Julianna Merotto is a student at the University of Central Florida and an Audubon Florida Conservation Leadership Initiative fellow.
Some things I will never forget: hot scorching sand, cool waters, and small fish gathering around my ankles just as they do around coral. I treasure these first memories at a Florida beach and know that SB 1954, passed last session, can help others make those same memories.
Florida beaches are vulnerable to climate change. With 800 miles of sandy beaches, 436 of which are critically eroded, SB 1954 - passed in the Florida Legislature in 2021 with a follow-up in the 2022 session - could not have come at a better time. Cities and counties need vulnerability assessments that tackle flooding and sea level rise.
Our warming climate could spawn stronger and more frequent hurricanes. Strong storms drive the erosion that plagues our beaches. And, the loss of our beaches will plague the tourism industry Floridians depend on with losses in visitors, revenue, and much more. In Cocoa Beach alone, many small businesses rely on the coastline to support their families and way of life. These families, their livelihoods, and the fond memories many Floridians have surrounding our beautiful beaches are why I urge the City Commission of Cocoa Beach to conduct a vulnerability assessment under SB 1954.