Coast Guard cautions boaters of unsafe reef lights in Florida Keys

MIAMI — The Coast Guard is directing mariners to not climb historical reef lights in the Florida Keys due to their deterioration and unsound structural integrity.

These lights include:

  •  Alligator Reef Light
  •  American Shoal Reef Light
  •  Carysfort Reef Light
  •  Sand Key Reef Light
  •  Sombrero Key Reef Light

While these structures are not at risk of collapsing, they have been determined to be unsafe for climbing.

Due to extensive deterioration of the structures, cost to repair them and the inability to safely maintain them as navigational aids, the Coast Guard plans to shift current lighting from Alligator, American Shoal and Sombrero Key Reef Lights to more cost effective structures with more reliable lighting equipment. These new structures are designed to reduce the environmental footprint in the area.

The historical structures are not scheduled to be removed. To date, conversions of Carysfort and Sand Key Reef Lights have been completed. Plans to transfer the historic structures to the General Services Administration continue.

The new aids to navigation are designed to provide more cost effective operation and maintenance than the existing reef lights. The new lights will be built at an estimated cost of $100,000. Estimates to repair the existing historic structures would have cost taxpayers approximately $2 million per light.

The sites for the new aids to navigation have been approved by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and do not pose an environmental risk.

As a reminder, boaters are prohibited from tying off to, climbing, anchoring to or trespassing on any aid to navigation.

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