Environmental groups question Florida seagrass restoration effort

On 95 acres of ocean floor near the Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys, a seagrass meadow damaged by boaters is Exhibit A in an environmental group's controversial quest to start a new marine mitigation fund for Florida.

Washington-based Ocean Foundation has applied to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for permission to create the fund as a way for private developers or public agencies to mitigate marine habitat destruction that occurs as a result of coastal construction projects. An initial report on the restoration work at Knights Key Bank, the first project, shows some success repairing the important marine habitat.

But the program, called SeaGrass Grow, is being criticized by other environmental groups that say mitigation funds do more harm than good and that the foundation has no track record of long-term success restoring seagrass.

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