Florida Resilient Coastlines Program
The Florida Resilient Coastlines Program helps coastal communities plan for and adapt to climate change and sea level rise. The program developed a guidebook to support local community adaptation planning and now provides implementation grants and technical assistance to coastal communities in the state.
The Florida Resilient Coastlines Program (FRCP) is a program of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). The FRCP allows the department to offer technical and financial assistance to coastal communities combating climate change. In 2015, the Florida Peril of Flood Act was passed, which identified sea level rise as one of the causes of flood risk that must be addressed in community comprehensive plans. The FRCP helps communities complete the requirements mandated by the Peril of Flood Act. In order to facilitate community resilience planning, the FRCP researched best coastal resilience practices and developed the Florida Adaptation Planning Guidebook. During the development of the guidebook, the FRCP solicited input from state experts and ground-truthed the processes with adaptation planning projects in the City of Clearwater, the City of St. Augustine, and Escambia County. The guidebook leads communities through the adaptation planning process and provides recommendations for accommodation, avoidance, and retreat strategies (e.g., revising building codes).
After the guidebook’s publication in 2018, the FRCP began providing grants for coastal adaptation implementation. Local governments seeking implementation project funding must have already completed a plan that includes the Peril of FloodAct-required elements. To date, most communities are implementing “adaptation in place” options, including raising roads and infrastructure, improving stormwater systems, and creating living shorelines.
The FRCP’s outreach and stakeholder engagement includes conducting quarterly Coastal Resilience Forum webinars, site visits with grantees to check in on progress and discuss new project ideas, and workshops for planners, floodplain managers, municipal employees, and elected officials on resilience planning and implementation. Most discussions center on flooding impacts, including king tides, regular high tides, coastal flooding, saltwater intrusion, and upstream and downstream impacts of flooding. Each coastal community faces unique challenges and must implement different adaptation measures, and the program educates the public as a crucial step toward creating support for adaptation.
Some of the partners associated with the FRCP are local universities, the National Estuarine Research Reserves, Regional Planning Councils, municipalities, and counties. The FRCP shares resources and frameworks such as the Southeast Regional Florida Climate Change Compact, the National Climate Assessment, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sea Level Change Curve Calculator with communities as options to inform planning processes. The program was initially funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal Zone Enhancement Program from 2010–2017. Current funding is allocated by the state annually (e.g., $1.6 million in 2018–2019, $2.7 million in 2019–2020).
Outcomes and Conclusions
In addition to the Florida Adaptation Planning Guidebook, the FCRP plans to develop sub-guides for topics related to sea level rise impacts on ecosystems, natural resources, and historic structures. More funding is needed at the state and federal levels to help all Florida municipalities with adaptation planning and implementation. However, through the FRCP, written guidance, project planning and implementation assistance, and implementation funding are advancing coastal resilience. The FRCP monitors community compliance with the Peril of Flood Act and has funded about 30% of the communities that are in compliance to do their adaptation work. The framing of climate change, sea level rise, and adaptation varies for each community depending on local priorities and needs.
A barrier to some of the FRCP’s work is limits to construction projects. Construction projects can only be funded in one-year cycles, which limits the engagement time for planning between the FDEP and the entity implementing the project. In addition, uncertainties in legal foundations surrounding adaptation planning and implementation, especially around private property rights and property buyouts, can limit action. Despite these barriers, the FRCP cites the support of state funding, increased availability of federal funding through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and funding through the Deepwater Horizon oil spill mitigation fund. State legislation that has assisted the FRCP includes Senate Bills 1954 and 2514, which establish the Resilient Florida Grant Program to provide sustained sea level rise adaptation efforts by local governments, funds a high-resolution coastal mapping project, and requires the development of a statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan that ranks and allocates funds to priority resilience projects. The goal of the FRCP is to assist all 35 coastal counties and 211 coastal communities develop and implement coastal adaptation plans.
Sims, S.A., Braddock, K.N., and Gregg R.M. (2021). Florida Resilient Coastlines Program [Case study of a program of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection] Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: https://www.cakex.org/case-studies/florida-resilient-coastlines-program (Last updated October 2021)