A UCSC report found that Florida mangroves prevented $ 1.5 billion in flood damage during Hurricane Irma in 2017
By Michayla Savitt, Public News Service / Florida
Environmental groups are calling on federal lawmakers to allocate $ 10 billion in the upcoming infrastructure package to coastal restoration projects to prevent flooding and boost the economy.
The move would have a big impact on Florida, where tidal tides have increased 352% since 2000.
More than 100 groups have signed a letter in support of funding for coastal projects under the American Jobs Plan.
Jean Flemma, director of the Ocean Defense Initiative and co-founder of Urban Ocean, noted that Florida is an area where these projects must begin now.
“Florida is the ‘ground zero’ for sea level rise and storms that increase in intensity and severity,” said Flemma. “Implementing coastal restoration projects that provide this natural buffer against storms and rising seas will be incredibly important.”
A report from the University of California-Santa Cruz found that Florida mangroves prevented $ 1.5 billion in flood damage during Hurricane Irma in 2017.
Flemma pointed out that 18 of the 34 coastal states have identified more than $ 6 billion worth of projects that they would undertake if they had the funding.
Projects would also create jobs in a variety of industries, Flemma explained.
“Everything from engineers to coastal stabilization and marine litter removal to landscape architects and people who actually go in and do the job, planting seaweed or restoring a wetland,” Flemma sketched.
According to a 2017 analysis by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, coastal restoration projects backed by stimulus funds created about 15 jobs for every million dollars of investment.
Nicolas Lama, a member of EarthEcho International’s Youth Leadership Council, said stepping up coastal resilience efforts in Florida was vital, not just to create jobs, but also to mitigate climate change.
“The reality of the climate crisis in our state is that it is not a distant issue that Congress needs to act on now,” Lama said. “We’re going to lose so much to climate change here in Florida. And young Floridians like me are worried about the future of our state. “
There were a record-breaking 30 named storms in the 2020 hurricane season, 14 of which became hurricanes, according to NOAA.