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Governments Plan for Development of Land Vulnerable to Rising Sea Level: St. Johns County, Florida

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

The Atlantic Ocean and St. Johns River define the eastern and western boundaries of the county. The Intracoastal Waterway and the Matanzas River both run parallel to the Atlantic coastline approximately 3 to 4 miles inland and are also included in the study area. These water bodies represent approximately 150 linear miles of tidally influenced coastline within the county.

Atlantic Coastline. The majority of the area of land along the Atlantic Ocean is high-end residential and recreational (golf courses, state parks, etc.) and hence shore protection is almost certain. According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection: "The Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve encompasses over 60,000 acres of salt marsh and mangrove tidal wetlands, oyster bars, estuarine lagoons, upland habitat and offshore seas. It contains the northern most extent of mangrove habitat on the east coast of the United States." The majority of the preserve is marked as protection almost certain because of its ecological importance. The open land areas within the preserve are marked as protection likely. Some of the open areas within the preserve that are contiguous to tidally influenced water bodies are marked as no protection.

Most of the areas along the cities of St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach are marked as protection almost certain. The open land areas in these cities contiguous to tidal influenced hydrology are marked as protection likely because even if they are not developed, they may be protected as part of efforts to protect areas farther inland.

Intracoastal Waterway and Matanzas River. The areas of land around the Intracoastal Waterway consist mainly of agricultural lands. The areas of agricultural lands, either cropland or pasture lands, are likely to be protected given the high value of these lands even in their current use. The forested areas of agricultural, however, are have lower value and are less likely to be protected.

Eastern Bank of St. Johns River. The land along the St. Johns River is largely designated as a mix of agricultural and residential and is identified as protection almost certain. The forested areas are marked as protection likely. Because these particular forested areas are so far inland, they are protected by default because the surrounding residential areas are being protected. Areas of high-end residential uses are marked as protection almost certain.

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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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