News Release Header
For Immediate Release:
December 13, 2013
Media Contact:
Luis Espinoza

Miami-Dade County's Mooring Buoy Program received a $7,000 donation from a local organization to help protect our coral reefs

From left to right: Rebecca Ross, DERM, Commissioner Jose Pepe Diaz, Mike Beach, Nick Morrell,
Jason Bacon of Reef Guard, Lee N. Hefty and Stephen Blair of DERM.
DERM receives a $7,000 donation towards its Mooring Buoy Program from the Miami-Dade Reef Guard Association.
Additional pictures are available upon request.

(MIAMI, December 13, 2013) – The Miami-Dade County Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources Division of Environmental Resources Management (DERM) received a $7,000 donation in support of its Mooring Buoy Program during a special award presentation sponsored by Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose Pepe Diaz at the Board of County Commissioners Chamber on Thursday, December 12th.  The Miami-Dade Reef Guard Association, a local not for profit organization, donated the funds to help with the maintenance of 42 mooring buoys at nine reef locations from offshore of Sunny Isles to Key Biscayne.  The main purpose for these buoys is to allow boaters, divers, and fisherman to tie their vessels to a buoy instead of dropping their anchors onto the fragile coral reefs. 

The Mooring Buoy Program was established in 2009 with grant support from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  Initially, twenty-two of the 42 current buoys were installed at five natural reef sites and one artificial reef site. Shortly after that, with additional funding from FWC, and in partnership with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Coral Reef Conservation Program (FDEP CRCP), an additional 20 mooring buoys were installed at the five original natural reef sites and two additional natural reef sites, locally known as Rainbow Reef and RJ’s Ledge. 

Nonetheless, additional funds are still needed to assist with the on-going maintenance of the 42 buoys and possible expansion of the program.  Corporations and residents alike can “Adopt-a-Buoy” by making a donation to the program.  “Providing boaters with the option to tie up to a mooring buoy instead of dropping an anchor on the fragile reef below is an important step in protecting one of Florida’s greatest natural treasures,” said Mr. Lee Hefty, Director of the County’s Division of Environmental Resources Management (DERM).  “Thanks to the contribution from Reef Guard and other sponsors we will be able to maintain our Mooring Buoy Program.  However, expansion of the program is also key for its success, so we urge businesses and our community to look into sponsorship opportunities for our Adopt-a-Buoy Program,” added Mr. Hefty. 

For more information on sponsorship opportunities for the Adopt-a-Buoy Program, please visit or contact the program staff at

The Division of Environmental Resources Management also offers an interactive Artificial Reef Locator on its website for those interested in exploring the locations of artificial reefs throughout the waters off Miami-Dade County.  Through this web tool, residents can find specific reefs by name, site, or depth and material type. 

To view the Artificial Reef Locator, go to

While local, state and federal agencies are working together to protect Florida’s coral reefs, residents and visitors alike can also help by implementing four simple tips: 

  1. Minimize the use of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides to reduce groundwater and coastal waterway contamination.
  2. Dispose of household chemicals at designated hazardous waste facilities, which can be harmful to the environment if disposed of improperly.
  3. Anchor boats in the sand or tie them up to mooring buoys to minimize damage to coral reefs.
  4. Practice proper weighting and buoyancy when scuba diving to minimize contact with and damage of fragile coral reefs. 

The Miami-Dade Reef Guard Association is a local not for profit corporation whose main goals are to provide collective assistance in promoting, funding and organizing of resources for the installation and maintenance of mooring buoys on the reefs adjacent to Miami-Dade County, to support artificial reef deployment and increase education and awareness of the need for natural reef conservation in coastal waters adjacent to Miami-Dade County.  Reef Guard sells medallions online and at participating dive shops and charters to support their efforts with currently 90% of raised funds going to the mooring buoy program.  For more information, visit