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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Preparing Florida for Climate Change

The Florida Ocean and Coastal Coalition has released the final version of its report outlining a policy strategy for the protection of Florida in light of future sea-level rise. Examples of specific adaptation strategies to cope with a range of climate impacts are provided below:

Preparing For Sea-Level Rise

• The state should undertake a comprehensive reevaluation of the Coastal Construction Control Line regulatory program to ensure that it is accomplishing the intended goals of protecting life, property, and the beach/dune system.

• The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and other relevant agencies should develop state wetlands conservation and restoration plans that promote designation of wetland migration as sea levels rise, thereby protecting the valuable benefits they provide.

• Federal, state, and local governments should replace economic incentives for private development in high risk coastal areas with incentives to relocate and build in other areas and invest in coastal conservation.

Dealing with Extreme Weather Events

• The Florida Department of Environmental Protection should upgrade stormwater regulations, taking the likelihood of heavier rainfall events into consideration. Policies should focus on Low Impact Development methods, both for new developments and retrofits in existing developed areas.

• The Florida Department of Environmental Protection should evaluate/revise the Florida Water Plan (and regional water management plans) to explicitly address climate change.

• The States of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama should actively engage in a collaborative eff ort to develop and implement a long-term regional water management plan that incorporates climate change and takes a more coordinated approach to water management.

Reducing The Impacts Of Higher Ocean Temperatures

• The Florida Department of Environmental Protection should evaluate and monitor the effectiveness of the state’s collective coastal and aquatic managed areas and coastal zone management programs in supporting biological diversity among fish and wildlife species and should develop strategies to strengthen these programs.

• The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission should promote the rebuilding of depleted coastal and ocean fish populations since depleted populations will have a harder time dealing with the additional stresses posed by climate change and warming waters.

• Congress should enact climate adaptation legislation that would provide funding as well as require federal and state agencies to protect and strengthen the health of coastal and ocean ecosystems.

Addressing Acidification

• Federal and state agencies should make monitoring of ocean pH and calcifi cation rates a part of the coral monitoring plans in the Tortugas Ecological Reserve, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Biscayne National Park, and Oculina Bank Habitat Area of Particular Concern.

• Relevant federal and state agencies should invest in studies to better understand the ecological impacts of ocean acidification.

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