MONROE COUNTY, FL – Monroe County has been awarded a $49.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to remove Hurricane Irma debris from 103 of the most impacted canals in unincorporated Monroe County, the City of Marathon and the Village of Islamorada.
The grant funding is divided as follows: $35.2 million for unincorporated Monroe County, $7.5 million for Marathon and $6.5 million for Islamorada. Monroe County will coordinate all work, which is expected to begin in August.
USDA-NRCS is providing $37.8 million in reimbursements, with a local match (non-federal funding) of $11.4 million. This $11.4 million is split between the County, Marathon and Islamorada based on construction projections. Monroe County expects to use Florida Keys Stewardship Act funding to cover some of the local match. Eight of these canals are in the Upper Keys, 23 in the Middle Keys and 72 in the Lower Keys.
The grant, which is part of USDA-NRCS’s Emergency Watershed Protection Program, is for canal clearing as a result of Irma.
The grant will be presented to the BOCC’s July meeting for approval.
“Many thanks go to County Administrator Roman Gastesi for leading the effort,” said Monroe County Sustainability Director Rhonda Haag, who is leading the hurricane marine debris removal effort. “It was his idea to work with NRCS in applying for the grant, due to his knowledge of previous NCRS canal clearing work performed after Hurricane Georges.”
Monroe County submitted in February five Damage Survey Report application packages for Irma marine debris removal to the regional office of the National Resources Conservation Services.
“Many thanks also go to our elected officials – U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbello and state Rep. Holly Raschein – for their dedication and work in helping get the grant through the federal system once the USDA-NRCS had approved our project applications,” said Lisa Tennyson, Monroe County’s Director of Legislative Affair.