4th UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Amy Langston
Session Name Poster Session: Science, stakeholders and decision-making
Poster Number 10
Author(s) Amy Langston,  UF Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment (Presenting Author)
  David Kaplan,  UF Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment
  Thomas Ankersen, Levin College of Law, UF
  Nick Barshel, Levin College of Law, UF
  Saira Fida, Levin College of Law, UF
  Integrating science into comprehensive planning for sea level rise adaptation in rural coastal communities
  Sea level rise (SLR) is a growing threat to coastal communities in Florida and around the world. One response local communities and municipalities can take to address the ecological and economic challenges of SLR is to incorporate adaptation strategies into city planning and policies. However most of these efforts have occurred in large cities, with a strong focus on the built environment. Coastal rural municipalities often have fewer resources to develop adaptation plans, and differ from their urban counterparts in two critical ways: they contain less infrastructure and the local economy is usually more dependent on natural resources. With these important differences in mind, this project seeks to develop a SLR adaptation plan for Yankeetown, Florida, a small coastal community on the Gulf Coast in Levy County. Yankeetown is dominated by natural resources that are vulnerable to SLR including freshwater wetlands, riverine wetlands, saltmarshes, oyster reefs, offshore islands, a large estuary, and the 413-acre Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve, which collectively comprise a proposed Natural Resource Adaptation Action Area (NRAAA). This project involved several novel approaches to local planning, including the development of a Science Plan for integration into the town’s comprehensive plan. The Science Plan establishes a baseline of existing conditions within the NRAAA and proposes specific monitoring and management recommendations for long-term adaptation planning to preserve natural resources. Existing conditions were identified using publicly available GIS ecological and environmental data. The analysis was supplemented with a community outreach rapid assessment “bioblitz” conducted within the Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve. Long-term adaptation strategies provide restoration and adaptation methods for increasing ecological community resilience to environmental change in the face of accelerating SLR. Integrating science into the local government planning process is a new and unique approach for addressing SLR impacts in coastal communities in Florida and around the world.