by: Maureen Harwitz, President

It was a clear sunny day on March 11, 2023 as more than 300 visitors came to Miami Dade County’s Arch Creek Park where history and nature meet.

It was a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the success of the intense community campaign that resulted in the unanimous vote by the Governor and Cabinet to preserve this area as a state archeological site, a short boat ride away from Biscayne Bay. If it hadn’t been for the actions of the community in 1973 , the lush green canopy of this historic site would have been cleared away and the land paved over for a Chrysler used car lot.

Highlights of the celebration hosted by the Arch Creek Trust and the Miami Dade Parks and Recreation Department and organized by Arch Creek Trust member, David Raymond, and the Park’s amazing Supervisor, Aimee Scott were:

• Celebrating the 50 years of protecting this historic site by planting 50 Coontie plants, for an Atala butterfly garden by the Natural Bridge.

• A presentation about the Atala butterfly by Dr. Sandy Koi, ecologist and Butterfly expert.

• Artist Hannah Lasky reciting her original Atala butterfly poem (accompanied by her artwork) about Arch Creek Park’s’ history.

• Presentation by Dr. Bob Carr, Archeologist, whose archeological investigations of Arch Creek established the significance of the site for its purchase and listing on the National Register of Historic and Archeological Places.

• Remarks from Miami Dade County’s Parks Director Maria Nardi whose support for the Park has been critical to its success as an important Natural Area component in the Parks system.

• An interactive computer set up by Ximena Valdivia, FIU Library: to demonstrate the Trust’s on-line collection of more than 50 years’ of documents at

• MOCA, North Miami’s Museum of Contemporary Art, basket weaving activity led by Curator of Education Amanda Kovach; and display of student art inspired by Arch Creek’s history
1925 Fire Engine and Antique Police Cruiser for kids to climb on.

• Recognition of the North Miami police officer Carl Mertes family’s sacrifice caused by his murder at Arch Creek while protecting the community and apprehending a criminal
Presentation of Arch Creek caps to invited special guests.

• Guided nature walks, music performances; archery ; and participation from the Dade Heritage Trust, Miami Seed Share; History Miami, North Miami Library, Florida Public Archeology Network, Pelican Harbor Seabird Station, Friends of Enchanted Forest, Little River Conservancy, and the Native Plant Society.