The list of applicants seeking roughly $11 million in federal funds for environmental and capital improvement projects has grown by 12 new projects.
The deadline for these projects closed Friday afternoon with nearly $20 million in new requests, according Monroe County Legislative Affairs Director Lisa Tennyson, who is overseeing the funding.
The number of applicants went from 33 local government agencies and private groups seeking $48 million to 45 applicants requesting $67.3 million, Tennyson said.
Last month, Monroe County reopened the application period for Gulf of Mexico Restore Act funding after two groups that missed the deadline came forward requesting funding. The monies come from Clean Water Act fines levied on BP and Transocean for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
"Once again, we received lots of applications requesting funding, with a wide assortment of interesting projects from throughout the Florida Keys," Tennyson said. "Many, many of them look like really worthwhile projects with promising positive environmental impacts."
Next, the applications will be forwarded to the members of the county's Local Restore Act Committee.
"They'll be conducting their individual evaluations of the applications in the coming weeks, and will come together as a group in the next month or so to evaluate and rank them," Tennyson said. "Unfortunately, the total request amount far exceeds the funding we're likely to receive."
Those rankings will then go to Monroe County commissioners for review and final approval. The applications will be available for public review early next week on the county's website.
The new applications include:
• $1.7 million request by the Marathon Turtle Hospital so it can purchase its Marathon property.
• The Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society is seeking $50,000 so it can modify the old turtle cannery building in the Key West Bight, which it operates as a museum. Currently, the museum details the days when the turtle fishery was open, but it wants to expand the program to include exhibits and programs on turtle conservation, according to a cursory review of the applications.
• A group called the Conservation Fund wants $3.6 million to purchase 1,300 acres of land on Sugarloaf Key to set aside for conservation.
• The Village of Islamorada is seeking $3.8 million for canal restoration projects.
• The Schooner Western Union Preservation Society is requesting $450,000 to put toward retrofitting the historic wooden sailing vessel that serves as the official flagship for the state of Florida, said John Dolan-Heitlinger, preservation society treasurer.