The 120-mile-long Florida Keys island chain is linked to mainland Florida by U.S. 1, the Overseas Highway. It is paralleled by the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef. The extraordinary reef ecosystem, much like a tropical rainforest, supports a unique diversity of plants and animals.
To protect this reef, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary was established in 1990 by the U.S. government. The Sanctuary encompasses 2,800 square nautical miles of coastal and oceanic waters and submerged lands. Not only does this area surround the entire land mass of the Florida Keys, it also includes vast stretches of Florida Bay, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to this marine resource, the island chain contains many natural habitats that are home to numerous native plants & animals. For example, the Lower Keys are home to the National Key Deer Refuge, established in 1957 to protect and preserve habitats for wildlife, most notably the diminutive Key deer.
The South Florida Conservation Program of The Nature Conservancy, based in an office on Big Key Pine, works on conservation issues that affect land and marine species and their habitats throughout the region and their sustainable use by people. The Nature Conservancy also partners with other organizations that have compatible missions. Volunteer opportunities with The Nature Conservancy or with these other organizations are often available.
Potential volunteers who want to learn more or are interested in helping with our conservation efforts, including hands-on preserve field work and office and administrative support may call (305) 872-7071 or e-mail Patti Snyder, Office Manager, Florida Keys office.