Date: June 15, 1999
Contact: Dan Evans
Phone: (352) 373-6441
Coastal barriers are the beaches, dunes, wetlands and barrier islands that protect waterfront communities, provide a critical habitat for a variety of wildlife (including sea turtles and 17 other endangered species), are responsible for three fourths of the commercial fish, and are also areas that many people enjoy for recreation. It is in the best interest of the species that inhibit these habitats as well as humans to protect these fragile ecosystems from development.
Created by congress in 1982, the Coastal Barrier Resource System (CBRS) was established to block development on vulnerable beaches and save federal tax dollars, while protecting valuable coastal resources and the industries that depend on them. Of the approximately 1.3 million acres included in the system nationwide, Florida represents 285,000 acres of coastal area. Florida beaches provide nearly 90% of sea turtle nesting on the continental United States. “Some of the beaches of the CBRS lie within the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, the most important nesting beach in the Western Hemisphere, “said David Godfrey, Executive Director of the Caribbean Conservation Corporation.
Congress has recently passed a bill that reauthorizes the CBRS and will allow fragile and protected ecosystems to be developed. Not only is this detrimental to sea turtles and the other species that depend upon coastal ecosystems, but it will cost taxpayers money! The bill makes development in these vulnerable areas eligible for federal flood insurance and other federal subsidies. Removing beaches from the CBRS would increase the burden of the federal taxpayer and make federally-backed insurance available for high-risk, environmentally damaging construction along the coast. Every developed acre of coastline costs taxpayers $82,000 in federal subsidies. The subsidies would encourage hurricane-prone development that endangers lives and property. By encouraging construction on barrier island and beaches, the rider increases the likelihood that lives and property will be damaged when the next hurricane makes landfall. The effect of these subsidies is less money in your pockets and more damage to irreplaceable coastal resources.
Call you Senator and Representative in Congress and tell them that:
1. – You oppose the present reauthorization of the Coastal Barrier Resources System.
2. – Provisions to strengthen and improve the program should be included in any reathorization.
3. – Technical corrections should be removed from the bill so they may pass or fail on their own merits.
There are no benefits to reauthorizing the CBRS as currently written, and having no bill at all would be better than the current bill. According to Godfrey, “Everybody who enjoys using Florida’s beaches should be outraged by this blatant attempt to get taxpayers to subsidize special interest projects that will destroy extremely sensitive coastal areas.
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