Biscayne National Park reopens designated slips in Elliott Key Harbor

Park reopens slips for loading, unloading only

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Elliott Key Harbor has remained closed as a result of damage sustained during Tropical Storm Sandy in late October. The National Park Service says inspection by an engineer had revealed extensive structural damage to the harbor's seawall and boat slips, which made the area unsafe for docking.

Three of the harbor's 33 slips have been repaired in the interim, and marked for loading and unloading with a 10 minute stay limit. NPS says designated slips are located at the southern entrance to the harbor. The two adjacent floating slips are designated for NPS use only.

After unloading passengers and gear, NPS says boats will still need to anchor outside the harbor. Vessels that can be hand-carried to and from the shoreline, such as canoes, kayaks and other small boats, can land on the island. Recommended access is via the swim area on the northern end of the harbor.

"We are doing everything possible to restore Elliott Key Harbor to full operations," said acting Biscayne National Park Superintendent Sula Jacobs.  "Providing a place for boaters to safely unload passengers and gear on Elliott Key is a small step toward improving access for campers and daytime visitors inconvenienced by the closure of the harbor."

NPS says visitors are urged to be alert for swimmers and paddlers in the vicinity of the harbor, and avoid entering closed areas.  As always, landing on the concrete maintenance dock south of the harbor is closed to the public and open to official use only.

Although most of the harbor and the ocean-side boardwalk remain closed, NPS says the restroom facilities, camping areas, hiking trails, and University Dock, north of the harbor, are open to the public.

NPS says all other areas of the park remain open as they were prior to the storm's brush with South Florida. Boca Chita Key is fully open, including the harbor and campground. Only one boat may raft to another boat tied to/docked in the harbor. Adams Key is fully open, but for day use only.

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