The impacts of sea level rise will become greater over time, affecting today’s youth the most. The Matanzas project Steering Committee members recognized the importance of engaging youth in planning for sea level rise, and the project team welcomed the opportunity.
GTM Research Reserve’s coastal training specialist Tina Gordon coordinated with educators in the Matanzas area to offer sea level rise workshops to about 120 high school students and 30 community college students. The participants were six marine science classes at Matanzas High School in Palm Coast, and two environmental science classes at St. Johns River State College’s campus in St. Augustine.
The workshop format was similar to that involving adult residents and professionals. As with the adult workshops, the youth provided ideas for sea level rise planning through a visioning exercise, and they worked in small groups during the role-play game to develop sea level rise adaptation plans. Despite participating in the same workshop activities, youth participants often reacted differently than adults. For example, the high school students approached sea level rise planning from personal rather than professional perspectives. The students showed a strong attachment to place, and they often favored strategies to fortify the area to make it livable despite sea level rise. Alternatively, participants in the adult workshops more frequently considered planned relocation as a viable adaptation strategy.
The project team thanks Mr. Chris Farrell at St. Johns River State College and Mr. Chris Feist at Matanzas High School for arranging the workshops for their students.
A workshop for middle school level kids will be held on June 26, 2013 as part of a summer camp at St. Johns Technical High School in St. Augustine.
Tina Gordon, Coastal Training Specialist at the GTM Research Reserve, holds a giant thank you card presented to the project from Mr. Feist’s marine science students at Matanzas High School.
The first set of workshops for professional groups in the Matanzas area, including St. Augustine and Palm Coast, will be held in May and June at the GTM Research Reserve office in Marineland. The first workshop on May 8th, 9:00am-12:00pm, is designed for representatives of natural resource and ecotour businesses. The second workshop on May 9th, 9:00am-12:00pm, is intended for local government officials and planners, and members of state and federal agencies with local interests. The third workshop on June 4th, 12:00-3:00pm, is geared towards urban developers, real estate professionals, and other business and economic development representatives. At each workshop, researchers from the University of Florida will present the science of sea level rise and its potential impacts on the Matanzas area. Workshop facilitators will ask participants for their preferences of what places to protect and what adaptation strategies to use. If you are a professional, please visit Events for specific information and to RSVP for the workshop that is the best fit and most convenient for you. Your participation is important for gaining awareness of important issues of coastal change and how they affect you, and for guiding integrated planning for community and environmental adaptation.
As the Matanzas Basin project proceeds with its focus on natural systems and sea level rise, the Regional Community Institute of Northeast Florida, Inc. (RCI) has been coordinating efforts with UF and the GTM NERR and focusing on sea level rise and potential impacts to the built environment in the seven county Northeast Florida region. RCI is a non-profit which takes advantage of the expertise of regional leaders who volunteer to make policy recommendations to the Northeast Florida Regional Council. RCI’s Emergency Preparedness Committee on Sea Level Rise is currently working with local planners on community resiliency assessments. It anticipates making policy recommendations to the Northeast Florida Regional Council in September/October 2013. Background, documents and contact information are available on the Committee webpage.
Courtesy post by:
Regional Community Institute of Northeast Florida
and member of the Matanzas project’s Steering Committee
On March 18th, 2013, the project’s Matanzas Basin Steering Committee met for the fourth time at the IFAS Wind Mitigation Building in St. Augustine, Florida. First, the committee provided input on updated technical presentation materials, including a comprehensive digital elevation model map and new geographic analyses of critical facilities and sites affected by sea level rise. Next, committee member, Jackie Kramer, presented her experience working on climate change issues in Alaska. Lessons from other adaptation groups are helpful for the Matanzas sea level rise project, because adaptation planning involves complex technical, political, social, and economic considerations. Last, committee members broke up into groups based on professional affiliations to discuss potential dates for the upcoming stakeholder workshops. These workshops will involve natural resources and ecotour businesses, government officials and planners, and developers, realtors, and other economic interests. The dates of these workshops have been scheduled for May and June. More information and RSVP links are provided on the Events page.
Below is one of the comprehensive digital elevation model maps presented to the committee. Low lying areas shown in red are assumed to be more likely to experience current and near-term effects of sea level rise. The elevation patterns across the entire study area, along with sea level rise projections, can suggest basic geographic patterns of change that will occur in decades or a century from now.
Ecosystem services are the various benefits (goods and services) that humans receive from natural systems such as estuaries, wetlands, and forests. These services are often undervalued and taken for granted. The international Millennium Ecosystem Assessment identified four categories of ecosystem services: provisioning services such as food and water; regulating services such as flood and disease control; cultural services such as spiritual and recreational benefits; and supporting services such as nutrient cycling that maintain the conditions for life on Earth.
Sea level rise is threatening ecosystem services such as flood mitigation, storm surge protection, water quality treatment, and fisheries. For example, coastal marshes and estuaries provide habitat and nurseries for many species, including those important for the ecological food chain and human consumption through fishing and shellfish harvesting. As sea level rises, if the marshes retreat without suitable areas for new marshes, fisheries and wildlife will diminish. This will impact the local economy and quality of life. The potential negative impacts of sea level rise on ecosystem services, and consequently coastal communities, makes it critical to begin planning for future changes now.
The GTM Research Reserve recognizes the importance of ecosystem services to the local people and economies, and the importance of estimating the dollar value of the services. Reserve researchers have determined that the estuaries, marshes, swamps, forests, and marine areas of the Reserve currently provide $246 million per year of ecosystem services. One avenue of new research could be to identify how this value will be affected by sea level rise under different planning scenarios.
The video below shows in more detail the ecosystem services of the GTM Research Reserve.
On December 7th, 2012, the Matanzas Basin Steering Committee met for the third time at the GTM Research Reserve Educational Center in Ponte Vedra Beach. The committee reviewed the results from the community workshops held on the previous two days in Marineland and St. Augustine. The committee also provided input on the format for the next set of stakeholder workshops planned for late Spring 2013. These workshops will involve government officials and planners, inland developers, and natural resource-based economic interests.
GTM Research Reserve Environmental Education Center
The University of Florida is currently profiling this project, Planning for Sea Level Rise in the Matanzas Basin, on its homepage. The true star of the accompanying video is the natural beauty of the Matanzas estuary. All of the amazing wildlife and scenic footage was taken during a two-hour tour aboard Ripple Effect’s veggie-powered boat with Capt. Chris Kelley at the helm. We wish to thank Chris Kelley, Eric Ziecheck, and everyone at Ripple Effect Ecotours for contributing so much to the video.