ST. PETERSBURG, FL - On Thursday, August 10, 2017, Senator Bill Nelson convened a field hearing by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in USFSP’s Student Center. Titled “Threats Facing Florida’s Tourism Driven Economy,” the opening remarks by Senator Nelson and others on the committee brought attention to the negative impacts of human-caused disasters and a changing climate on tourism in the state of Florida, an issue which affects every resident in some facet. Four witnesses from various industries were given time to offer their statements imploring the senator to continue to fight for legislation and funding that will have the greatest benefit on the environment and residents of Florida. The panel of committee members then questioned the witnesses for their thoughts on how best to implement the changes needed to steward our environment and, thereby, preserve a very robust tourism industry.
Additionally, a round table of USF professors and senate staff members was held in the morning ahead of the senate committee hearing. Drawing on the knowledge from each of their fields of research, the faculty members made clear the scientific infrastructure that must remain intact in order to comprehend the impacts of natural and human-induced environmental challenges facing our population. Concerns discussed included: sea level rise and coastal structures, ports hazard management, seagrass health, clean drinking water, NASA earth observations, the importance of long-term monitoring and data collection, overfishing as the result of misguided regulation, St. Petersburg as a scientific center of excellence, and the ongoing cycle of beach erosion, renourishment and shore protection.
Story By: Sean Beckwith