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Open-File Report 2008–1157

Mapping of Florida's Coastal and Marine Resources: Setting Priorities Workshop

By Lisa Robbins, Steven Wolfe, and Ellen Raabe

OFR 2008-1157 Cover and link to report

PDF Open-File Report 2007-1257
(1,535 KB, 36 pages)


Executive Summary

The importance of mapping habitats and bioregions as a means to improve resource management has become increasingly clear. Large areas of the waters surrounding Florida are unmapped or incompletely mapped, possibly hindering proper management and good decisionmaking. Mapping of these ecosystems is among the top priorities identified by the Florida Oceans and Coastal Council in their Annual Science Research Plan. However, lack of prioritization among the coastal and marine areas and lack of coordination of agency efforts impede efficient, cost–effective mapping.

A workshop on Mapping of Florida’s Coastal and Marine Resources was sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), and Southeastern Regional Partnership for Planning and Sustainability (SERPPAS). The workshop was held at the USGS Florida Integrated Science Center (FISC) in St. Petersburg, FL, on February 7-8, 2007. The workshop was designed to provide State, Federal, university, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) the opportunity to discuss their existing data coverage and create a prioritization of areas for new mapping data in Florida. Specific goals of the workshop were multifold, including to:

  • provide information to agencies on state-of-the-art technology for collecting data;
  • inform participants of the ongoing mapping programs in waters off Florida;
  • present the mapping needs and priorities of the State and Federal agencies and entities operating in Florida;
  • work with State of Florida agencies to establish an overall priority for areas needing mapping;
  • initiate discussion of a unified classification of habitat and bioregions;
  • discuss and examine the need to standardize terminology and data collection/storage so that data, in particular habitat data, can be shared;
  • identify opportunities for partnering and leveraging mapping efforts among agencies and entities;
  • identify impediments and organizational gaps that hinder collection of data for mapping;
  • seek innovative solutions to the primary obstacles identified;
  • identify the steps needed to move mapping of Florida’s oceans and coasts forward, in preparation for a better coordinated, more cost-effective mapping program to allow State and Federal agencies to make better decisions on coastal-resource issues.

Over 90 invited participants representing more than 30 State and Federal agencies, universities, NGOs, and private industries played a large role in the success of this two-day workshop. State of Florida agency participants created a ranked priority order for mapping 13 different regions around Florida. The data needed for each of the 13 priority regions were outlined. A matrix considering State and Federal priorities was created, utilizing input from all agencies. The matrix showed overlapping interests of the entities and will allow for partnering and leveraging of resources.

The five most basic mapping needs were determined to be bathymetry, high-vertical resolution coastline for sea-level rise scenarios, shoreline change, subsurface geology, and benthic habitats at sufficient scale. There was a clear convergence on the need to coordinate mapping activities around the state. Suggestions for coordination included:

  • creating a glossary of terms: a standard for specifying agency data-mapping needs;
  • creating a geographic information officer (GIO) position or permanent organizing group to maintain communications established at this workshop and to maintain progress on the issues identified during the workshop. The person or group could develop a website, maintain a project-status matrix, develop a list of contacts, create links to legislative updates and links to funding sources;
  • developing a web portal and one-stop/clearinghouse of data.

There was general consensus on the need to adopt a single habitat classification system and a strategy to accommodate existing systems smoothly. Unresolved aspects of the systems warrant that a separate workshop would be needed to work out details.

Participants recognized that the State priority list would necessarily be updated periodically. An annual review of priorities would facilitate information exchange, mapping activities updates, and re-allocation of funding among changing priorities.

It was recognized that mapping of State waters would take billions of dollars and in light of tightening budgets there was need for processes that could be used to appropriate or leverage monies for mapping and reduce data-collection costs. Fourteen different avenues were explored. There was a clear consensus that the linking of public to private partnerships to support mapping was imperative, and ways to achieve this were discussed.

For more information concerning the report, please contact the author.


Suggested citation: Robbins, Lisa, Wolfe, Steven, and Raabe, Ellen, 2008, Mapping of Florida’s Coastal and Marine Resources: Setting Priorities Workshop: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1157, 36 pages; St. Petersburg, FL.

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