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Governments Plan for Development of Land Vulnerable to Rising Sea Level: Nassau County, Florida

Excerpts from underlying study by Maurice Postal, Baker County (formerly with Northeast Florida Regional Planning Council)

Nassau County has tidal shores along the Atlantic Ocean and the St. Mary's and Nassau rivers. The St. Mary's River defines the northern and western borders of the county, but it is tidally influenced upstream to the Highway 17 bridge. Therefore, the remainder of the river west of the bridge was excluded from the study. The southern border of Nassau County is partially defined by the Nassau River. The Intracoastal Waterway runs parallel to the Atlantic coast, approximately 3 miles inland from the Nassau River to the St. Mary's River. These waterways combine to create approximately 117 linear miles of tidally influenced coastline in Nassau County.

Atlantic Coast (from the St. Mary's River to the Nassau River) . The land between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean is Amelia Island. At the north end of the island is Ft. Clinch State Park. It has a future land use designation of recreation and is given the scenario of protection almost certain because of its historic significance and its extensive use by visitors. There is a great deal of forested uplands in the park, which future planners may decide to relinquish for wetlands migration, but they are currently designated protection almost certain. Because of the historical significance of the Fernandina Beach area as well and the fact that the remainder of the Amelia Island is a resort area, the local planners decided that the island should be assigned the scenario of protection almost certain, eliminating the necessity of designating areas bordered by protected areas as protection unlikely. Local planners have, however, designated areas on the island that directly border the wetlands and may be relinquished for wetlands migration as protection unlikely.

South of the Ft. Clinch State Park are the cities of Fernandina Beach and the area of American Beach. The majority of the land use for these two cities is designated as residential with some recreation, commercial, and industrial areas. The commercial areas extend primarily along the A1A corridor. The commercial, industrial, and residential areas are assigned the scenario of protection almost certain. The recreational areas, which primarily consist of neighborhood parks and public beaches, have been assigned the scenario of protection likely. South of American Beach and extending to the south end of the island is the Amelia Island Plantation Resort. This area consists of high-end home sites as well as residential, commercial, conservation, and recreational (golf courses) future land use. The residential and commercial areas are almost certain to be protected and the conservation areas are designated protection unlikely because they may be allowed for wetlands migration.

Intracoastal Waterway . The Intracoastal Waterway runs from the northern border of Nassau County (St. Mary's River) to its southern border (Nassau River). The majority of the lands along the west coast of the Intracoastal Waterway are residential with some minor areas of commercial. These areas are almost certain to be protected because the residential sites are mostly high-end. There are some islands in the Intracoastal Waterway that have open space and some forested uplands and are designated as conservation. These areas are deemed as protection unlikely because they will most likely be left for wetlands migration.

St. Mary's River. The entrance to the St. Mary's River is at the Atlantic Ocean. The overwhelming majority of the lands along the St. Mary's River are designated as conservation and agricultural with some areas of residential. The areas of residential are deemed as protection almost certain. The areas of conservation and agricultural are deemed as no protection because they will most likely be relinquished for wetlands migration.

Nassau River. The Nassau River runs west from the Atlantic Ocean as a portion of Nassau County's southern border. The areas contiguous to this river are split between residential, conservation, and agricultural. The more highly developed residential areas are almost certain to be protected, although there are also less developed areas along the river where shore protection s likely but not certain. The conservation areas are deemed as no protection. The agricultural areas are unlikely to be protected and have no existing shore protection structures.

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Governments Plan for Development of Most Land Vulnerable to Rising Sea (PDF, 7 pp., 1.3 MB) was originally published in Environmental Research Letters , Issue 3, Volume 4 (2009).

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