Parks & Beaches

Two Upper Keys Little League players throw a ball to each other on the newly refurbished clay

Our Mission

To provide quality parks, beaches, facilities, amenities, and services to meet the recreation needs of the entire Keys Community by utilizing the resources of our team, volunteers, and partners. We create opportunities to enjoy life, explore nature, and energize your health.

Enjoy, Explore, Energize

Sargassum Seaweed Influx

Over the past few weeks, you may have noticed a heavier influx of brownish sargassum (seaweed) along our shoreline. Monroe County continues to safely remove excess seaweed from our beaches at Higgs Beach in Key West and Harry Harris Park in Key Largo. Clean-up crews operate on a daily basis after surveying the area for sea turtle nest and will do twice-daily cleanings if the weed load becomes too much. 

Why can’t seaweed be removed from the water before it reaches the shoreline?
State and federal environmental regulations prohibit the removal of seaweed from the water prior to its landing on the shore. The water is under the jurisdiction of the state.

Is it harmful to beachgoers?

According to the Florida Health Department, as sargassum decomposes, it gives off a substance called hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide has a very unpleasant odor, like rotten eggs. Although the seaweed itself cannot harm people, tiny sea creatures that live in sargassum can cause skin rashes and blisters. Hydrogen sulfide can also irritate the eyes, nose , and throat. If you have asthma or other breathing illnesses, you'll be more sensitive to these symptoms. However, the levels of hydrogen sulfide in an area like the beach, with large amounts of airflow, are not expected to harm health.

What are the benefits of sargassum?
Sargassum provides crucial habitat for many marine species, including endangered sea turtles, which, upon hatching on our beaches, make their way out to the sargassum to spend their juvenile years feeding and growing amongst the seaweed mats. It is also an important element in shoreline stability. It also provides nutrients to the shoreline and can replenish areas that suffer beach erosion due to hurricanes and storms, thereby helping to keep our shorelines resilient.

Florida Dept. of Health Health Beaches Program

The Florida Dept. of Health monitors the water quality at public beaches in Monroe County. The results of Monroe County owned and maintained, and other public beaches within Monroe County can be found on the following website.

  1. Parks & Beaches

    Physical Address
    102050 Overseas Hwy
    Key Largo, FL 33047

  2. Headshot of John Allen, Monroe County Director of Parks and Beaches

    John Allen

    Director of Parks & Beaches

  3. Naomi Pagidas

    Executive Assistant

  4. Tom Henry

    Parks & Beaches Manager

  5. Kirrin Peart

    Recreation Team Leader