More to the story

After reading the column “Trees replace trash along river,” I thought I should add a correction and some additional information. First, the Living Lands and Waters founder’s name is Chad Pregracke, not Greg. As residents of the area he is from and one of his early supporters, we know Chad, his parents and his efforts well.

As a measure of the impact he and his organization has had, his many honors and awards include being the recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service in 2002, sharing the honor with Bill and Melinda Gates. In 2013, he was named the CNN Hero of the Year.

Partly due to being aware of the good he was doing and knowing how he accomplished it, after I became aware of and involved with the Conch Republic Marine Army, I managed to get Chad connected to Brian Vest of the CRMA. Since then, Chad has offered advice and has made a financial contribution.

A major difference between the two nonprofits is that LL&W gets substantial financial backing from major corporations while the CRMA has not been able to enlist similar sustaining donors. But on their shoestring budget, the CRMA has had 3,500 volunteers work more than 18,000 hours to remove 154 tons of debris from the nearshore waters of the backcountry. Their haul also includes 245 miles of trap line and 82 refrigerators.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, they are not holding large events but now take six volunteers out every Saturday from Big Pine Key in their K2 boat. Winn-Dixie provides a free lunch.

To learn more, people can go to conchrepublicmarinearmy.org or their Facebook page.

Gary Kramer, Lower Keys