Florida Keys National Park?

Local pols seek Park Service help to preserve land
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Local pols seek Park Service help to preserve land

While our national parks are long on stunning scenery and fantastic outdoor pursuits, they're usually a bit short on margaritas and Jimmy Buffett. That could change: A coalition of Florida Keys residents and politicians hope to make a portion of their islands the nation's 59th national park.

County officials from Florida's Monroe County hope that the National Park Service will bite on their proposal to purchase several thousand acres of unbuildable and environmentally sensitive land in the Florida Keys for a cool $1.2 billion.

"Let's put a working group, a task force, whatever you want to call it, together and review the possibilities," Gastesi said. "We need to move forward and we're going to evaluate seeking some kind of national park status for the Keys. We don't know what that is. We're reaching out to the feds, the federal government, and saying help us."

Because of local environmental rules, construction isn't allowed on much of the Keys, but the county fears lawsuits from disgruntled landowners. They also know that they can't purchase the hyper-expensive beachfront property; the county gleans little income from the area's 77,000 residents.

The issue is controversial one, and if Florida Keys National Park ever becomes a reality, it won't happen anytime soon. But I can just picture the unconventional welcome at the entrance kiosks:

"Welcome to Florida Keys National Park. Here's your map, park newsletter, hammock, and a pina colada. Enjoy your visit!"

— Ted Alvarez

County wants to be 59th national park (Keysnet)