We reviewed Miami-Dade County's Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) Program, created in 1990 for the purpose of acquiring and managing threatened native forests and wetlands within Miami-Dade County, Florida. Funds for the program were initially raised from a two-year extraordinary property tax millage approved by voters, with additional funding coming from various state, county, and private sources. To date, the program has protected over 9000 ha of natural areas within the urban and agricultural matrix of eastern Miami-Dade. Although many of these reserves are small, all are important for the conservation of numerous rare endemic upland plants and are used frequently by a variety of animal species. Their preservation also offers a series of ecosystem services that directly and indirectly benefit the community, such as flood control and aquifer recharge. Many issues remain concerning the program, however. The County has not yet opened most EEL sites to the public, and all sites are threatened by edge effects—including the introduction of invasive exotic plants—that require continual management. None-the-less, the program is popular with residents, successful for its stated purpose, and arguably important for the conservation of rare endemic flora—especially that found within South Florida's pine rocklands, a globally imperiled ecosystem type.
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