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Rising sea level to be discussed on the First Coast

7:46 PM, Dec 3, 2012   |    comments
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ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- For fisherman Gary Beasley in St. Augustine, he's more concerned about the fish biting than the topic of a rising sea level.

"It's like okay, it's happening. I'm not going to be here, so it's easy to blow off," Beasely said. "But long term, it's a major concern.

It's a major concern for Mike Shirley, Director of the Guana Tolomato Matanzas Research Reserve.

Research from the University of Florida shows the sea level in the Matanzas Basin (just south of Moultrie Creek in St. Augustine to the Palm Coast area) could rise at least 6 inches by the year 2100.

Shirley said that's "not a whole lot, but St. Augustine streets already flood at high tide and with a nor'easter."

The worst case scenario would be a rise of three feet.

"But that's a very unlikely scenario at this point," Shirley added.

One chief concern is the expected rising sea level's impact on marshes, which are tied to the area's economy.

"Oyster reefs and marshes are important for cleaning the water and water quality. And then fisheries are a concern as well." Shirley noted.

State, and local authorities -- with help of federal dollars -- are holding workshops this week, inviting the public to talk about the issue in St. Augustine and in Marineland.

As for Beasely, he's glad people are starting the discussion in Northeast Florida, even though he says a rising sea level will not impact him.

"Not for me as a fisherman," Beasely said, "but for my grandchildren as fishermen."

For more information about the workshops, click here.

First Coast News

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