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New grants help Dry Tortugas, Everglades parks

Renovations to the Everglades National Park center at Flamingo will create the Guy Bradley Visitor Center, funded by newly announced grants.
Renovations to the Everglades National Park center at Flamingo will create the Guy Bradley Visitor Center, funded by newly announced grants.

Nearly $1 million in new funding will go toward renovations in national parks in Monroe County and South Florida, the National Park Service says.

At Everglades National Park, a $720,000 project will refurbish part of the main Flamingo park building to include the new Guy Bradley Visitor Center, dedicated to the pioneering game warden slain in 1905 while pursuing bird-plume poachers.

The former Flamingo restaurant, largely destroyed by Hurricanes Wilma and Katrina in 2005, will be remodeled into a meeting space and improved visitor center.

“Work on the Guy Bradley Visitor Center should be completed at about the same time new lodging and a new restaurant are planned in Flamingo,” park spokeswoman Denese Canedo said.

Guy Bradley was working for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office as a special wildlife enforcement officer when he was killed at age 35. Outrage over Bradley’s slaying helped create the national park and end the trade in feathers from South Florida’s waterbirds.

Dry Tortugas National Park, west of Key West, will receive nearly $238,000 “to stabilize 16 traverse gunpowder magazines built during the Civil War on Fort Jefferson’s roof.”

“These magazines housed ammunition and provided cover from return fire. They have had very little maintenance since their construction in the 1860s,” Canedo said. “This project will help reduce safety hazards and preserve the historic significance of the fort.”

The Dry Tortugas grant was supported by the HTR Foundation through the South Florida National Parks Trust.

The South Florida funding for national parks is part of a $50 million nationwide program called the Centennial Challenge. The U.S. Congress allocated $20 million with park partners expected to raise an additional $33 million in matching money “to improve trails, restore buildings and increase visitor access to parks.”

Kevin Wadlow: 305-440-3206

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