Rare forest in Florida sold to make way for Walmart

Rare forest sold by the University of Miami to developer who plans a Walmart, an LA Fitness Center, a Chik-fil-A and Chili's restaurants, and apartments. Nearly half the rare forest will be kept as a preserve, which is habitat to plants, animals, and insects found nowhere else.

Damian Dovarganes/AP/File
A new Walmart (like this one in Duarte, Calif.) could be showing up in Palm Beach County, Fla., after the University of Miami's sale of a rare forest to a developer.

Environmentalists are scratching their heads over a recent deal between the University of Miami and a Palm Beach County developer that will bring a Wal-Mart store, restaurants and apartments to a section of rare forest.

The Miami Herald reports that last month the university sold some 88 acres of rockland, which is habitat to plants animals and insects found nowhere else. The developer agreed to set aside a 40-acre preserve.

The development includes a Wal-Mart store, an LA Fitness Center, along with Chik-fil-A and Chili's restaurants and 900 apartments.

In a statement, the university says it is committed to preserving the forests.

Federal officials told the Herald they're closely watching the project, given the pending protection of the Bartram's hairstreak butterfly, which need a host plant, the pineland cotton.

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