A boater who ran his craft aground in Everglades National Park four years ago has agreed to pay the park $295,000 to help restore damage caused to seagrass beds in Florida Bay.
The award was the result of a civil lawsuit the government filed on behalf of the park. It arose after David E. Marlow ran his boat, the 72-foot-long "Rebell Yell," aground on Arsenic Bank in the southwestern portion of Florida Bay back on February 12, 2006, the park said in a release. Mr. Marlow was en route from Snead Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast to Miami. Attempts to power the vessel off the shoal resulted in significant damage to the seagrass environment on the shallow bank, the park said, adding that this resource damage is significant as the seagrass beds serve as nurseries for lobster, crabs, shrimp and other recreational and commercially important fish and invertebrates.
The lawsuit was filed under the "Park System Resource Protection Act," which allows the National Park Service to seek compensation for injuries to park resources and use the recovered funds to restore and monitor such resources. Everglades National Park will engage in a dynamic restoration program at this site, an effort that will include filling in the large holes and planting seagrass, the park said.
"I’m very pleased that the Rebel Yell case has now been settled and that the park has secured funding to carry out necessary seagrass restoration measures in response to this significant grounding," said Everglades Superintendent Dan Kimball.
Florida Bay encompasses approximately 300,000 acres of the 1.5 million acres within Everglades National Park. The entire bay bottom was designated as "wilderness" by Congress in 1978. It is included in the 1.3-million-acre Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness. The park has identified significant damage to seagrassbeds by motorboat propellers. As these damages impact wilderness character, the park is developing a seagrass restoration program as well as management strategies intended to reduce future impacts for inclusion in the park’s General Management Plan.
Park Rangers will continue their efforts to educate visitors on ways to minimize their impact on the bay bottom, as well as responding to grounded vessels and taking appropriate legal action for damage to park.