Florida Keys and South Florida Ecosystem Connectivity Team

cormorants on a mangrove stump
These cormorants are hanging out on mangroves, which are specially adapted to survive in saltier water. Their tangled root systems help break waves in tidal ecosystems, reducing erosion and allowing sediment to settle out of the water. Nutrient exchange and calm waters near mangroves also provide excellent nurseries for a variety of marine organisms. Photo Credit: David J. Ruck/NOAA

The Florida Keys are part of a complex hydrological system that is influenced by waters from the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, as well as the Greater Everglades ecosystem, which includes Lake Okeechobee and its headwaters, The Everglades Agricultural Area, Water Conservation Areas, Everglades National Park, Florida Bay, Biscayne Bay, Biscayne National Park and mainland south Florida. As such, Keys' water quality is highly influenced by factors that originate outside the islands and waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

The Florida Keys Sanctuary Advisory Council and Water Quality Protection Program have created a joint working group for the purpose of facilitating multi-agency and stakeholder collaboration related to Everglades restoration and other regional issues of importance to water quality, habitats and living marine resources within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.


  • Inform and engage members of the SAC, WQPP and the Florida Keys community in South Florida Ecosystem Restoration by providing regular updates at meetings, facilitating dialogue, and generating recommendations that can be made on behalf of the SAC and WQPP to decision makers.
  • Ensure the interests of the FKNMS are represented in South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force and other relevant decision-making processes by staying involved in ongoing activities, including opportunities for public participation and engagement, and providing direct input from the SAC and WQPP to the NOAA Task Force representatives and other relevant agencies and decision makers as needed.
  • Facilitate regular participation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District at working group, SAC and WQPP meetings to allow information sharing and dialogue.
  • Provide a platform for collaboration between members of the SAC, WQPP and Florida Keys community on South Florida Ecosystem Restoration and other South Florida regional issues of mutual interest and most urgent importance to the Florida Keys.


Advisory Council Lead: Jerry Lorenz

Advisory Council/WQPP Steering Committee Representatives:

Will Benson, SAC (Fishing - Charter Fishing Flats Guide)
Erinn Muller, SAC (Research and Monitoring)
Chris Bergh, WQPP Steering Committee
Shelly Krueger, SAC (Education and Outreach)/WQPP Steering Committee
Kelly Cox, SAC (South Florida Ecosystem Restoration)/WQPP Steering Committee

Community Experts:

Suzy Roebling, Citizen at Large
Steve Friedman, Upper Keys Fishing Guide
Mike Goldberg, Key Dives/Islamorada Conservation and Restoration Education (I.CARE)
Emma Haydocy, Surfrider Foundation
Steve Davis, Everglades Foundation
Cara Capp, National Parks Conservation Association
Matt Semcheski, College of the Florida Keys
Paul Julian, Everglades Foundation
Raechel Littman, Florida Bay Forever
Phanor Montoya Maya, Coral Restoration Foundation

Agency Advisors:

Gina Ralph, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Christopher Madden, South Florida Water Management District
Nicholas Parr, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Luke McEachron, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Adam Gelber, Office of Everglades Restoration Initiatives
Steven Blackburn, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Tylan Dean, National Park Service

FKNMS Staff Lead: Karen Bohnsack


Beginning May 2021, meetings of the Connectivity Team will be held every other month on the 3rd Tuesday, from 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM.

To join these meetings virtually via the Google Meet Platform:

Log-in online at: meet.google.com/jvp-qzzp-gxx (recommended) or join by phone: 225-414-2291; PIN: 776-665-531.

July 2024 Meeting: Canceled

Meeting #17: Tuesday, September 17, 2024

  • Agenda TBD

Meeting #18: Tuesday, November 19, 2024

  • Agenda TBD

Meeting Notes

Meeting #1: Tuesday, March 18, 2021

Other Materials

Meeting #2: Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Meeting #3: Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Meeting #4: Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Meeting #5: Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Meeting #6: Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Meeting #7: Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Meeting #8: Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Meeting #9: Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Meeting #10: Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Meeting #11: Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Meeting #12: Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Meeting #13: Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Meeting #14: Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Meeting #15: Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Meeting #16: Tuesday, May 21, 2024