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UM sells endangered forest: Walmart deal sparks outrage from conservationists

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In a move that has outraged many wildlife conservationists, UM sells an endangered forest to a Walmart developer. The deal is being highly criticized because the land is home to one of the world’s rarest forest. As Miami Herald's report explained, it is also a section of Miami-Dade County’s last intact tracts of endangered pine rockland.

Apparently, this is just one more step in the Walton family’s ongoing effort to bulid a Walmart on every single inch of undeveloped land, Ring of Fire Radio wrote on its website on July 14.

The South Florida forest is home to several endangered and almost-endangered plant and animal species, such as the bald eagle, indigo snake, and Florida bonneted bat. UM sold the 88 acres of endangered pine rockland to firm named Ram, a Walmart developer, who plans to replace the wildlife habitat with a Chik-fil-A, a Chili's, an LA Fitness, 900 apartments, and, of course, a Walmart. Furthermore, the company also plans to develop 35 adjacent acres still owned by UM.

“You wonder how things end up being endangered? This is how. This is bad policy and bad enforcement. And shame on UM,” said attorney Dennis Olle who's demanding an investigation.

Although the sale included an agreement to set aside 40 acres for a preserve, researchers say the area they will develop is a globally imperiled ecosystem with a remarkable diversity of plant and animal life found nowhere else, Think Progress wrote on its website.

“Compared to other habitats you might come across, it’s very, very diverse,” Sarah Martin, a biologist with the Institute for Regional Conservation. Pine rocklands are home to a variety of rare and threatened species and occur only in South Florida and the Caribbean. “Over 225 types of native plants occur here and more than 20 percent of the plant species are found here and nowhere else in the world.”

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