The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary – over 3,800 square miles of tropical paradise in South Florida – is a national treasure. Incredible ecosystems filled with mangrove islands, seagrass meadows, and colorful coral reefs are all found here. Unfortunately, the ecosystem’s health has declined rapidly in recent years. Climate change, water pollution, overfishing and overuse have left their mark–something that Florida’s students and youth know all too well.
Carl Lopez, a student at Valencia College, member of Florida PIRG Students and long time Keys resident, highlighted his experience with the Keys in an opinion piece he wrote for the Sun Sentinel.
Lopez loves the Keys and the amazing wildlife found within it and wants the Sanctuary managers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to do more to save it.
“The Florida Keys are the holy grail of our state’s ecological treasures. We must be thankful to NOAA for this massive undertaking. Without these protections, the prized existence of our coral reefs are on the way to irreparable damage and could easily be diminished to the point of extinction,” said Lopez.
Recently NOAA released the Florida Keys Restoration Blueprint – their proposed plan to restore the ecosystem. While the changes are a step forward, there is still more to do to save the coral and segrasses of the Keys. But with the help of engaged youth leaders like Lopez, I have hope that we can do it.
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