| Subcommittee Discusses Coastal Resiliency and Red Tide|
| This week the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee heard two presentations about coastal resilience and protection, as well as red tide research and mitigation efforts.|
Coastal Resilience and Protection
Alex Reed, Director of the Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), discussed how the DEP-led efforts to protect, restore, and maintain coastal habitats has progressed over the past few years. Reed highlighted efforts by the Office to provide tangible measurement and impacts of sea level rise, as well as climate-driven storm damage.
The Committee also heard a description of the Sea Level Impact Projection (SLIP) Study Tool, with a map showing which areas had completed assessments and projects across the state. Reed stated that $12.1 million in the Governor’s Recommended Budget aims to increase the number of municipalities that could complete sea level rise and vulnerability assessments.
Committee members raised concerns about the issue of bonding to provide the $1 billion in total program funding and grants over the next four years, centered on the potential of future revenue downturns. Reed explained: "We (Florida) are ground zero for climate change and sea level rise. So every little bit that we do, every living shoreline that we implement, every base floor elevation that we raise, we are moving ourselves down the road to a more resilient Florida."
Gil McRae, Director of the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), presented on red tide, how and where it forms, and what steps FWC is taking to respond to the algal blooms. McRae highlighted the cooperation between FWC, DEP, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Florida Department of Health to monitor development of red tide, while informing and protecting citizens and the environment from its negative effects.
An overview of the $6.6 million annual recurring appropriation towards red tide efforts was provided, showing that 14% went to the Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Task Force and Grants Program, 33% to applied research, and 53% to monitoring and event response. Representative Stevenson asked a question regarding the impacts of biosolids on the development of algae blooms, to which McRae responded that a larger load of nutrients due to runoff from biosolids application sites could increase chances of a red tide bloom.