Because of climate change, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) expects sea levels around the state to rise by between 2 feet and 3 feet by 2060. Experts say that will likely damage our shorelines and increase risk from floods and storm surge. To help Sarasota County prepare, the FDEP recently announced that it will fund a sea level rise vulnerability study and the creation of a resilience plan.
Most of the county's beaches are already eroding, according to the FDEP. Out of 35 miles of shoreline, 24.2 miles have been designated as "critically eroding," and an additional 1.1 miles of inlets are also threatened. (Another .7 miles of shoreline is designated as eroding, but not critically.) The state defines "critically eroding" shoreline as places where "upland development, recreational interests, wildlife habitat, or important cultural resources are threatened or lost."
The state's new $125,000 grant will pay for the county to research how sea level rise will affect the local shoreline and to develop a plan to adapt to the changes. According to a department spokesperson, the county can either use the money to conduct the study itself or hire external staff. The county has until next July to use the funds.