant outreach to diverse Black communities and increased access to and education of the protected natural areas, especially in how it improves climate resilience, could make a difference.

Does the proposed policy solution re-distribute power from mainstream institutions to impacted Black community?   

The program does facilitate community involvement, encouraging public participation in conservation efforts and fostering a community committed to environmental stewardship.  Online there is an EEL Story map which allows user to see what areas are protected and which may need protection. These resources can be used to build power. However, more research is needed to determine the exact scope of improved power and climate resilience for the Black community. There are many coastal Black communities that can use their skills, gifts, and talents to enhance a nature-based conservation policy with a racial justice lens.

Does this policy provide more decision-making power at the hands of Black communities?  

The program provides educational opportunities with hands-on activities that educate the public about the importance of natural areas and conservation.  The Black population in Miami-Dade must be engaged more in the habitat preservation, community outreach, education opportunities on nature-based solutions to climate change.

Does the proposed policy undermine extractive economies like capitalism and restore community power around a local and regenerative economy/ primary production?  

This program facilitates nature-based solutions which improves the preservation of the locality. It also has pathways for community involvement. However, it does not undermine the extractive economy.

Does the proposed policy repair past harm and uphold civil and human rights, health and environmental protections?

This program does enhance environmental protections through habitat and biodiversity preservation but more can be done to meaningfully engage Black communities across Miami-Dade.

Summary supported by Miami Dade Gov Environment

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