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NFC: Fw: Action Alert from Reef Relief!

Reef Relief - http://www.reefrelief.org

Action Alert: Help Guide Future Growth in the Florida Keys 

The Florida Keys Carry Capacity Study is Seeking Public Comment


The Florida Department of Community Affairs and the US Army Corp of
Engineers are presently conducting the Florida Keys Carrying Capacity
Study. This $6 million dollar study was designed to determine the ability
of the Keys' ecosystem to withstand all impacts of additional land
development activities while also addressing the economy, quality of life
issues and community values and expectations.  The final model that
results from these studies will determine the degree of future
of the Keys, as well as guide political and legislative decisions.  

Your participation in this study is of critical importance! 

The study workshops present citizens with the opportunity to influence
this project and let their concerns be heard. The workshops are conducted
specifically to gather community feedback regarding quality of life and
growth issues. Your participation is vital to insure that the study's
final model for future growth adequately addresses and protects the
and integrity of both our environment and our communities. 

At the recent Key West workshop, Steve Traxler from the Army Corp
the study.  A question and answer session was held, followed by the
comment period. During this time it became clear that the public has a
significant opportunity to provide the Army Corp with information that
will direct them to develop models for growth that recognize that many
ecological and quality of life thresholds have already been exceeded in
the Keys, and that degradation has occurred as a result. It is critical
that the study not proceed from a baseline assumption that the current
level of development in the Keys has presented no ecological or quality
life problems. 

Citizens at the workshop brought up several important issues not included
in the study. Reef Relief encourages everyone attending the March
workshops to reiterate the importance of these concerns, and of current
development impacts, so that they are added into the study. A recent
Solares Hill's editorial by David Etheridge [View editorial at:
http://www.reefrelief.org/editorial_carrying_capacity.html ]provides
excellent perspective and additional talking points. The issues not
addressed in the study now include: 

* The use of renewable energy 

* Air pollution generated by auto traffic and other sources. 

* Cruise ship traffic impacts, from both the growing number of visitors
and from  the environmental impacts of turbidity in the Key West Harbor. 

* The 18 Mile Stretch: Review other models for traffic and evacuation
management- in lieu of widening the highway- such as lessons learned at
Outer Banks in South Carolina.   

* Population: specifically include transient visitor numbers. 

* Include the impacts from and on Florida Bay as a result of the upstream
Everglades cleanup resulting in nutrients being flushed into the Bay and
down onto the coral reefs. 

* Include recent scientific studies showing biological losses: 

* The Florida Keys Coral Reef Monitoring Program by Dr. James Porter, et.
al., funded by US EPA as part of the Florida Keys National Marine
Sanctuary Water Quality Protection Program. [Transcript can be seen at:
http://www.reefrelief.org/coral_reef_monitoring_project1.html ]

What You Can Do:   

Let your voice be heard. Reef Relief thanks all action list members in
advance for their participation in these workshops. You provide a
opportunity to determine whether or not the Keys environment and
will be preserved for future generations.   For more information, contact
the Reef Relief Office at 294-3100 or e-mail us at reef at bellsouth_net.

Be Informed: Visit the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers website at:    
[ www.saj.usace.army.mil/projects/proj4.htm ]

Contact and e-mail the USACOE with your comments.    
US Army Corps of Engineers:    

   Cheryl Ulrich, 904-232-1700, Deborah Peterson, 904-232-2204    


  Florida Department of Community Affairs: 
     Mike McDaniel, 850-922-1806, Ann Lazar, 850-410-1564  


The public  workshop meetings will be held:    

March 20th 5:30 p.m.     Marathon Government Center, Marathon  
March 21st 5:30p.m. Village Offices at Founders Park, Plantation Key
March 21st 7:30 p.m.          Key Largo Public Library, Key Largo  March
22nd 5:30 p.m.          Harvey Government Center, Key West 


Coral Reef Monitoring Project Executive Summary
EPA Science Advisory Panel - Key Colony Beach, December 5-6, 2000

The Florida Keys costal ecosystem exhibits the typical Caribbean pattern:
mangroves at the costal interface and a mosaic of sedimentary, sea grass,
hard bottom, and coral reef habitats off the coast.  Coral reefs are
located predominately on the ocean side of the Keys.  Hard bottom habitat
exists on the ocean side and in Florida Bay as well.  Coral reefs are the
least abundant of the benthic habitat types, estimated to comprise
approximately one percent of the sea floor within the Florida Keys
National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS).  The northern latitude and flooding of
Florida Bay 4,000 years before present, represent an unfavorable habitat
setting.  Frequent hurricanes, bleaching episodes, and intensive
anthropogenic activities in the Florida Keys coastal area are additional
negative factors affecting the coral reef ecosystem.

Conclusions of this Study

There was a significant loss of coral species richness between 1996 -
(67 percent of the 160 stations lost species).

>From 1996 - 1998, stony coral cover significantly decreased in 45% of the
160 stations.  The greatest percent of stations, which lost significant
coral cover were in the Upper Keys. 

>From 1996 - 1999, percent stony coral cover decreased roughly 45% in both
Upper and Lower Keys. 

Diseases have increased in the number of stations where they occur, the
number of species that are infected, and a slight number of new
disease-phenomena were observed. 

This study can be viewed in its entirety at www.reefrelief.org or at:

For more information or to comment, contact the Reef Relief Office at
294-3100 or sending us e-mail at:  reef at bellsouth_net

Reef Relief On-Line Auction!

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Thank you - we appreciate your support.  Good luck!

Florida residents are not eligible for the sweepstakes.  No purchase or
donation required.  For a complete set of rules, visit the auction site
write to CauseLink Sweepstakes, 1425 Oakbrook Drive, Suite 100, Norcross,
GA 30093.

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