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Whitney Gray discusses how endangered species may adapt to the climate change at the Public Interest Environmental Conference

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Florida’s native species may be endangered due to the geography of the state and the rising sea levels, one expert said.

Whitney Gray, sea level rise coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Florida Sea Grant, spoke in a Friday morning session of an environmental conference on the University of Florida campus.

The 19th Annual Public Interest Environmental Conference is being held Thursday through Saturday at the Levin College of Law.

Her session, “The Times they are A’Changing: Florida’s Listed Species and Climate Adaption,” discussed how endangered species may adapt to the climate change and what people can do to help.

When asked about how species in Florida are affected, Gray said she believes they are at a uniquely high risk, due to the state’s sloping land and problems with rising sea levels.

“The average person can do so much,” she said. “Recycle everything you can; treat every bit of waste as if it was a resource to be used over again instead of creating new.”

Gray recommends restoring your yard with native species to help create a good environment for the species already there. She also said people who are more inclined toward activism can participate in different campaigns and donate money.

“Somebody who cares about Florida’s environment and Florida’s species can help change hearts and minds and make Florida’s species come first in the minds of the big funding in the government,” Gray said.

Gray said she feels it’s her mission to help people understand what rising sea levels could do to Florida.

“To me, it’s important that people understand that it’s not just going to effect their life, their little bubble that they live in, but it’s going to effect the lives of everything around them,” she said. “Our economy is intrinsically tied to our environment and our ecology, so we’re going to feel effects.”

Sarah Brand edited this story online.

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