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New Access Corridors for Boaters in Florida Bay

March 2017 – After years of planning and public input, Everglades National Park is implementing a new system of access corridors, aids to navigation and channel markers in Florida Bay with the support of the South Florida National Parks Trust and its donors. The project is part of a larger effort to implement key elements of the park’s new General Management Plan. The plan was adopted in 2015. The final plan and related documents are available at: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectId=11170.

Here’s an update on the project released by the park this month:

Project Overview

Everglades National Park is installing new access corridor markers and signs in Florida Bay, as a key component of the park’s integrated 2015 General Management Plan (GMP) implementation strategy to enhance protection and enjoyment of the park’s marine areas.

As described in the Final GMP, these access corridors were recognized as appropriate for navigating across, or to reach key destinations in, Florida Bay while helping to define the shallow-water protection zones being established to protect the flats, seagrass beds and submerged wilderness resources of the bay.

Boaters in Florida Bay may have seen the results of phase 1 of this project in recent weeks. Work on 12 of the new 31 corridors is complete (see list below), mostly in the area east and south of Flamingo. The remaining work in Florida Bay will continue through April 2017. Boaters should become familiar with the new corridors and the changes to existing channels covered under this project, and must follow rules posted as the new markers and signs are installed.

Additional project details and an interactive web map are available at: https://www.nps.gov/ever/learn/management/florida-bay-new-access-corridor-markers-and-signs.htm.

This project is made possible by the National Park Service and generous donations to the South Florida National Parks Trust by Yamaha, the American Sportfishing Association, and from the Herman Lucerne Memorial Foundation.

Details for Boaters

Corridors completed:

  • On-plane corridors:  Dave Foy, Dump Keys (south of current channel), Madeira  Bay, and Terrapin Bay
  • Idle-speed corridors:  Snake Bight East (off Snake Bight Channel), Porpoise Point, Garfield Bight, Rankin Bight, Santini Bight (east and west), and Terrapin West (off of the main Terrapin Bay on-plane corridor)
  • On-plane and idle speed corridor: Frank Key (on-plane for northern segment to Frank Key and idle-speed for the southern segment).

Changes to existing channels under this project:

  • Twisty-mile Channel: to be an idle-speed corridor, and adjacent area a pole/troll zone
  • Dump Key Channel: a new corridor was installed just south of the original channel; later in 2017, the original channel will be eliminated and be part of a pole/troll zone
  • North Jimmy Channel: a new corridor to be installed just north of the original channel; later in 2017, the original channel will be eliminated and be part of a pole/troll zone
  • Pollock Key Channel and Bob Allen South Cut: an alternative on-plane corridor to be installed (called Bob Allen Pass) to improve access and better protect resources; later this year these two short cuts will become part of pole/troll zones.

Related GMP Implementation Projects:

  • Completed – Joe Bay/Snag Bay area opened to the public use last November as a no-motor zone/catch-and-release fishing area https://www.nps.gov/ever/learn/news/joe-bay-is-open-to-non-motorized-boating.htm
  • Underway and expected to be implemented this year – the park’s boater education and permit program; availability of park electronic navigation products (from GPS companies, and a park boating app); and an Everglades National Park marine waters boating guide, developed with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission

For questions regarding the GMP and implementation projects please contact Fred Herling, Park Planner at fred_herling@nps.gov or 305-242-7704.

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