CCC announces the completion of a new documentary film titled, “Higher Ground: The Battle to Save Florida’s Beaches.” Produced by CCC in partnership with award-winning environmental filmmaker CAVU (Clean Air, Visibility Unlimited), the film is drawing attention to the complex issues threatening Florida’s beaches and sea turtles, while calling for progressive new policies that will control coastal development and help Floridians adapt to the reality of an eroding shore.
Florida’s beaches are under siege—from poorly-sited coastal development; inadequate coastal construction setback policies, stronger and more frequent erosion-causing storms; and slow-rising sea levels. As private properties along the coast are threatened by erosion, panicked beachfront residents and resource managers look for relief through costly, repetitive beach nourishment projects and the construction of unsightly and harmful sea walls. Meanwhile, state and federal subsidies continue to encourage shoreline development by providing low cost insurance for the riskiest beachfront developments—all at taxpayers’ expense. This combination of factors creates a recipe for disaster that threatens the future of Florida’s sandy beaches and coastal habitats. Caught directly in the middle of this quagmire are threatened and endangered sea turtles that nest on Florida beaches in numbers seen nowhere else in the United States.
Higher Ground is being released at a pivotal time in the history of coastal management in Florida. Due to recent coastal storms and extensive beach erosion, there is widespread concern about the wisdom of allowing risky development on critically eroding beaches. Scientific institutions around the globe increasingly are speaking out about the reality of sea level rise and encouraging world leaders to prepare. Florida has been singled out as being particularly vulnerable to the threats of climate change and rising seas. Recreational groups, such as surfers, divers and sport fishers, are becoming increasingly concerned about the impacts of repetitive beach nourishment and the spread of sea walls. And general beach goers are finding it more difficult to find suitable beach access on developed shores.
Capitalizing on growing public unrest with beach protection policies and new lawmaker interest in coastal policy reform, the film is being used by CCC to encourage debate on these complex issues. The aerial perspective provided through Higher Ground is helping people understand more fully the current state of Florida’s beaches and the implications for the future. The film provides CCC with an excellent communication tool for compelling the public, the media, lawmakers and beach managers to discuss and debate the need for creative new coastal policies—before it is too late.