THE ISSUE: Lyngbya cleanup grants.
OUR OPINION: Fueling the momentum.
Few if any local initiatives have been as impressive and physically grueling as the One Rake at a Time Lyngbya algae cleanup project headed by Art Jones.
While Jones and a committed cast of volunteers have led the charge, having grant money to employ laborers has enhanced the impact of the project.
Once the project got rolling and its impact caught the attention of those with influence, grant dollars and financial allocations became available, enabling the utilization of a limited number of people paid to remove the noxious water weed via hand-held rakes.
Unfortunately, the well of money ran dry midway through last year, putting the project on hold.
That financial well, however, has been refreshed. Thanks to $50,000 from the county, $10,000 from the city of Crystal River, and $60,000 from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, One Rake at a Time is back in the money. That, in turn, means continuing the effort needn’t rely solely on volunteers. Individuals — some homeless, some unemployed — who are fit and willing to receive $2.77 per cubic foot of Lyngbya, or $400 to fill a 145-cubic-foot trailer, can join the cause and earn an occasional paycheck.
Naturally, the funds can only go so far, and more money will be needed to keep the initiative rolling. But the One Rake a Time program is back in action, endeavoring to make a positive environmental impact on selected areas of Crystal River’s King’s Bay.
Jones’ dedication, coupled with the efforts of volunteers and the business model that entices grants and allocations, and employs those who can use the work, continue to have an impact.
It’s no easy undertaking and, in the big picture, is only one element of an elusive solution to rectifying the Lyngbya problem in the bay, but it really is an amazing project and a point of pride for the community.