(Miami, Florida) – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, together with Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Noah Valenstein, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Executive Director Eric Sutton and other state and scientific community partners, joined FORCE BLUE team members for the launch of 100 Yards of Hope at a January 30th press conference in Miami.
100 Yards of Hope is a coral reef restoration project in conjunction with FORCE BLUE to plant 100 yards of coral while also honoring the NFL’s 100th season and America’s military veterans.
“Florida is proud to be the only state in the continental U.S. with a nearshore coral reef,” said Governor DeSantis. “That is why today I am excited to help kickoff of “100 Yards of Hope,” a coral restoration project by the veterans of FORCE BLUE, and announce a new initiative to promote awareness and protection of Florida’s Coral Reef ecosystem. By protecting and restoring Florida’s coral reef, we are protecting a state treasure. Florida is not Florida without its coral reefs.”
“Florida’s Coral Reef is not only beloved by Floridians and millions worldwide, it’s also critical for our state’s coastal resilience,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “Our goal with this campaign is to show Floridians how important this reef system is to protect our coastal communities from extreme weather, shoreline erosion, and coastal flooding. We are eager to showcase the critical ongoing efforts to protect this one-of-a-kind Florida treasure.”
About 100 Yards of Hope
The year-long coral reef restoration project will feature FORCE BLUE veteran divers working alongside scientists from the University of Miami’s Rescue A Reef program, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to restore a football field-length stretch of coral reef in the waters off Key Biscayne.
The idea behind 100 Yards of Hope grew from an initial out-planting of 100 corals last June as part of the “greening” of Super Bowl LIV. That project united FORCE BLUE divers with NFL Green, Verizon, and the scientific partners mentioned above through the Super Bowl LIV Host Committee’s Oceans to Everglades initiative. 100 corals were planted to restore a section of Rainbow Reef off Key Biscayne. Scientists have been monitoring these corals and they are thriving, providing both hope and a framework for future restoration projects.
Seed funding for 100 Yards of Hope is being provided by a combination of public and private sector partners, including the FDEP, NOAA, GreaterGood.org, Free the Ocean, The Veterans’Site and PADI. FORCE BLUE has launched a donation platform through GreaterGood.org, a national nonprofit that protects people, pets and the planet, through which public citizens can get involved. For as little as $25, individuals will be able to “sponsor” a FORCE BLUE veteran’s dives or help fund the out-planting of corals.