Local environmentalist says sea level on the rise in Southwest Florida

According to a story in the Naples Herald, erosion and drainage is going to be an increasing problem in Florida due to rising sea levels:

Michael J. Barry started to study the sea level rise on the coast of Southwest Florida 10 years ago as an employee of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. After becoming a private contractor, he continues to study the effects that sea level rise is having on the coast of the state, specifically the vegetation shifts inland due to saltwater intrusion.

Barry, 47, grew up in the southern end of Portage, Michigan with an interest in nature and the environment, but it wasn’t until college, Barry found a reason to make a living as an advocate for climate change and as a contractor documenting vegetation shifts in the mangrove swamps of Southwest Florida.

“Growing up in Florida, you have to really want to be in those mangrove swamps to do it, and I like it,” Barry said. “What we’re seeing out there and what we have seen out there is what already is and will affect us all.”

Although he has only been a contractor for 10 years, for the past 20 Barry has been paying close attention to sea level rise on the coast of Southwest Florida and watching changes in the environment accelerate relative to the average rate of change over the past 3,000 years.

Barry began studying pre-engineering for his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan in 1985. But two courses instantly lured him away from pursing an engineering degree, and it cemented his decision to change majors and begin studying at the UM School of Natural Resources.

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