POPULAR ISLAMORADA BOAT LAUNCH NEARS COMPLETION

An aerial of the boat ramp on Indian Key, which saw heavy equipment and crews working on the area, which was damaged in February 2021. DAVID GROSS/Keys Weekly

Almost a year has passed since the closure of a launching point at Indian Key Fill in Islamorada. The area, used by boaters and kayakers, could open soon with repairs complete. 

Last February, a contractor working for the village of Islamorada was placing equipment into the water at the ramp, located at MM 78.5, when the hard pack surface was disturbed at the entrance to the ramp extending into the water. As a result, the area was closed off due to concerns that the weight of vehicles and boats wouldn’t be supported. 

Damage was initially evaluated by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. A determination was made that restoration was warranted before the area could be reopened to the public. 

Permitting and restoration work took months to complete, which left the ramp and parking area closed off to the public. Erin McDade, deputy press secretary for DEP, told the Weekly in an email that work to the boat ramp is complete and pending review and approval from the Indian Historic State Park management and DEP regulatory staff. 

“This contractor is responsible for the repair to specifications of the ramp, and the project involved filling in the damaged hard pack surface area with clean limestone gravel,” she said. 

Separately, Florida Keys Electric Cooperative has equipment at the ramp due to an ongoing electric line pole repair project in the water along Indian Key Fill. That’s set to finish in the next couple weeks. 

Improvements to the water access point at Indian Key Fill were not allowed to be incorporated into the restoration plan. Due to regulations in place for shoreline damage, the requirements are that the area must be restored to its previous condition and not improved. Any improvements would require separate design and permitting only after the restoration project is complete.

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Jim McCarthy is a northerner who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since his graduation from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 3 years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. Behind every community is resiliency and resolve in difficult times. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim serves as President of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. “It’s a group that lives by the motto ‘Service Above Self,’” he says. “We’ve done service projects at the Tavernier nursing home, sitting down and socializing with residents. “We’ve also supplied cameras to young students exploring the Keys ecosystem.” Jim loves sports, family and time exploring underneath the water depths.