* DEP Home * About DEP * Programs * Contact * Site Map * Search *
 Lignumvitae Key Aquatic Preserve Project Spotlight


Conch in seagrass bed

Key Accomplishments

  • Enhanced participation in the Seagrass Outreach Partnership (SOP) has allowed for a greater capacity to educate people about the importance of seagrasses to the local economy and ecology. The SOP was formed in 1997 and provides information that helps boaters minimize impacts to the many shallow seagrass beds in Florida waters.
  • A strengthened relationship with DEP environmental resource permitting program has allowed for more streamlined approach when addressing projects within and adjacent to the aquatic preserve.
  • Aquatic preserve educational signs have been redesigned and replaced in the lower Florida Keys. The signs were positioned along fishing bridges and in highly visible locations near and adjacent to the aquatic preserve to ensure the information was readily available to visitors.

Vase sponge

Partnerships for Protection

Lignumvitae Key Aquatic Preserve is one of the southernmost aquatic preserves. It is located in the lower half of the Florida Keys archipelago and lies within the boundaries of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS). Established in 1990, the FKNMS afforded a higher level of protection through both state and federal management. Due to the increasing threats to each of the habitats that comprise the sub-tropical ecosystem of the Florida Keys, this state - federal partnership provides protection to 2,900 square nautical miles surrounding the entire archipelago of the Florida Keys, including the Lignumvitae Key Aquatic Preserve. The Florida Park Service handles much of the site management of the preserve as part of the Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park which overlaps most of the preserve.

 Quick Facts about Lignumvitae Key Aquatic Preserve
Map of Lignumvitae Key Aquatic Preserve


Monroe County


7,000 acres of sovereign submerged lands


Joanna Walczak, Environmental Administrator
1277 NE 79th Street Causeway
Miami, FL 331328

Download a printable version of this page.

Lignumvitae Key Aquatic Preserve Management Plan

Christmas worm on a coral

Christmas worm on a coral

Spiny lobster

Spiny lobster

Turtle grass

Turtle grass

Star coral

Star coral

  • Lignumvitae Key Aquatic Preserve encompasses 7,000 acres of seagrass meadows, deep water channels, hard bottom communities and mangrove wetlands.
  • Rare wading birds can often be observed foraging in the shallow waters of the tropical lagoon and amongst the mangroves.
  • Activities within the preserve include boating, snorkeling, diving, commercial fishing, marine life collecting, charter sport fishing and recreational fishing for finfish and lobster.
  • The tropical hardwood hammock that thrives on Lignumvitae Key is one of the few remaining virgin forests of its type in Florida's Upper Keys.
  • In 1919, William J. Matheson, a wealthy Miami chemist, bought this tiny island and built a caretaker's home with a windmill for electricity and a cistern for rainwater. This building is now the visitor center for the park and is only accessible by boat.

Last updated: August 07, 2015

  3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 235 Tallahassee, Florida 32399 850-245-2094
Contact Us 
DEP Home | About DEP  | Contact Us | Search |  Site Map