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Protest seeks reopening of Everglades National Park waters

Upper Florida Keys fishing guides are staging a protest today because of the Everglades National Park waters closure and asking Interior Department officials to provide reasonable access if a budget deal can’t be reached on Capitol Hill.

The budget impasse in Congress has resulted in numerous federal closures, including Everglades National Park waters, where a number of upper Florida Keys light tackle fishing guides earn their livelihood, according to a statement from The Florida Keys and Key West tourism group.

Although Keys state and offshore waters remain open for sportfishing, fall is a prime time for anglers who come to the Keys to fish for snook, tarpon, redfish and trout in the park's shallow estuaries.

The park's land and water areas have been closed since Oct. 1. Fishing guides who depend on the resource for income have lost money and are frustrated with Washington leadership's bickering and inability to pass a budget to reopen all federal resources.

They have organized a rally at 1 p.m. and expect that participants on more than 100 boats, kayaks and paddleboards will be near a portion of the eastern boundary of the park this afternoon.