On Saturday, December 8th, 60 Upward Bound Eco-Ambassadors joined a group of volunteers from Miami-Dade College in replanting almost 1,000 mangrove propagules at R. Hardy Matheson Preserve. The Preserve is undergoing a major management effort by Miami-Dade County to remove exotic plants, replant native habitats such as mangroves, and create a multi-use protected area for recreational activities.
In all, over 100 volunteers participated in planting mangrove seedlings that had been exhibited on a wall at Miami Science Museum since November 2011, as part of the Museum’s Reclamation Project. Specifically, they planted young mangrove plants along the banks of the Snapper Creek, a historical waterway. Not only does Snapper Creek have historical significance, as evidenced by a 500 B.C. Tequesta Indian habitation mound, but it is also one of the largest tracts of coastal native habitat in Miami-Dade County. Until recently, the banks of the creek where the volunteers planted were covered in large mounds of landfill which were dumped there as part of periodic dredging of the creek for the purpose of recreational navigation. These mounds were also, until recently, covered in invasive plants such as Australian pine and Brazilian pepper, and devoid of any native vegetation. Thanks to the efforts of these Eco-Ambassadors, this area will once again be covered in mangroves and associated plants which will provide food and shelter for native birds, mammals and reptiles, such as the endangered American crocodile and the West Indian manatee.
This effort is being funded by a State Farm Youth Advisory Board grant to engage local teenagers in restoring local habitat, outdoor learning and telling their own stories about South Florida’s natural areas through film. Click here for more information on the Reclamation Project, the Eco-Ambassadors, and the State Farm Youth Advisory Board.