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  • sgef205 slide 8

    In addition to providing value for wildlife, mangroves, beaches and dunes also help protect homes and inland habitats from storm damage.

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    Estuaries, where fresh water, often from rivers, enters semi-enclosed bodies of salt water, are some of our most productive ecosystems. Oysters, clams, shrimp, and many other species of marine vertebrates and invertebrates thrive in estuarine waters, as do the myriad bird species that prey upon them.

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    Coastal forests, commonly containing oaks, pines, and/or palms, provide habitat for upland species like this scrub jay and other such as the red cockaded woodpecker, white tailed deer, and pine snake.

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    Beaches and dunes are home to threatened species such as the marsh rabbit, beach mice, snowy plovers, and gopher tortoises, and provide nesting sites for shorebirds and sea turtles.

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    Many commercially and recreationally valuable species of fish like this redfish or spotted seatrout, tarpon and snook depend on sea grass, mangroves, or salt marsh for part or all of their life cycles.

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    Seagrass, mangroves, salt marshes, beaches, dunes, coastal forests and estuaries are important coastal ecosystems. Each provides breeding and nursery grounds, food, and cover for a wide variety of animals.

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    Sea-level rise may have significant effects on Florida’s coastal ecosystems. These ecosystems are the foundation upon which much of Florida’s natural beauty and economy are based. Understanding what changes may happen in the future can help us plan for those changes and, to the extent possible, lessen the impacts of those changes.

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    Sea-level rise is already having an effect in Florida. Subtle, and not so subtle, changes are being noticed especially by people who live, work and play at the coasts.

  • Do not walk on dunes

    Conserve beach plants and animals. You'll find lots of colorful and attractive plants growing along our coast. Don't pick them. They are essential for wildlife habitat and for holding beaches together.

  • Estuary boating

    When boating, avoid shallow water where the boat's propeller can disturb habitat of bottom dwellers, observe speed limits in no wake zones, repair all fuel and oil leaks promptly.

  • Dirty water

    Floridians put about 7 million gallons of oil into the environment each year by pouring it down storm drains, tossing it in the garbage, or simply dumping it into the ground. Collect used oil and antifreeze and take them to a collection center, garage or recycling center. Use only non-phosphate detergents to wash your car, and wash your car in the grass so soap is not washed into the storm system.

  • Sprinkler

    If you use automatic sprinklers, install a soil moisture sensor and water your lawn only as often as needed. Adjust sprinklers to reduce runoff from the yard. Don't allow sprinklers to put water on driveways or sidewalks.

  • Clean up the coast

    Get involved and clean the coast during the International Coastal Cleanup. Each year on the third Saturday in September, more than 10,000 Floridians volunteer for a one-day cleanup of the Sunshine State's coastline.

  • Practice Estuary-Safe Yard Care

    Choose the right plants for your location--they will use less fertilizer and water. If you need fertilizer, use it sparingly, and use the slow-release type. Contact your extension agent for safe alternatives to pesticides.

  • Think Before Pouring

    Think before you pour household cleaners, paint or prescription medicine down the drain. It all ends up in the water.

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Policy Tools

No one-size-fits-all prescription for adapting to sea-level rise is possible for Florida’s coastal communities. For example, while a community may have a responsibility to inform people about coastal hazards such as storm surge and sea-level rise, the community will also want to encourage economic development and investment that makes the community vibrant and contributes to the tax base. Each community needs to assess for itself its vulnerabilities and how to find the balance between the many competing interests that present themselves in adaptation to sea-level rise and coastal planning generally.The following materials offer planners and attorneys materials to help them analyze the different planning and policy options for addressing sea-level rise and other coastal hazards.

Drowning in Place: Local Government Costs and Liabilities for Flooding Due to Sea-Level Rise

This article, published in the November 2013 issue of the Florida Bar Journal, discusses the potential legal liabilities and context for local government maintenance and upgrading of drainage system in response to decreasing efficacy of such systems due to sea-level rise. The article concludes that in Florida it is likely that whether a local government will be liable for failure of a drainage system to keep properties drained in the face of sea-level rise will hinge on the legal determination of whether such flooding is ascribed to a failure to maintain or a failure to upgrade the drainage system. While the analysis in the article focuses specifically on Florida law, it appears that the reasoning and much of the law may be similar in other states.

 What Will Adaptation Cost?

Adaptation to sea-level rise is a complex–and costly–issue for local governments. Local governments will not have sufficient funds to undertake activities that keep all property owners satisfied if even the more modest increases in sea-level rise occur. Thus, those engaged in adaptation have increasingly sought to understand what types of adaptations give the most “bang for the buck” when adapting to sea-level rise. A cost-benefit analysis of adaptation options presents great challenges as there are questions of scope of the costs and benefits, timing, amount of projected sea-level rise, multiple adaptation options, possible opportunity costs, and other variables. A report commissioned by the Coastal Services Center of NOAA developed a report that provides a framework for conducting a cost-benefit analysis that will help local decision makers focus their inquiries into the costs–and benefits–of different adaptation options.

Sea-Level Rise Adaptation and the Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act

The Bert Harris Act in Florida Statutes creates a “takings” cause of action in addition to constitutional law for certain regulatory burdens on property. This 23-page report looks at both procedural as well as substantive issues in the act while incorporating discussion of recent cases and the 2011 legislative changes to the act. Much of the report focuses on interpretation of terms in the act and potential legal arguments that local governments might use if defending ordinances aimed at sea-level rise adaptation.

“Rolling Easements,” James G. Titus, Climate Ready Estuaries Program, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (June 2011)

This detailed document offers a thorough and detailed introduction to the concept of a rolling easements. This primer defines what a rolling easement is, gives examples of how rolling easements may function, looks at ways of creating them, and many other specifics for design and use of rolling easements. This document itself recognizes its own limitation in that it is a national-level document. Thus, while it sometimes presents examples from states, the document is not designed to evaluate state property law. As a beginning point in evaluating rolling easements in Florida, this document may be combined with the resource “Use of Future Interests in Land as a Sea-Level Rise Adaptation Tool.”

Adaptation Tool Kit: Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Land Use

This document covers four broad areas of tools that local governments can use to adapt to sea-level rise: 1)Planning tools, 2) Regulatory tools, 3) Spending tools, and 4) Tax and Market-based tools. While it is not specific to Florida, the broad overview it provides is worthwhile.

Sea-Level Rise Ready: Model Comprehensive Plan Goals, Objectives, and Policies to Address Sea-Level Rise Impacts in Florida

For decades Florida has been known for its careful land use planning system. Even after numerous changes in 2011, such as decreasing the role of state review of local comprehensive plans, Florida local governments continue to have powerful tools for realizing a community’s vision of itself. Land use planning through a local government’s comprehensive plan remains one of the best ways for a local government to begin to address coastal hazards such as sea-level rise. The University of Florida Levin College of Law’s Conservation Clinic, working with the Charlotte Harbor Estuary Program and with support from Florida Sea Grant, developed model comprehensive plan goals, objectives, and policies which can help local governments envision ways in which their comprehensive plan can help them adopt to sea-level rise. The model goals, objectives, and policies are available in a PowerPoint® presentation here.

Elevation as an Adaptation Strategy

This very short document divides elevation strategy into elevation of land area and elevation of structures and highlights a few of the issues with each, including likely legal stumbling blocks.

Reasonable Investment-Backed Expectations: Should Notice of Rising Seas Lead to Falling Expectations for Coastal Property Purchaser?

This article, published in Volume 26 of the Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law, delves into the concept of “reasonable, investment-backed expectations in federal takings law. This leads into analysis of the importance of “notice” in evaluation of reasonable, investment-backed expectations. The importance of notice—and issues of fairness and personal responsibility—coalesce to support the idea that local governments could institute notice or disclosure ordinances for coastal hazards. The article cites to examples of disclosure or notice in other contexts and makes recommendations for drafting of a local notice ordinance.

Florida’s Coastal Hazards Disclosure Law: Property Owner Perceptions of the Physical and Regulatory Environment

This document contains research, findings, and recommendations related to Florida’s current coastal disclosure statute. This statute requires that potential purchasers of coastal property that is seaward of the Coastal Construction Line receive certain information about the dynamics of coastal property and regulations such as the Coastal Construction Control Line that impact uses of property. Research indicated that the current law is not accomplishing its stated goal, so the document addresses shortcomings in the statute by offering proposed statutory revisions. These revisions reflect the legal analysis in the above document “Reasonable Investment-Backed Expectations: Should Notice of Rising Seas Lead to Falling Expectation for Coastal Property Purchasers?”

Use of Future Interests in Land as a Sea-Level Rise Adaptation Strategy in Florida

This three-page document examines the prospects of using future interests in land for adaptation purposes in Florida. James Titus of the U.S. EPA has advocated for rolling easements for years, and his 2011 primer on the topic extensively treats the possibility of using future interests in land to implement the rolling easement concept. Specifics in Florida law present serious difficulties that likely mean future interests present less viable, flexible options than conservation/environmental easements in Florida.

 Local Government Legal Workshop Presentations and Agendas

This links to a page with agendas and presentations from the local government adaptation workshops Florida Sea Grant has organized in conjunction with local partners.

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