Virginia Key is a 1,200-acre barrier island situated two miles east of downtown Miami and one mile southwest of Miami Beach. It is located within a highly productive marine corridor consisting of extensive tracts of seagrass beds and coral reefs. Above water, Virginia Key is home to a wide range of coastal habitats including beach and dune, hardwood hammock and mangrove wetlands.

The island has been the site of the deposition of dredging material from the Port of Miami since the 1970s, eliminating its beaches as a loggerhead turtle nesting habitat. Due to historical clearing of vegetation followed by neglect, invasive plants threatened the ecological integrity of Virginia Key.

As part of the Museum Volunteers for the Environment (MUVE) and The Reclamation Project‘s eco-art initiative, parts of Virginia Key have been reforested with mangrove seedlings over the past five years. To date, 11,000 mangrove seedlings representing over eight acres of restored habitat have been replanted in Virginia Key by volunteers.

Volunteers are now working to monitor the habitat restoration using citizen science. Each month, volunteers survey for birds, monitor growth of new vegetation on the dune, collect water quality data, and observe changes in the landscape. Sign up if you’d like to participate.