Florida Keys Secedes and Declares War on United States
On April 23rd, 1982, in response to United States Border Patrol’s establishment of north bound roadblocks on US 1, roadblocks looking for illegal drugs and undocumented immigrants, roadblocks deemed detrimental to the thriving tourist industry, the Mayor of Key West, supported by the city council, declared the independence of the Florida Keys from the United States, calling itself the Conch Republic. With Key West as its capitol, Mayor Dennis Wardlow, now Prime Minister of the new republic, immediately declared war on the United States, surrendering after only one minute of secession to a naval officer at the Key West Naval Air Station. With the surrender, Prime Minister Wardlow promptly requested a billion dollars in US foreign aid. Although losing the war, the Conch Republic was successful in that the roadblock and inspection stations were soon removed, initiating a new wave of tourism sparked by the worldwide media coverage of the secession.
Today’s Environmental Concerns
The popularity of Keys to tourist from the mainland thrived, but its Caribbean style tropical weather, unique culture and storied past also made it a popular international destination. In the 1950s concerns about the Florida Keys ecosystem began in earnest, in part due to the pressure of increased tourism on its reefs and fisheries. Key Largo’s John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the first underseas park in the United States, was designated in 1959. Other marine sanctuary areas were established throughout the end of the 20th century with the intent of protecting the fragile environment. Many addition efforts to mitigate past environmentally harmful policies and practices, including attempts to restore freshwater flows to the Florida Bay and the establishment of central sewers in the Keys, have become priorities to environmentalists and politicians, as well as nearly 80,000 who call the Keys home, including what must be at least thousands of real estate professionals.