Friday, July 05, 2013

Mountain Bikers: Don't Succumb to Nimbyism at Virginia Key. By Geniusofdespair

In response to the Mountain Biking protest, on Australian Pine removal and a proposed beach on the North Point, scheduled for tomorrow:

I am one of the original people who saved the black beach from Development on Virginia Key and prevented the development of the North Point in 1993 with many others.

Mabel Miller stopped the blimp base on the North Point in the 1970's.  I walked the North Point with Frenchy and other mountain bikers BEFORE THE TRAILS WERE MADE. ENVIRONMENTALISTS ARE VERY involved with Virginia Key. Australian Pines ARE BAD they are invasive. The hardwood hammocks grow quickly. Just go on the trails Juan Fernandez planted on Virginia Key. They are fully shaded. Mountain Bikers are not seeing what we did to make it possible for what they have. there are hundreds of environmentalists who made and saved Virginia Key. Oleta has swimming and mountain biking right next to each other.

Share with others, your single-mindedness is selfish. You wouldn't have mountain biking if not for the Urban Environment League and Tropical Audubon and Friends of Virginia Key.

Here is a note from Barbara Falsey, President of the Urban Environment League And Blanca Mesa of Friends of Virginia Key, on the Mountain Bike trails on the North Point of Virginia Key:
Babara Falsey:

 Last year I personally walked the area with “Frenchy” and Gary Milano and others.  We agreed to a plan that provided some additional trails and that established clear boundaries for where restoration would occur.

I was really disappointed to learn that since that time trails were built and more are planned for an area that we agreed would not be touched.   I suspect that some of the mountain bikers were not informed of that agreement and unfortunately invested time and effort to build the trails.  That does not excuse their leadership who did know what areas were supposed to be off limits and it does not mean that since the trails are “facts on the ground” they should be allowed to stay.  There have been a series of compromises reached with the Mountain Bike representatives but it is clear that at this point, the compromises are one sided.  They continue to push past limits they have agreed to.  What next? Close the beaches?  Destroy already restored areas?

I understand that a protest is scheduled in an effort to stop restoration efforts.  These restoration efforts have a much larger public purpose than extending the mountain bike trails.  It not only is environmentally sound but will provide access to a wonderful beach and nature walks for whole families.  It would be a travesty to stop it.

Please understand that I support Mountain Biking – in the right places.   I think however that in this case it has gotten out of hand.  Too many people have invested too much time in the overall planning process for Virginia Key to allow a few misguided mountain bikers to derail it.
------------
Blanca Mesa:

On behalf of Friends of Virginia Key, which has always advocated for public use and ecological restoration of ALL of Virginia Key, I  am writing to support restoration of the North Point and support of multiuse trails on the North Point that allow hikers and bikers to share the road amid an ecologically restored landscape that protects wildlife. And protects the land from erosion and impact of storm surge and sea level rise.

See the blog stories on North point, bike trails restoration and the
masterplan developed and adopted in 2010. please feel free to a share maps,
articles and forward.

Share the road! ecological restoration and multi use plans are best for all
including wildlife. northpoint is a special place and offers critical
wildlife habitat for sea turtles along beaches. Native planting will secure
land with sea level rise, assuring enjoyment of this land for generations.

Friends of Virginia Key worked hard to protect North Point  from development
including a hotel complex proposed by Diaz administration.  Now bicyclists
and environmental groups need to work together for mutual good. Here are links to more info. 


29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Don't the Mountain Bikers realize they will get crushed under the weight of Sierra Club, Urban Environment League, Friends of Virginia Key and Tropical Audubon Society that have been viciously guarding Virginia Key for over 30 years. Who do they think they are? On Virginia Key Environmentalists reign supreme and have stopped every bad thing on Virginia Key and if Mountain bikers aren't playing nice they will be squashed like a bug under lawsuits.

Anonymous said...

How very imperialistic of the bikers!

Phillip said...

The North Point was never meant to be only Mountain biking. It has morphed into that because the mountain bikers have been militant. If they can't work together with people maybe it is time to throw them out. Most of them don't even live in the city of Miami.

Geniusofdespair said...

I remember Frenchy Bernard Riviere being so polite when he first wanted these trails. What happened?

Jungle Kat said...

Barbara's comments are misguiding.

This fight is not about the mountain biking trails and i've told her this already in writing.

FRENCHY IS NOT INVOLVED IN THIS AT ALL, THE BIKE CLUB HAS NOT FOUGHT ANYTHING...REGULAR PEOPLE LIKE ME ARE.

This fight is about a project that is 30% underfunded which will remove tons of soil without real proper studies

there are many native animals living there (including an undetermined community of Florida Spotted SKunk)which they have no plan to capture or relocate before the trucks come in to tear their ecosystem part.

tHere are 52 acres of land for them to play with which will not affect nor diminish the areas that many bird watchers, walkers, joggers, families and nature lovers use as much as the bikers.

This project is not well planned and they don't want the public to know.

Not everything you read is true. Do your homework, ask them for the plan... they will not give it you.

Listen to the leaders own statements here on their "private" meeting with the bikers on May 30: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NqtPgrSQf0 Look for minutes: 40:08, 53, 1hr:07, 1hr:16, 1:30, 1:32

Harry Emilio Gottlieb said...

It is my understanding that the Virginia Key Mountain Bike Trails came a bout with the elbow grease of several individuals and the financial support from the Mark Sarnoff with the City of Miami and Mary Jane Mark of Mack Cycles. That several bike shops had the opportunity to support this project, but only Mack Cycles stepped up to the plate. The cycling community owe a great deal of thanks to those that helped make the Virginia Key Mountain Bike Trails a reality.
Sincerely,

Unknown said...

If you're going to make a blog post learn from journalists and try to do your homework before you post falsehoods. Below is my response to Barbara's email which is quoted above:

Hello Barbara,

My name is Joseph Regner one of the board members of the Virginia Key Bicycle Club and I believe we met during the meeting you discuss below in an email you sent Ron Nelson from Commissioner Sarnoff's office.

I wanted to clear up some false information and make things clear.

First off,

"I was really disappointed to learn that since that time trails were built and more are planned for an area that we agreed would not be touched. I suspect that some of the mountain bikers were not informed of that agreement and unfortunately invested time and effort to build the trails. That does not excuse their leadership who did know what areas were supposed to be off limits and it does not mean that since the trails are “facts on the ground” they should be allowed to stay."

More trails are not planned for the area known as "Area 13", there was some mis-communication that restoration was not in the near future. Some took it to build a trail into the area, Gary Milano after walking the area offered to us to save the said trail. We did not fight for the trail, it was offered to us to try and save because of the more than 400hrs of volunteer time and uncounted volunteer donations into the area. The trail was only built through dead fall in the area preserving any and all existing green plant life for riders, runners, and walkers to enjoy which they do today an area which would otherwise sit unknown. Since the dead fall has been cleared much of the area is already growing back instead piles of dead fall killing the area.

After our last meeting between the City of Miami, DERM, and the VKBC. We have decided to withdraw saving the trail because it would be cleared of all vegetation, leaving the trail barren. And because we were told it would delay the restoration project which we have decided would benefit all involved to have move as quickly as possible. We are volunteers and do this for enjoyment in our spare time, we're not looking for arguments and battles. No one at the VKBC has said anything about "Facts on the ground" and the trails must stay, that could not be further from the truth, whomever told you this was lying.

Unknown said...

"There have been a series of compromises reached with the Mountain Bike representatives but it is clear that at this point, the compromises are one sided. They continue to push past limits they have agreed to. What next? Close the beaches? Destroy already restored areas?"

We also do not understand what compromises are being discussed here? The VKBC has made many compromises throughout this process and as stated earlier to facilitate this project.

"Closing beaches?" I don't understand why this would even come up, we are stewards of the land we work on for free. We are the only group currently out on North Point doing anything to benefit the interaction between people and the beautiful nature on the island. The VKBC has so far has 11,000+ volunteer hours into the park worth $250,000.

"Destroy already restored areas?" I don't understand this comment either. The sloped "Area 7" we walked together is now a thriving trail which the VKBC has tended to since our meeting. We've also planted native tree's in that area and are planning on adding nearly 100 more within the month or so. We are far from destroying anything, we work towards enhancing and sharing the island and its nature with the community in a responsible way.

"I understand that a protest is scheduled in an effort to stop restoration efforts. These restoration efforts have a much larger public purpose than extending the mountain bike trails. It not only is environmentally sound but will provide access to a wonderful beach and nature walks for whole families. It would be a travesty to stop it."

If you would have done any due diligence you would have known the VKBC has nothing to do with said protests. We are not in control of the citizens of Miami and we have no incited this. Our club has stayed neutral and continue's to work with the City of Miami, DERM, and Restoration leads heading forward. Also families regularly enjoy the area right now, if you were to frequent the park at all you would constantly see families with small children in these area's enjoying ocean views and breezes. If the VKBC wasn't around to build and tend to the area that wouldn't be happening today.

Unknown said...

"Please understand that I support Mountain Biking – in the right places. I think however that in this case it has gotten out of hand. Too many people have invested too much time in the overall planning process for Virginia Key to allow a few misguided mountain bikers to derail it. I and others had hoped to continue to work with them but we can only do that if they are willing to listen and understand the history of the site and how important it is."

And yet, no one has decided to contact the Virginia Key Bicycle Club throughout this process to get the facts. We have always been open and willing to have the park be used by bikers, runners, and walkers alike. Recently we've had an influx of bird watchers enjoying the park and we gladly show them around and guide them to where we think they would have the best chance in spotting birds. We have also approached over the past 2yrs many environmental groups to try and provide more tree's and plant life for area's of the park that currently sit barren. For over 2yrs, no one has responded. Only recently have we had one individual start working with us to provide around 150 tree's which we plan on planting with oversight of park officials and biologists over in Area 7 which is a restoration area.

"Mountain Bikers" which for some reason environmentalists have decided to portray as "evil-doers" are understandably people who love nature. That's why we build trails, its the same as trying to denounce hikers for climbing mountains, it makes no sense. Go anywhere in the country with trails and you will see they are regularly shared by bikers, runners, walkers and many times equestrian where possible. We can all share in enjoying nature while attempting to bring it back to its full glory.

I hope now you know how to get in contact with us from now on when you need clarification on the truth about North Point. Or you can come out to the park, we'll more than likely be there.

Joseph Regner
Virginia Key Bicycle Club
www.VirginiaKeyBicycleClub.com

Geniusofdespair said...

No one was blaming your club we are responding to the two women holding the protest who are saying they represent mountain bikers on Virginia Key. I Posted no falsehoods, and resent that characterization. I quoted people and my OWN experiences over the years. If people are lying, it is their falsehood not my ability to write a blog. If you represent the biking community you should inform the ladies.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me but as one of those two women you are talking about, I am not holding a protest I am personally protesting in writing, which is my right. I NEVER said I was representing anyone other than myself. What I did say was the I was a member of the VKBC.

I will GLADLY post for the world to read every last of the emails we just exchanged.

I have nothing to hide and I have NOT come at you and attacked you. I simply used information I gathered by educating myself on the history of Virginia Key to pose relevant questions that cannot seem to be answered by project members.

And so that we are crystal clear this is MARISOL GONZALEZ.

Anonymous said...

People should be very suspicious of any politician or government employee who tries to develop or commercialize any part of Virginia Key. Many businessmen are using lobbyists and campaign money to grab as much of scenic Virginia Key as they can. Beware.

Geniusofdespair said...

The comments on this blog are totally bizarre

Geniusofdespair said...

Part 1 from Gary Milano

The proposed ecosystem restoration plan is part of the City approved Virginia Key Master Plan.

Through mitigation and environmental grant funds already secured, the City of Miami, in partnership with Miami-Dade County (MDC), the Miami Science Museum (MSM) and other City Park not for profit partners will restore approximately 17-acres of coastal habitat consisting of hammock, coastal strand, beach dune, and freshwater wetlands communities on the northern end of Virginia Key.

In addition, grant funds have been secured to provide success biological monitoring and long term maintenance needs for the restored site.

Virginia Key and all of the barrier islands along South Florida have historically provided prime turtle nesting habitat due to the prevalence of sandy beach habitat. However, due to coastal development and light pollution, limited historic habitat remains in South Florida. Invasive exotic plants, such as Australian pine have colonized landward swaths of beach where turtles historically nested, thereby limiting the width of beach available for nesting females to lay their nests.

The proposed restoration effort will significantly enhance endangered species habitat on Virginia Key.
The restoration will involve the clearing and grubbing of all exotic vegetation within Areas 6 & 13, the creation of beach dune and coastal hammock habitat by moving and grading existing fill Areas 6 and 13, the enhancement of an existing isolated freshwater wetland on-site through exotic species eradication and control, the planting of appropriate native vegetation within each of the restored plant communities by volunteers from the local community, the creation of nature trails with interpretive signage through the restored habitats, and to provide passive recreational opportunities.

Geniusofdespair said...

Part 2 Gary Milano
The objective of the project is three-fold 1.) to restore and enhance the ecological habitats for a wide variety of native fauna, 2.) to provide environmental education to the local community, 3.) and to provide additional recreational opportunities on the North Point of Virginia Key.
The above detailed information was discussed at a public hearing on May 30, 2013, and posted on the VK bike clubs website.
Miriam's statement: "I took upon this position on my own and because I don't agree with the project objectives and logistics and it now seems many other people who have found out about it don't agree either.
As a trained biologist/ecologist, I believe the above stated project objectives are ecologically significant, and that the beach dune/coastal hammock habitat will enhance recreational opportunities and turtle nesting opportunities on Virginia Key. I also believe that if Miriam would allow herself to hear other community voices, she may understand the importance of natural areas restoration.
The funds secured to date ($400,000) can only be used for areas 6 and 13 on the North Point of Virginia Key. For the record, it was never stated that we only have a third of the funds needed for the project. Miriam, if it exists, please forward a copy of this tape to Juan Pascual's office for review. The misstatements that Miriam is distributing to the public are troubling, and are not healthy to an open transparent process. As you all know, ecosystem restoration is a process. For example, we are still fine tuning the restoration efforts at a very successful project at Cape Florida State Park.
For clarification, Miriam's attached photos are of a man-made earthen berm that was constructed for de-watering purposes (with the presence an Australian Pine) and the open photo is of a newly planted dune area on Virginia Key. Yes, dune communities are not for the shade loving. However, the coastal hammock restoration in Area 13 will provide abundant shade.
I have met with Miriam twice to discuss the details of the project, and it may not be a bad idea to meet again to emphasis the importance of the beach dune, freshwater wetlands, and coastal hammock communities, and the limited areas where turtle nesting habitat can be enhanced.
I believe another constructive strategy is to mobilize the ecologically minded community members, and to educate the general public about the project goals and objectives of the ecosystem restoration effort.
Weather permitting, I may ride my bike to the proposed gathering to address misstatements, and to discuss the project with the organizers, bikers, etc.
Enjoy your weekend!
Regards,
Gary Milano
Virginia Key North Point Ecosystem Restoration Team Member

Jungle Kat said...

I’m not known for being the most soft spoken person within the people that know me and I apologize to all for not having mastered the sugar coating technique, but my unquestionable reputation as a friend, as a person and professionally is certainly of saying the truth and honest to the bone.
I’m not the only one against the project logistics; I’m just the one with time to research and share the information about it, even if I have to deal with people calling me a liar, which I’m not.

These are my comments to Gary Milano who I have met and conversed with, in two occasions about this project
1. The Approved Plan is a Proposal and can be changed and moved around in many ways as the needs of the city and the environment evolve.
2. At the meeting Gary Milano stated that $200,000 would be needed to complete the work he also said: “with more money we could have a rolls Royce vs. a Chevy” see hour 1.34 of the meeting held on May 30 with only the biking club invited in youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NqtPgrSQf0 . $200,000 is 30% of the needed funds since they only have $400,000. It was also stated no funds are in place for post maintenance of the newly created areas or beach.
3. There are native species representing the 4 animal kingdoms (mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects) on the areas they want to remove, like the rare Florida Spotted Skunk and many other species that already thrive on those areas.
4. No studies or statements have been provided about how the proposed restoration effort will significantly enhance the environment or affect the reproduction of the native animals living in the area.
5. All we were told was aloof answers, no numbers, no figures, no projections, no copies of their proposed plan.
6. “Grubbing”, as Gary described the present environment, is a way to diminish the value of these areas. I invite everyone concerned to visit the areas in question.
7. The existing wet land areas were JUST marked 4 days ago by Gary himself. Before that there was no federally registered wet land area on the site, and a wet land I just found out can be designated by water simply collecting for a specific period of time enough for 1 wet land plant to grow on it. Also, the trails do not affect these wetlands, but the restoration project will certainly will as much of the landscaping and topography will be removed and forever transformed in an unspecified way.
8. At the meeting Gary said they did not have enough funds to fully replant and was hoping for donations and volunteers.
9. The area is a fill mountain with dredge material hardly native, with poor unstable soil.

Anonymous said...

The Sierra Club Miami Group has held numerous clean ups in the North Point area where bicyclists and hikers spontaneously joined in to help too. Everyone was cooperative and happy to help. I don't understand the problem here and why anyone would organize a protest against badly needed ecological restoration of Virginia Key. Why can't we all get along and realize there is a greater good here. Perhaps Miami needs more parks and recreational areas. Harness the energy to demand more parks, bike trails, from City and County officials.

Geniusofdespair said...

Here is a letter written to Commissioner Sarnoff by the Bike Club President May 30th:

Thank you for coming out to the meeting tonight. The club members were very pleased to be included in this discussion and it was good for them to see you both there.

Gary and Fernando did an excellent job providing detail and fielding questions. While the club is not organized in such a way to speak with one voice it's clear most of our members support the project and look forward to working with the restoration team. Most who spoke expressed gratitude and had questions regarding safety, future projects, and project details. The folks who showed up tonight are our top volunteers. They understand and support the restoration project.

You did a great job reinforcing that the land in question was slated for restoration prior to us breaking ground on the mountain bike park. As a board of directors we've delivered this same message to riders and club members and it was good for them to hear if from an official source such as yourselves. The active members and leaders understand and respect the master plan and you heard them speak out in support tonight.

At the same time I hope our positive supportive majority is not eclipsed by the few people who spoke out in opposition. It's important I emphasize the few who indicated opposition were mostly opposed because they like Australian pines…their resistance had nothing to do with bike trails.

While the club is not organized in such a way to speak with one voice it's clear most of our members favor collaboration.

We've done preliminary walk throughs with Gary/Fernando and understand the need for trail reroutes. Further we understand that more discussion and planning is required before the city or project leaders can state the precise location for the reroute. Your comments on the issue were accurate and well stated. As soon as the precise reroute is determined we'll have a maintenance crew ready to go and do any prep work or demolition Gary/Fernando require prior to project commencement.

The International Mountain Bike Association recommends that local trail clubs collaborate with government and other land users wherever possible. Tonight was a great step forward in that direction and I plan to drive even more community collaboration as the club matures.

It was good to work with you both.

Tom Siddons, VK Bike Club President

Geniusofdespair said...

I had a long facebook interaction with Tom Siddons and found him totally reasonable.

Jungle Kat said...

Thank you Genius for posting that letter... I hope it is now clear that this protest is NOT organized nor led by bikers. But even if it were, it should not be less valuable.

We are a group of nature lovers and not in agreement with the restoration logistics, specially because of the lack of transparency by the leaders of this project.

Hopefully today's meeting will encourage the leaders to open up and explain the restoration process with more facts and details they can back up.

Miriam Merino

Anonymous said...

It is clear the protest is led by a few misguided people who are denser than a rock.

George said...

Ignore this woman. Don't give her any more ink.

George said...

Ignore this woman. Don't give her any more ink.

Anonymous said...

Agree. She makes no sense.

Anonymous said...

Why isn't anyone talking facts?

Facts;

Turtles like beaches
People like beaches
Bikers like trails
Bikers are not protesting
Crazy people post dribble on here
If I was a Turtle I would go to Sobe anyway
I just stole time from your life
That's deep.. Read it again

Signed,

Time Burglar

Geniusofdespair said...

Putz

RealJunglekat said...

For those of you who took time to comment here I would like to give you an update on the result of the restoration project.

The levy was removed about 80% so there is still a small dune in place.

All the vegetation surrounding the east side of the wetland area was removed indiscriminately.

The dune was planted with 99% Sea Oats (a grass looking small shrub) a few Sea Purslane ( a purple flower ground cover) and a third type of plant which name escapes me right now.

Basically its now a dune. Good for the few turtles that nest here (about 8 nests per year) but not so good for the other thousands of creatures that made it its home and were displaced.

The Wet land area that they wanted to protect was not protected at all with any type of mesh to avoid debris from falling on it when the heavy machinery came to remove all the trees and shrubs that lived around it. They allowed pine tree branches, needles and fill soil fall into the pond. The Wet land is now getting straight sun, which it never did before in its entire history ( it was fully shaded befire) and due to the extra organic material that feel in it from the construction, the combination of hot water and surplus organics have resulted in the pond slowly starting to get chocked on green algae.

All the birds, reptiles, skunks, blue crabs, insects and other mammals that thrived here have moved on to the west side of the pond and other areas of the park which are set to be "restored" next year.

No trees were planted. No hammock like the ones Gary Miller and others selling this project promised will be planted. Not the slighted comparison with other restored areas of Virginia Key.

Gary left to Australia as soon as the funding was released. He will be there diving the Australian reef for some 6 months I have been told. He did not oversee the progress nor completion of this project he loved so much and pushed for.

Watch these videos of before and after and make your own mind as to which area is more biodeverse.

Enjoy.

AFTER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szndIIhruAc

BEFORE:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOEmeLD69f8

Florida Spotted Skunk: http://www.youtube.com/Fla Spotted Skunk at North Point Virginia Key

Brickell Watch said...

For those of you who took time to comment here I would like to give you an update on the result of the restoration project.

The levy was removed about 80% so there is still a small dune in place.

All the vegetation surrounding the east side of the wetland area was removed indiscriminately.

The dune was planted with 99% Sea Oats (a grass looking small shrub) a few Sea Purslane ( a purple flower ground cover) and a third type of plant which name escapes me right now.

Basically its now a dune. Good for the few turtles that nest here (about 8 nests per year) but not so good for the other thousands of creatures that made it its home and were displaced.

The Wet land area that they wanted to protect was not protected at all with any type of mesh to avoid debris from falling on it when the heavy machinery came to remove all the trees and shrubs that lived around it. They allowed pine tree branches, needles and fill soil fall into the pond. The Wet land is now getting straight sun, which it never did before in its entire history ( it was fully shaded befire) and due to the extra organic material that feel in it from the construction, the combination of hot water and surplus organics have resulted in the pond slowly starting to get chocked on green algae.

All the birds, reptiles, skunks, blue crabs, insects and other mammals that thrived here have moved on to the west side of the pond and other areas of the park which are set to be "restored" next year.

No trees were planted. No hammock like the ones Gary Miller and others selling this project promised will be planted. Not the slighted comparison with other restored areas of Virginia Key.

Gary left to Australia as soon as the funding was released. He will be there diving the Australian reef for some 6 months I have been told. He did not oversee the progress nor completion of this project he loved so much and pushed for.

Watch these videos of before and after and make your own mind as to which area is more biodeverse.

Enjoy.

AFTER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szndIIhruAc

BEFORE:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOEmeLD69f8

Florida Spotted Skunk: http://www.youtube.com/Fla Spotted Skunk at North Point Virginia Key

Geniusofdespair said...

The bike community was made fully aware of the restoration to come. Australian pines are the first to go as a non native species. Allow the natives time to grow, you will be pleased with the results. Go to Cape Florida and you will see what you will be getting.