Curbelo Welcomes Grant to Support Coral Reef Restoration in the Florida Keys
Representative Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), whose district includes the Florida Keys, welcomed a $578,308.50 Direct Component grant for the Coral Reef Restoration for Environmental and Economic Enhancement of the Florida Keys project to Monroe County.
“South Florida has one of the most distinct and unique landscapes in the country, making it a popular place to visit and live,” Curbelo said. “At the heart of this landscape are the coral reefs that hug the coast of the Florida Keys, and are unfortunately under constant threat. I am pleased to see additional funding has been provided to guarantee one of nature’s greatest treasures will continue to be restored and protected along with all the species that call the reef ecosystem home.”
The grant is funded under the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act). The application requests funds for the restoration of degraded reefs in the Florida Keys via the out planting of nursery-reared corals, proposing a three-year performance period for the out planting of coral, with a target of 24,000 corals out planted.
Curbelo has been a staunch advocate for U.S. coastal preservation research, consistently supporting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) since he was elected. Funding for this program was made available in H.R. 244, the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017,” supported by Curbelo. Curbelo is also an original co-sponsor of the Conserving Our Reefs And Livelihoods (CORAL) Act that works to build upon and amend the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000 by restoring coral reefs through revitalization projects.
According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida is the only state in the continental United States with extensive shallow coral reef formations near its coasts. Coral reefs create specialized habitats that provide shelter, food, and breeding sites for numerous plants and animals. This includes ones important to fishing like spiny lobster, snapper, and grouper. The Florida Reef Tract stretches approximately 360 linear miles from Dry Tortugas National Park west of the Florida Keys to the St. Lucie Inlet in Martin County and is the world’s third-largest barrier reef. Roughly two-thirds of the Florida Reef Tract lies within Biscayne National Park and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, a marine protected area that surrounds the Florida Keys island chain.
Objectives of the Coral Reef Restoration for Environmental and Economic Enhancement of the Florida Keys project include :