Coral Reef Conservation Program Community Working Group Meetings Begin

ofr-workshop-2_cropThe Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Coral Reef Conservation Program completed the first set of Our Florida Reefs Community Working Group meetings on March 27 at the South Florida Water Management District Headquarters in West Palm Beach.

The Our Florida Reefs community planning process for Florida’s coral reefs focuses on the northern third of the Florida reef tract stretching more than 100 miles from Key Biscayne to the St. Lucie Inlet. The working group members will meet monthly for a year to review the latest science on Southeast Florida’s coral reefs and work together to make management recommendations.

“Our coral reefs provide so much for us as residents of the sunshine state and it’s a testament to the dedication of the these 52 work members, who have agreed to meet for eight hours each month over the next year as they review the latest science and suggest management options”,said Jamie Monty, the Florida Coral Program Manager.

Two meetings comprised the first time all 52 working group members have met. Today’s meeting was convened by the North working group, which consists of 26 members from Martin and Palm Beach counties. Members of the South working group, from Broward and Miami-Dade counties, met earlier this month at the NOVA Southeastern University’s Center for Excellence in Coral Reef Research campus.

Members spent the day learning more about Southeast Florida’s coral reef ecosystems and their future role in protecting reefs through the Our Florida Reefs community planning process. Meeting space and refreshments were provided by Nova Southeastern University’s Center for Excellence in Coral Reef Research.

The Our Florida Reefs North and South Community Working Groups involve local reef-users such as fishermen, divers, nonprofit organizations and private business along with federal, state, and county government representatives from Martin, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. The monthly working group meetings are open to the public and contain a public comment period at the conclusion of each meeting. Public comments can be submitted online throughout the process athttp://ourfloridareefs.org/public-comment-form/.

Learn more about the Our Florida Reefs Community Planning Process for southeast Florida’s coral reefs at www.OurFloridaReefs.org

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