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The success of our business is directly affected by our community’s visual appeal as well as its “green health”. This project will provide necessary data, inventory, analysis, and education for a successful urban forest program for the City and its residents. As Marathon improves with respect to our urban forestry plan, so will our local economy, as it is all connected.
Daniel Samess, M.S., CEO of Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce

The coastal dune system in Miami Beach is critical to maintaining a healthy and thriving shoreline. It also serves as the first line of defense against erosion, sea level rise, and storm surge. In order to maintain strong, stable dunes, the city has developed a comprehensive dune management program to foster and maintain a healthy, stable, and natural dune system. One component of this program includes removing non-native invasive species and replacing them with native vegetation. Another component of this strategy is the selective pruning of native vegetation to encourage a low and dense strand zone. Although the majority of this work is conducted through a contractor, the city leads volunteers from local nonprofit organizations in the non-native removal and replanting of select dune areas.

Implementation Process

The City of Miami Beach’s seven miles of Atlantic Ocean shoreline are protected by a vegetated dune levee which was installed in the mid-1980s as part of the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ Dade County Beach Erosion Control and Hurricane Protection project. Historically, the city has maintained the dune as a natural system with little-to-no maintenance. Previous large-scale dune maintenance efforts were solely conducted as part of the Atlantic Greenway Network Master Plan projects, which constructed at-grade pedestrian pathways along the western edge of the dune.

Additionally, since 2009, nonprofit organizations have periodically removed non-natives and replanted native vegetation in North Shore Open Space Park using volunteers. In 2012, the city developed a dune management plan that outlines specifications for restoring, enhancing, and maintaining the dune, while addressing the needs of the community’s various stakeholders. The specifications, which were developed through interdepartmental collaboration and used the best available research, have since been used to conduct restoration and maintenance work led by in-house staff, as well as public and private contractors. The plan also designates North Shore Open Space Park and Lummus Park as areas that will be reserved for volunteer restoration efforts, except in instances when vegetative trimming is necessary.

Community Benefits

The city’s dune management program goal is to restore the health and structural integrity of the dune system. The routine removal of aggressive, non-native vegetation preserves and promotes the structural integrity of the dune. The deep root system of planted native species traps and accumulates wind-blown sand, builds up the dune, and creates a sand reservoir for the system. The vegetative roots also stabilize the accumulated sand and significantly minimize erosion during high tides and storms. Additionally, by reintroducing a wide range of native dune plants, the program promotes species diversity within the habitat.

The healthier dune system provides a better habitat for native plants and animals, is more structurally sound, and offers the city improved storm surge protection and erosion control. Additionally, the restored dune system reduces the public safety and aesthetic concerns associated with overgrown, unmaintained vegetation without compromising the system’s role as an artificial light barrier for the adjacent sea turtle nesting habitat. The program also promotes community stewardship by engaging residents and visitors in the direct restoration of the dune habitat.

The Facts