Florida Keys

David Salay / Bender & Associates Architects

The Key West Art and Historical Society already maintains some of the island's most important historic buildings, like the lighthouse and the Custom House. And now the group is taking on another.

John Teets

Finding an affordable home in the Florida Keys is a real challenge. And so is finding a home for the Key West homeless shelter.

Key West has had a shelter next to the Monroe County jail on Stock Island for more than a decade. It's called KOTS - which stands for Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter. It houses about 150 people in seven temporary structures.

The city agreed to move KOTS, after residents of a condo and marina complex next door sued. And the sheriff wanted the land to build housing for employees.

Environmental Protection Agency

When Key West city commissioners approved a ban on the sale of some sunscreens, some said it wasn't just to protect the reef that has protected the island for centuries.

Commissioner Jimmy Weekley said Key West is leading the continental U.S., and is already receiving global attention for its action.

"Key West, the 3-by-5-mile island, is going to take a major step to help preserve our environment — the environment of every citizen of the world," he said.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Key West has become the first place in the mainland U.S. to ban the sale of sunscreens containing two chemicals that have been found in some studies to harm corals.

"There are thousands and thousands of various alternative sunscreens that can be used. But we only have one reef," said Commissioner Jimmy Weekley, one of the sponsors of the ordinance.

It won final approval by a 6-1 vote Tuesday night.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

In the Florida Keys, the challenges of finding an affordable place to live were made much worse after Hurricane Irma destroyed or severely damaged thousands of homes in September 2017.

A number of nonprofits and faith groups came in to help after the storm. One church in Marathon was already there — and is taking a big step in providing housing for people in the Keys who lost their homes.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

The Miami Blue is the Rasputin of butterflies.

But biologists are hoping for a happier ending for the Miami Blue than the early 20th Century Russian mystic who survived one assassination attempt after another … before he was eventually killed.

Miami Blue butterflies were once common throughout coastal South Florida. But by the early 1990s, you could only find them on Key Biscayne. Then Hurricane Andrew came through in 1992 and that colony disappeared. People thought they were extinct.

Courtesy Andrew Bruckner / NOAA

After stony coral tissue loss disease reached the Lower Keys last spring, the disease seemed to stall. Reef scientists were hoping that meant it might peter out.

But it didn't.

FKAA

As the federal government shutdown passes the one-month mark, many furloughed workers are having trouble paying the bills. One South Florida utility is giving them a break.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

The city of Key West took the first step Tuesday toward becoming the first place on the mainland U.S. to ban the sale of sunscreens that contain certain chemicals, like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which some studies have shown can harm corals. 

Monroe County

When Hurricane Irma slammed across the Lower Keys as a Category 4 storm last year, it hammered what passes for affordable housing — mobile homes and older structures that weren't elevated.

For people who are left with a piece of land but not a lot of money to rebuild, Monroe County plans to commission four tiny homes as a pilot project.

Off Cedar Key on Florida's west coast, the water is some of the most pristine in the Gulf. The estuary there has long supported a thriving seafood industry.

Sue Colson, a city commissioner in Cedar Key, says one of the best places to harvest oysters used to be the Lone Cabbage oyster reef, about a mile offshore. When the tide was really low, she says there were so many oysters that she and her husband could walk along the reef picking them up.

The Ocean Agency

Time is running out to save the world’s coral reefs from irreversible damage, according to numerous studies

Stephanie Russo / Monroe County

Flooding is a fact of life in the low-lying Florida Keys. And it's projected to get worse. According to Monroe County, this is the third most vulnerable county in the country to tidal flooding.

Gwen Filosa / flkeysnews.com

A Keys man who was held at the Monroe County jail on a federal immigration detainer — even though he's a U.S. citizen — is now suing Monroe Sheriff Rick Ramsay in federal court.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Monroe County has recently had some of Florida's highest rates of suicide. With the numbers increasing nationally and locally, people in the Keys are stepping up to prevent more deaths.

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