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Kenny Chesney group helps install artificial reef in Florida

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DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Country music superstar Kenny Chesney’s No Shoes Reefs organization is helping to install an artificial reef off of Florida’s Atlantic coast.

The organization and other marine groups such as the nonprofit Coastal Conservation Association Florida, recently donated and installed 13 reef balls, large concrete domes with round holes, on the ocean floor off of Delray Beach in Palm Beach County.

Each of the 7-foot-by-6-foot (2.1-meter-by-1.8 meter) reef balls was dropped earlier this month in the Delray Dredge Hole, about a half-mile off the coast of Delray Beach, No Shoes Reefs said in a statement. It will make up a 32-acre (13-hectare) underwater reef park known as No Shoes Reef 4.

The reef will provide educational opportunities for students in Palm Beach County through the Sandoway Discover Center’s ongoing educational programs, the statement said.

“Love the water, give back to the water,” Chesney said in the statement. “Many people don’t realize both how fragile and resilient the ocean’s ecosystems are, and I think it’s the small projects that raise awareness on local levels that help people understand the ocean is a living thing.”

Once completed, the project will provide new habitats for unique seagrasses and a variety of fish species, as well as give divers an opportunity to explore.

“Improving and creating sustainable fisheries and protecting Florida’s marine environment is CCA Florida’s lifeblood,” said the organization’s director of habitat and environmental restoration, Frank Gidus. “We’re honored to be part of this reef project and partner with No Shoes Reef, as it’s a symbiotic relationship sharing the same goal – to improve our coastal environments and waterways for today and for generations to come.”

Others working on the project include Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management, Sandoway Discovery Center, Reef Ball Foundation, Building Conservation Trust and Global SubDive.

Delray Beach is located south of West Palm Beach.

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