Activists to Protest Bike Path That Would Cut Through Everglades

The River of Grass Greenway (ROGG) is a planned hard-surface path that would cut through the Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades and serve as a bike path stretching through 76 miles of natural habitat. The proposed project has garnered the attention of indigenous people, conservationists, and concerned citizens who say that ROGG will cause destruction of habitat of many endangered species living in the preserve.

Back in March, New Times published a story on ROGG and how the Native Americans who live along the Tamiami Trial who have been saying that the path would destroy and endanger the habitat as well as trample on the rights of those who live in the area.

They say that ROGG and its 12- to 16-foot-wide path could harm up to 60 endangered species living in the Big Cypress, including the Florida panther, bald eagle, and rosetta spoonbill. The proposed path would add levees, bridges, boardwalks, restrooms, and parking lots as well as access points for bikers and walkers who want to take the trail.

“The most important thing with this project is the destruction of the natural world that the creator has given us," said Bobby C. Billie, head of the protesters and spiritual and clan leader of the Council of the Original Miccosukee Simanolee Nation Aboriginal People. "The indigenous people know that the creations the creator has given us — the water, the air, the trees, the plants, the grasses, and all the insects living in the grasses — must survive in order that we may survive.”

Bike activists and government officials, however, say that ROGG would be an environmentally friendly attraction that would get people out of cars and buses and onto bikes. The pro-ROGG crowd also believes that the path could finally start to make Florida a bike-friendly state.

Still, a group of concerned citizens and indigenous Floridians is planning to protest ROGG on Wednesday afternoon at the Government Center building in downtown Miami. Wednesday is the deadline for public comment on the ROGG Feasibility Study and Master Plan, and protesters plan to gather on the sidewalk of the Government Center with signs and banners expressing why they oppose the pathway.

The protest, scheduled for 2 p.m., will also feature a short march and a brief news conference. From there, protesters plan on delivering letters of opposition to the project manager of the ROGG and the project planner with the Miami-Dade County Parks, Mark Heinicke. 

"The proposed River of Grass Greenway will cost taxpayers $140 million," says a news release announcing the protest. "Long-term costs even more costly. At ground zero in restoration efforts, eyes around the world are watching to see if Florida can save the Everglades."

The ROGG opposition group also points out that there are already plenty of bike paths, swamp hiking areas, observation towers, and other recreational areas for people to enjoy without destroying the sensitive wetlands in the process.