The OUR FLORIDA REEFS community planning process brings together the community of local residents, reef users, business owners, visitors, and the broader public in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Martin counties to discuss the future of coral reefs in this region. This process is hosted by the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI), a collaborative, local effort started in 2004 to understand and protect our coral reefs for the benefit of all. SEFCRI is coordinated by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (FDEP) Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP).
Although the coral reefs of Florida are one connected system – starting offshore of the St. Lucie Inlet in Martin County and stretching over 350 miles down through the Florida Keys to the Dry Tortugas in Monroe County – they have not been managed that way. The OUR FLORIDA REEFS planning process is focusing on the offshore reefs from the northern border of Biscayne National Park in Miami-Dade County to the St. Lucie Inlet in Martin County. Currently, there is no comprehensive management plan for this northern one-third of Florida’s reef system, extending 105 miles across the four-county region. These coral reefs are unique, extremely valuable, and highly threatened.
OUR FLORIDA REEFS is designed to increase public involvement in the future management of southeast Florida’s coral reefs by seeking input from community members on the development of recommendations that can become part of a comprehensive management strategy to ensure healthy coral reefs in the future.
Community Planning Process Steps
The OUR FLORIDA REEFS process began with a series of meetings in June 2013 to introduce the process and southeast Florida coral reef information to the local community. Next, stakeholder representatives were selected to form Community Working Groups, which met monthly from March 2014 through spring 2016. Community Working Group members represented a wide range of different interests, each of whom have a stake in the well-being of our coral reef ecosystem.
Using the best available science, these Community Working Groups developed recommended management actions to balance use and protection of southeast Florida’s coral reefs. Working Group members shared their recommendations with the local community at a series of community meetings held in January and February 2016. Finally, appropriate agencies will work to approve and implement the community-based recommendations, which will guide development of improved management strategies for southeast Florida’s coral reefs. The earliest implemented community-recommended management actions would likely take effect in 2017. To gain a more detailed understanding of the process steps, please check out the Our Florida Reefs Process Graphic.