Miami Beach Chopped Down Dozens of Trees Along Indian Creek Drive

Before and after: Indian Creek Drive at 26th Street in Miami Beach.EXPAND
Before and after: Indian Creek Drive at 26th Street in Miami Beach.
Google/Edin Chavez
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

Anne Posschelle rides her bike to and from work every day on the tree-lined, waterside Indian Creek Drive. But one night last week, as she neared the curve by 26th Street, she was horrified to see that almost all of the foliage — including protected mangroves — had vanished.

"I was like, Whoa, wait a minute. It's all gone," she says.

Dozens of trees once lined that part of the roadway. Now only a handful of palms remain, and stumps dot the grass. Posschelle and other locals are outraged. They say the vegetation was key to preventing erosion and providing a home for wildlife.

"It was like a massacre," local activist Michael DeFilippi says. "There were so many trees, and that canopy was lost."  

Miami Beach Chopped Down Dozens of Trees Along Indian Creek Drive (3)
Michael DeFillippi

Miami Beach spokesperson Melissa Berthier confirms the city removed about 80 trees. Berthier says the city had to cut down the trees for a project in partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation that will protect the road from flooding by upgrading the drainage system and constructing a higher seawall along Indian Creek.

The seawall along the western edge of Indian Creek Drive was built at low elevation and was beginning to fail, Berthier adds.

"Most of the mangroves, trees, and other vegetation along this corridor were permitted for removal because they were in conflict with the necessary flood-mitigation work," she says.

The city communicated its plans during public meetings, including to the Marine and Waterfront Protection Authority, and the project's public information officer emailed regular updates to community stakeholders.

But Posschelle, who says she attended one of the meetings and receives the updates, says the changes were presented as tree "trimmings."

"I actually was going to write to the mayor and say, 'This is not tree trimming; this is tree destruction,'" she says.

She and DeFilippi say they understand the city needs to address its flooding issues. But they want it to be done in a more environmentally friendly way. Mangroves filter water, provide nursery areas for fish, and shelter coastal birds.

Those benefits aren't lost on the city, says Berthier, adding that officials have worked to minimize the impacts on the vegetation and to "preserve it as long as possible."

Now that 80 or so trees gone, the city plans to plant 74 new ones, she says. And the area's mangrove canopy will be restored through a living-shoreline concept.

Still, DeFilippi isn't comforted.

"You can't just replace a tree," he says. "Do you know how many years it takes for a canopy to develop?"

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.