Public Invited to Celebrate Clearing of Last Irma Canal in NRCS Marine Debris Removal Project – ThursdayJo

All are invited to attend a mini-celebration at the clearing of the last Hurricane Irma marine debris removal project canal funded through a United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) grant. The mini-celebration will take place at Canal #197 on Thursday, Oct. 24 at 100 Avenue D off Coco Plum Drive in Marathon. Monroe County, City of Marathon, and Village of Islamorada officials will be in attendance.

“This is a historic event regarding the amount of money we received for the opportunity to restore the marine environment in our canal waters,” said Rhonda Haag, Monroe County’s Director of Sustainability. “Working with our partners in Marathon and Islamorada, we were able to make this a Keyswide environmental restoration effort.”

The project started in August 2018. As of Oct. 22, 2019, 407 days of the 505-day revised project, the removal work status is as follows:

  • 95 percent complete with additional approved marine debris removal canals (235 out of 247 canals in total)
  • 65 percent of the grant funding for cleanup has been used for the original and revised project ($30 million out of $45.8 million).
  • The project is ahead of schedule and near completion. Two additional canals in Islamorada were recently approved by NRCS for sediment removal.
  • Total of 16,401 cubic yards of debris pulled from local waters.
Marine Debris Removal
Marine debris in removed from canal #309 on Big Pine Key. CONTRIBUTED/Monroe County.

The County applied for the canals to be cleared, and NRCS selected the approved canals. The original project scope started with 103 of the most impacted canals in the Florida Keys. Due to the success of the program, additional canals were approved totaling 247 canals. There are a total of 503 canals in the Florida Keys.

“By being good stewards of the NCRS funding, the County was able to double the original number of canals cleared of Hurricane Irma related marine debris, while continuously staying under budget,” said Roman Gastesi, Monroe County Administrator. “Hiring local companies helped tremendously in stretching the grant dollars to clear as many canals as possible.”