- Executive Summary
- Intro Policy Outreach
- Focus Areas Recommendations
- Implementation Strategy
The GreenKeys! Sustainability Action Plan is the result of a nearly 18-month planning process. It includes strategies, policies, and tools that the county can use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy and water conservation, and strengthen the overall resilience of Monroe County to climate change and sea level rise.
Monroe County includes a mainland region as well as the Florida Keys archipelago.
The county is so environmentally diverse and historically important that it contains 17 national and state parks. The mainland portion of the county consists of primarily Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve.
The Florida Keys are a collection of 1,700 islands stretching 220 miles that divide the Gulf of Mexico from the Atlantic Ocean. More than 99% of the county’s population lives in the Keys, although the islands make up only 13% of the county’s land mass.
The Florida Keys were discovered in 1513 by Spanish Explorer Juan Ponce de Leon in his search for the “Fountain of Youth.” Over the next three centuries, both Spain and Great Britain claimed Florida as a territory.
Named for the fifth president of the United States, James Monroe, Monroe County was established in 1823 as the sixth county in the Florida territory.
In 1912, a new railroad from Miami to Key West forever changed the Keys. The railway was destroyed in the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, but rebuilt by the federal government as the Overseas Highway, also known as U.S. Highway 1. As the only roadway in and out of the Keys, it remains crucial for helping tourism become the major industry it is today.
The Florida Keys are on the front lines of climate change and sea level rise. Because of their low-lying elevations, they are especially vulnerable to extreme weather events and rising seas. In fact, the highest elevation is only 18 feet above sea level, on Windley Key.
Average elevations for the three sections of the Florida Keys and the City of Key West:
Among climate scientists, there is consensus that burning fossil fuels and deforestation are primary causes of increased GHGs in the atmosphere. The consequences are dramatic:
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), sea level in South Florida has risen an average of 9 inches over the last 80 years.
Current sea level rise projections do not account for future increases in ice-sheet melting. Therefore, current estimates should be considered conservative and optimistic.
A responsible approach for the county should include the two major strategies for addressing climate change:
Public involvement and intergovernmental coordination play significant roles in forming policy and long-range visioning for the county.
The GreenKeys! recommendations were developed in collaboration with experts and stakeholders from public and private sectors, universities, and not-for-profit organizations. Participants contributed subject area knowledge as well as information about successful initiatives locally or elsewhere.
In addition, the county has numerous committees and boards, whose volunteer efforts and actions help shape and influence the county’s policies, infrastructure and design decisions, and social programs. GreenKeys! furthers county efforts already underway for sustainability and environmental stewardship.
Many of the recommendations build on best practices throughout the region. Others delve into new areas which call for the integration of climate change and sustainability into planning and decision making processes in ways that few local governments have yet implemented.