Fifth Steering Committee Meeting

On March 18th, 2013, the project’s Matanzas Basin Steering Committee met for the fifth 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.

Ecosystem Services and Sea Level Rise

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.

Fourth Steering Committee Meeting

On December 7th, 2012, the Matanzas Basin Steering Committee met for the fourth 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

University of Florida Homepage

Kathryn Frank for spotlight on sea level rise and urban planning . photographed on Mantanza Inlet near Crescent Beach

Kathryn Frank for spotlight on sea level rise and urban planning . photographed on Mantanzas Inlet near Crescent Beach

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.

Sea Level Rise Simulation Videos

Planning for sea level rise involves communicating possible future changes in an understandable way. One of the most compelling techniques is video simulation. For this project, and as part of a master’s degree final project, UF landscape architecture student Brad Weitekamp created sea level rise simulation videos for the Matanzas Basin using bird’s eye aerial photographs, geographic results of “open water” habitat from the Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM), image editing software, and time-lapse movie making software. The resulting simulation of incremental zero- to three-feet rise in sea level at Marineland and Pellicer Creek are shown below. The sea level rise simulations are a simplification for visualization and communication purposes, and they do not reflect other changes that may occur such as habitat responses, coastal dynamics from storms, or structural protection measures. The simulation videos were presented at the project’s community workshops held in early December.

Importance of the Project

In the video below, several project Steering Committee members explain (1) why the Matanzas Basin is special and (2) the importance of planning for sea level rise in the area.

Members appreciate the Matanzas Basin’s intact ecology and ecosystem services. Ed Montgomery, Director of Rural Properties at Rayonier timber company, sees the area’s value holistically, believing that “the Matanzas estuary creates harmony with the whole natural system we live in. It’s a living system that people understand”. The people and built environment are also valued assets to the community. The wealth of culture is worth preserving according to Jackie Kramer, with Friends of the GTM Reserve.

Steering Committee members state that the project is important because it considers the impacts of sea level rise not only on the natural environment, but also the built environment. Doug Davis from Fletcher Management Company notes the project is important because it tries to answer the question: “How can we adequately prepare [for sea level rise] so businesses and residents can continue to enjoying the special resources?”

Click on the video below to watch the entire Steering Committee interview.

We also want to recognize
Videographer: David C Montgomery,
Music: Tina E Andrus, Country Morning Espania,

Workshop Presentations

Thank you to everyone who came to the Matanzas sea level rise planning workshops last week. A total of 100 people participated. We appreciate your time and effort, especially since the workshops were highly interactive. The workshop agenda was:

The project team will summarize participants’ adaptation planning preferences and post the summary to this website. We will bring these results together with those of other stakeholder group workshops in the spring, and the information will inform the next year of planning to develop future land use scenarios and an adaptation strategies toolbox for the region. We look forward to seeing everyone again as the project progresses.

Visioning Activity

Strategies Game

Upcoming Community Workshops

The first series of community workshops for residents of Palm Coast, the coastal communities in the Matanzas area, and St. Augustine will be held on December 5th and 6th, respectively. 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. Based on the information presented, workshop facilitators will ask participants for their preferences of what places to protect and what adaptation strategies to use. Please visit Events for specific information and to RSVP for the workshop that is 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 current planning for community and environmental adaptation!

Event flyers:


Class Project

In addition to the work of the project team, Dr. Kathryn Frank’s Advanced Environmental Planning class of six PhD and three masters students will have a semester long assignment to translate the completed technical analyses for the upcoming public workshops this Fall. Showing their commitment to the project, the class took a field trip to the Matanzas Basin on Labor Day. A highlight of the trip was a kayak tour of the Matanzas Estuary with Ripple Effect Ecotours. The class is excited to learn more about the communities and ecology of the Matanzas Basin, and to assist the region in planning for coastal change.

Third Steering Committee Meeting


The project’s Matanzas Basin Steering Committee held their third meeting on August 13 near St. Augustine. The UF project team presented modeling results (maps) of potential sea level rise impacts on habitats and storm surge in the Matanzas Basin, and how these results may be used to design habitat migration corridors in the second year of the project (2013). The modeling results gave Steering Committee members a better understanding of the science of sea level rise and what it means for the basin and neighboring cities and communities. The results will also be presented at the upcoming public workshops in the Fall. The Steering Committee provided feedback to the project team about designing and scheduling these workshops. Individual members also video taped short messages about what makes the Matanzas Basis special and why it is important to plan for future sea level rise and other coastal changes. These videos will be shown at the public workshops. The project team greatly appreciates the guidance provided by the Steering Committee and their generous time commitment.