On May 12, 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law Senate Bill 1954. This comprehensive legislation ensures a coordinated approach to Florida’s coastal and inland resiliency. The new program enhances our efforts to protect our inland waterways, coastlines and shores, which serve as invaluable natural defenses against sea level rise. The legislation will yield the largest investment in Florida’s history to prepare communities for the impacts of climate change – including sea level rise, intensified storms and flooding.
The National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) System is a network of 29 coastal sites designated to protect and study estuarine systems, where rivers meet the sea. NERRs offer local, science-based training and education programs as well as unique recreational opportunities. In Florida, the NERRs are managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Coastal Management. This document showcases just some of the important resiliency work completed by the Florida NERRs.
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Through the Florida Resilient Coastlines Program, DEP continues its efforts to help ensure collaboration among Florida’s coastal communities, and to offer technical assistance and funding to coastal communities dealing with increasingly complex flooding, erosion and habitat shifts.
Local communities can assess vulnerabilities to projected increases in coastal flooding and erosion and can develop strategies to make affected areas more resilient. Protecting and strengthening natural infrastructure also can help. Coral reefs, mangroves, oyster reefs and marshes are our first lines of defense. DEP's Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection is committed to helping prepare Florida’s communities and habitats for changes resulting from sea level rise by:
Providing funding and technical assistance to prepare Florida’s coastal communities.
Continuing to promote and ensure a coordinated approach to sea level rise planning among state, regional and local agencies.
Whitney Gray serves as the Florida Resilient Coastlines Program administrator in the Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection. Her bachelor’s and master’s degrees are from the University of Florida, where she studied zoology and systems ecology. She first worked on climate change vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning with the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council. From 2012 to 2015, Whitney served as sea level rise coordinator for both the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Florida Sea Grant, specializing in the effects of sea level rise on coastal ecosystems. She coordinated an internal climate change seminar series ("Florida Adapts") and served as a subject-matter expert on Species Action Plans during the Imperiled Species Management Planning process. Originally from Florida’s Gulf Coast, Whitney has seen firsthand how sea level rise has changed the state - from critical erosion to “ghost forests.” Her task now is to bring sea level rise resilience planning to the forefront of DEP activity for the long-term benefit of the people and ecosystems of Florida.
The Florida Adaptation Planning Guidebook is a resource for communities interested in vulnerability assessments and adaptation planning. The culmination of more than five years of research and in partnership with many state agencies, the guidebook outlines steps and best practices for local governments. Download the Florida Adaptation Planning Guidebook. Development of the FAPG was funded by the Florida Coastal Management Program and NOAA.
For more information about projects, funding opportunities, technical assistance and speaker availability, contact:
Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection 2600 Blair Stone Road, MS 235 Tallahassee, FL 32399 850-245-2094 Resilience@FloridaDEP.gov
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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.