Florida Keys

A U.S. Navy jet crashed on approach to the Naval Air Station Key West airfield at Boca Chica Key Wednesday afternoon, killing both aviators.

The F/A-18F Super Hornet was on final approach to the runway at the airfield. The crew, based at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia, was in Key West on a training mission.

Rescue crews found the pilot and weapons system officer in the water about a mile east of the runway and took them to Lower Keys Medical Center. They were both declared dead, according to a statement from the Navy.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Key West voters Tuesday approved raising the height limit from 25 to 40 feet of habitable space on a 2.62-acre parcel of city-owned property.

The goal is to provide 104 units of affordable workforce housing.

The land is on Stock Island, the island just east of Key West, but is within the incorporated city limits. The land was formerly used by an Easter Seals therapy center and includes the Lower Keys offices of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, which is moving out.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

When legislative budget chiefs agreed during negotiations to spend $1.5 million on a study about extending a toll road north to Georgia, they started to lock into Florida’s new budget some of the 78 recommendations a House select committee created in the wake of last year’s deadly hurricane season.

Also crossing the finish line as the annual legislative session ended Sunday was storm-related money for farm repairs, nursing homes to buy generators, affordable housing in Monroe County and to help students displaced from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Service

When Hurricane Irma crossed the Florida Keys six months ago, the Upper Keys village of Islamorada was 50 miles from the eye, which held the storm's strongest winds.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

The Florida Keys have been in an affordable housing crisis for years. It’s a simple matter of limited supply and very high demand. Then, in September, Hurricane Irma destroyed or caused major damage to thousands of homes — more than 7 percent of the homes in the Keys were destroyed or suffered major damage.

Mark Hedden / markhedden.com

Is there anything more Floridian than a flamingo?

They’re everywhere. Pink plastic ornaments dotting lawns. On cocktail swizzlers and motel signs.

Real, live Flamingos occasionally show up in the Everglades. A couple years ago a big flock showed up in a Palm Beach County stormwater treatment area. But the official story is that these birds don't belong here. That Florida's flamingos were all hunted out of existence back in the 19th century.

Yesterday's Florida Keys / The Ketch & Yawl Press

When you’re talking about the protection of birds, in the U.S. and especially in South Florida, there’s one man who had an outsize impact — even if his name is barely remembered now.

That man is Robert Porter Allen.

Allen was the researcher from the National Audubon Society who established Audubon’s Tavernier Science Center in 1939. (It's now Audubon of Florida's Everglades Science Center.)

Cammy Clark / Monroe County

More than five months after Hurricane Irma crossed the Florida Keys, clean-up began of the canals that cut through much of the island chain.

Many canals, especially in the Lower Keys where the storm’s eye crossed, were full of debris including RVs, appliances and structural materials ripped from homes.

The county estimates that Irma left 100,000 cubic yards of debris in Keys canals and that removing it will cost between $15 million and $30 million.

Emily Michot / Miami Herald

The last couple of years have not been kind to the endangered Key deer.

Climate change is forcing people in the Florida Keys to spend millions of dollars to raise some of their roads as sea levels rise.

Wikimedia Commons

The Florida Keys are famous as a place to party. That's how they got the nickname "Margaritaville."

But the hard-drinking lifestyle is taking a toll on the residents.

More than seven years after someone swiped a 17th century gold bar from a museum in Key West, federal prosecutors have indicted two men for stealing the artifact.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

In a lot of ways life has returned to normal in most of the Florida Keys. But one major institution – a hospital – is still operating out of temporary quarters after Hurricane Irma. 

Gwen Filosa / Keynoter

The only organization providing hospice care in the Lower Keys is closing.

Charles Trainor Jr. / Miami Herald

On an unseasonably cool day in the Florida Keys, a manatee drifted through a canal, stopping occasionally to graze on an algae-slimed recreational vehicle that just barely crested the water’s surface.

That sunken RV is just one of 16 swept from the adjacent streets by Hurricane Irma in September. This 18-foot deep canal — filled with more wrecked homes than bobbing boats — is just one of hundreds in the island chain still clogged with storm trash.

But a canal clean-up in the Keys could finally be near.

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