The agreement was reached after meetings were held to discuss how the County could best support the goals and objectives of the environmental community and they resulted in the County agreeing to provide funding to the County’s Biscayne Bay Environmental Enhancement Trust Fund managed by the County’s Department of Permitting, Environment and Regulatory Affairs. The County is also donating funds to the non-profit groups Tropical Audubon Society and Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper for projects designed to protect and restore Biscayne Bay.
Given that these funds would support environmental projects, the petitioners agreed to withdraw their opposition to the issuance of a Florida Department of Environmental Protection permit to allow the US Army Corps of Engineers to move forward with the construction phase of the dredge project. These funds are in addition to the regulatory and environmental monitoring and mitigation requirements that are part of the state permitting process.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez commended the groups for reaching an agreement that will allow the Port to proceed with the deepening of its channel to -50 feet to accommodate larger container cargo vessels.
“This is a win-win for the entire community,” Gimenez said. “The agreement provides additional funding for important environmental projects, while at the same time allowing for the timely completion of the dredge project, which is critical to our efforts to grow our container cargo traffic and create thousands of new, well-paying jobs in our community.”
The monies will be used for County-sponsored projects including: mangrove and wetland restoration at Oleta River State Park in North Miami; restoration of coastal dunes and plants along the north point of Virginia Key; monitoring of relocated coral colonies on the natural reef system; monitoring of small fish populations in the seagrass beds and the improvement of shoal marker and signage systems in the north part of the Bay including the Bill Sadowski Critical Wildlife Area.
The agreement will go before the Board of County Commissioners tomorrow(on May 1st) for final approval.