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Life in the Coastal Zone

Pensacola Beach

Life in the Coastal Zone has its own set of unique challenges.  Defined as the interface between land and water, this geographical area includes tidal shorelines, river deltas, marshes, beaches, dunes, and reefs.  Florida’s “coastal zone” encompasses the entire state, with special consideration for counties immediately adjacent to the Gulf and Atlantic.  Highly dynamic ecosystems, these areas are prone to hurricanes, heavy rains, flooding, drought, erosion, and development pressure.  The needs of a growing population of local residents and seasonal visitors must be balanced with prevention of stormwater runoff pollution and concern for estuarine and Gulf aquatic species.

Escambia County boasts within its borders many historic landmarks, a large portion of Gulf Islands National Seashore, the largest vessel ever sunk as an artificial reef (the USS Oriskany), and the largest green roof in Florida. We are home to many iconic Florida species such as sea turtlesGulf sturgeonred-cockaded woodpeckers, and occasional visiting manatees, all threatened or endangered by human activity.  Our beaches are world-renowned, our contribution to naval aviation critical to national security, and our farms and fisheries supplying the country with fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood.

Escambia County green roof

Our natural and human histories are what make Escambia County such a special place to live and to visit.  The goals of the Coastal Sustainability program are to help keep our waters fishable and swimmable, our drinking water in clean, plentiful supply, and provide tools to the community to maintain a balance between the needs of people, native plants, and wildlife for generations to come.

In order to attain these goals, the program offers continuing education courses for builders, landscape architects, engineers, and green industry professionals in the areas of windstorm mitigationgreen building techniques, and Florida-friendly landscaping.  For homeowners, we teach water and money-saving practices such as compostingrainwater harvesting, and native landscaping.

Children learning about coastal habitats at summer camp

For youth, we provide hands-on, outdoor education experiences designed to teach an appreciation for the natural world and proper use of our abundant resources.

Permanent link to this article: http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/coastalsustainability/

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