Florida Keys

Emily Michot / Miami Herald

The odds are stacked against Florida’s coral reefs.

A mysterious disease is devastating them. So is climate change, which warms and acidifies ocean waters. Development and pollution don’t help much, either.

Landmark federal legislation to help corals expired in 2000, and a new bill introduced Friday by Florida’s Republican senators would revive it.

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

The sparkling waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary help pump $4.4 billion into the state's economy while supporting 43,000 jobs, according to a report published Tuesday.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

The first report came in on Monday. An Antillean Palm-Swift was spotted soaring above Grassy Key.

In the world of serious birders, that's big news.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

Rebuild Florida is a state program that helps people whose homes were severely damaged in Hurricane Irma. The program is also aimed at removing some homes in harm's way .

Jed Dodds

For months, a truck that serves only as a mobile billboard has been driving around downtown Key West. Its days on the island may be numbered.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Key West is taking on the island's abundant wild iguana population. They're everywhere, including city-owned property, from the old landfill known as Mount Trashmore to the historic cemetery in the center of the island. 

Caitie Switalski / WLRN

There are a lot of challenges to living in the Florida Keys. The biggest is the cost of living. But even some people who can afford to live in the Keys are leaving anyway for another reason — the lack of access to medical care.

CLAY DEGAYNER

When the Key Largo cotton mouse and woodrat were placed on the Endangered Species List in 1984, federal scientists named several factors that were imperiling the rodents’ existence. Most serious was the loss of habitat due to development.

Miami Herald archives

A former lead biologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who managed the controversial dredging of PortMiami will plead guilty to lying, her attorney told a Miami federal judge on Tuesday.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

In September 2017, Hurricane Irma destroyed or majorly damaged more than 7 percent of the homes in the Keys. A lot of those were ground level and mobile homes — what passes for affordable housing on the island chain.

On Thursday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis came to Marathon to announce a new state program that will provide $140 million for affordable workforce housing.

DAVID SANTIAGO / MIAMI HERALD

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday announced that Rebuild Florida will launch a workforce housing construction program statewide with $140 million. The Florida Keys will receive $35 million.

Also, state administrators said Monroe County by next week will receive $21 million in FEMA reimbursement for debris removal for Hurricane Irma cleanup. Irma swept through the Keys in September 2017. Debris removal cost the county $30 million.

DeSantis visited Marathon on Thursday to make the announcements. It was his second visit to the Keys in two months.

Monroe County

A new report from a climate change advocacy group estimates the costs of protecting public infrastructure from rising seas. And the Florida Keys are facing one of the biggest bills.

Keys Energy Services

People in South Florida have lots of reasons to resent iguanas. They pillage the garden. They poop in the pool. And in the Keys, they sometimes knock out the power.

Now Keys Energy Services, the utility that provides power from the Seven Mile Bridge to Key West, is taking steps to prevent that.

Emily Michot Miami Herald

Mosquitoes, it turns out, might be their own worst enemy.

In a six-month field trial launched in South Miami last year, Miami-Dade County teamed up with a Kentucky-based pest control company to release male mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia. The bacteria is common in other insects, but when introduced in male Aedes aegypti, it makes them sterile.

Healthy Start of the Florida Keys

If you live in the Florida Keys, there are some real challenges to having a baby. If you want to go to a hospital, you have two options. One is at mile marker 5 in Key West. The other is to go all the way to on the mainland in Homestead. And if you’re a new patient with Medicaid, it gets even harder.

WLRN recently spoke with Arianna Nesbitt, executive director of the Florida Keys Healthy Start Coalition. That's the nonprofit that works with pregnant women and families with young children to keep young kids in the Keys healthy and safe.

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