Nancy Klingener

Nancy Klingener covers the Florida Keys for WLRN. Since moving to South Florida in 1989, she has worked for the Miami HeraldSolares Hill newspaper and the Monroe County Public Library.

She is a Spring 2014 graduate of the Transom Story Workshop. She is on the board of the Key West Literary Seminar and reviews books for the Miami Herald

The state wildlife agency is taking the next step toward establishing — or re-establishing — the American Flamingo as a Floridian bird.

Flamingos had been considered a non-native exotic species for decades, and were listed that way on the state wildlife website. Birds that people saw flying around were thought to be captives that had escaped.

The Florida Keys could be facing a deadline that's unprecedented in South Florida. Four years from now, there might not be any more homes that can be built in the Keys.

The state has a rule that the island chain has to be able to get everyone out 24 hours before a hurricane hits. And there’s just one road out. So there’s a limit to how many people are allowed to live in the Keys.

That means people who live in the Keys — and especially the people who would like to build there in the future — are trying to figure out what to do.

The Key West Art and Historical Society already maintains some of the island's most important historic buildings, like the lighthouse and the Custom House. And now the group is taking on another.

Finding an affordable home in the Florida Keys is a real challenge. And so is finding a home for the Key West homeless shelter.

Key West has had a shelter next to the Monroe County jail on Stock Island for more than a decade. It's called KOTS - which stands for Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter. It houses about 150 people in seven temporary structures.

The city agreed to move KOTS, after residents of a condo and marina complex next door sued. And the sheriff wanted the land to build housing for employees.

When Key West city commissioners approved a ban on the sale of some sunscreens, some said it wasn't just to protect the reef that has protected the island for centuries.

Commissioner Jimmy Weekley said Key West is leading the continental U.S., and is already receiving global attention for its action.

"Key West, the 3-by-5-mile island, is going to take a major step to help preserve our environment — the environment of every citizen of the world," he said.

Key West has become the first place in the mainland U.S. to ban the sale of sunscreens containing two chemicals that have been found in some studies to harm corals.

"There are thousands and thousands of various alternative sunscreens that can be used. But we only have one reef," said Commissioner Jimmy Weekley, one of the sponsors of the ordinance.

It won final approval by a 6-1 vote Tuesday night.

In the Florida Keys, the challenges of finding an affordable place to live were made much worse after Hurricane Irma destroyed or severely damaged thousands of homes in September 2017.

A number of nonprofits and faith groups came in to help after the storm. One church in Marathon was already there — and is taking a big step in providing housing for people in the Keys who lost their homes.

The Miami Blue is the Rasputin of butterflies.

But biologists are hoping for a happier ending for the Miami Blue than the early 20th Century Russian mystic who survived one assassination attempt after another … before he was eventually killed.

After stony coral tissue loss disease reached the Lower Keys last spring, the disease seemed to stall. Reef scientists were hoping that meant it might peter out.

But it didn't.

In the late 19th century, Key West was home to a large community of Cuban exiles. Poet and revolutionary leader José Martí visited the island several times to unite exile factions. On Monday, Marti made a return visit of sorts.

As the federal government shutdown passes the one-month mark, many furloughed workers are having trouble paying the bills. One South Florida utility is giving them a break.

The city of Key West took the first step Tuesday toward becoming the first place on the mainland U.S. to ban the sale of sunscreens that contain certain chemicals, like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which some studies have shown can harm corals. 

Key West holds a lot of parties, parades and even athletic events where people dress up in all forms - including in tutus. Now there's a new initiative to make that happen even more often.

Over the summer, Hawaii became the first place in the United States to ban sunscreens with chemicals that have been found to harm corals. Now Key West is considering a similar ban. And a group opposing the ban is fighting back — online.

If you're in Key West and open a video on YouTube, there's a new ad on heavy rotation.

The Department of the Interior is one of the parts of the federal government affected by the current shutdown. But you can still visit South Florida's national parks.

Tom Brandner and his family were hoping to visit Dry Tortugas National Park during their Key West vacation.

That was not to be — but not because of the shutdown. The ferry to the national park was full.

"We wanted to book it about a month ago, but they were sold out," said Brandner, who is from Columbia, SC.

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