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CCP’s Sea Level Rise Committee to hold forum

By TIFFANY REPECKI / trepecki@breezenewspapers.com - | Nov 10, 2020

The community has an opportunity to take part in an interactive virtual meeting on sea level rise.

The Captiva Community Panel’s Sea Level Rise Committee will host its first public forum on Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. via Zoom. Committee members will share information on what is being done to address the issue and its short- and long-term impact on Captiva, as well as answer questions and invite discussion.

The panel created the committee in 2019 following a study that assessed oceanfront coastal vulnerability and focused on beach erosion for both Sanibel and Captiva. It was funded by a Florida Resilient Coastlines Program grant and completed by Florida Gulf Coast University in 2019.

“The panel recognizes that the series of barrier islands are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise, storms and floods, but are also particularly well-suited for implementation of a coastal resiliency adaptation plan,” committee Chair Linda Laird reported in a letter mailed to Captiva homeowners.

“Not only can an innovative well-developed plan protect our future — along with the abundance of threatened natural wildlife habitat, including mangrove forests, endangered sea turtle nesting sites, shore bird rookeries and aquatic habitat — it can serve as a model for other communities facing similar environmental threats,” she added.

The committee has been meeting monthly with the mission of gathering information on the effects of sea level rise on the island, including defining assets, consulting experts, outlining areas of vulnerability and providing alternative approaches for resiliency and adaptation. Dr. Cheryl Hapke, of Integral Consulting, has been brought on board to assist with the committee’s efforts.

She has been engaged to perform an island-wide vulnerability assessment, focusing on characterizing coastal typology and identifying vulnerable community infrastructure utilizing Coastal ADAPT, or Adaptation Decision and Planning Tool. The committee has evaluated the various sea level rise estimates for the next 30 years, agreed upon the best planning assumption and completed the initial phases of Hapke’s project, which identifies the risks to Captiva over a 30-year planning horizon.

In addition, Hapke and the committee have submitted a grant to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s National Coastal Resilience Fund to assist with modeling and funding efforts; the award winners will be announced this month. The committee plans to continue to pursue more grants.

“A key focus of this public forum is to present the risk analysis to the community and obtain feedback about the committee’s future work,” Laird reported.

“Captiva faces existential threats from sea level rise, inundation, erosion and increased intensity of storms,” she added. “As homeowners and island dwellers, we understand that you have a vested interest in preserving this island.”

The community is encouraged to take part in the forum.

“Your participation at this meeting is key to moving our work forward,” Laird reported. “We are eager to hear your thoughts and ideas.”

“Public engagement will continue to be an active vital component of our work,” she added.

The Zoom link will be available at https://captivacommunitypanel.com. People can also email CCP Administrator Ken Gooderham at captivacommunitypanel@gmail.com for more information.