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Long-delayed veterans cemetery approved

Associated Press
Published March 14, 2006

LAKE WORTH - South Florida will soon get its first veterans cemetery, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced Monday.

The 313-acre site near Boynton Beach will serve more than 350,000 veterans within a 75-mile radius. Burials are expected to begin later this year.

The South Florida National Cemetery was originally expected to open in mid 2004 after the department purchased the land for $11.2-million two years earlier. But permits were delayed by the Army Corps of Engineers after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service expressed concerns that construction would harm wetlands and destroy vital habitat for the endangered wood stork. The permits were granted late last year after the VA agreed to protect more wetlands on the site and fund mitigation efforts elsewhere in the state.

The VA also has plans to build cemeteries in Sarasota and Jacksonville. Eventually there will be seven national military burial sites in the state.

Of the four currently operated national cemeteries in Florida, two are virtually full. Bay Pines National Cemetery in Pinellas County limits new interments to cremated remains, or, in some cases, casketed remains on the site of previously interred family members. St. Augustine National Cemetery is closed to all new interments, with exceptions in some cases for eligible family members. Barrancas National Cemetery at Pensacola and Florida National Cemetery at Bushnell still can accommodate both casketed and cremated remains.

[Last modified March 14, 2006, 08:43:58]

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