Interior Department Accomplishments in Everglades Restoration Since 2000
(Note: This is a Control Agenda for all the resources of Florida, including the human resources, because people are controlled when water and land is controlled. This is government run amok, implementing "The Wildlands Project" and using taxpayer dollars to do it.)
January 10, 2003
News: U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of the Secretary
Contact: Hugh Vickery 202-208-6416 [email protected]
President Bush and Governor Jeb Bush signed an agreement in January 2002, to restore the Everglades, as required under the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). The agreement is enforceable and binding. It will ensure the restoration of natural flows to the Everglades. Under the agreement, the state commits to managing its water resources so that water produced by the plan's implementation will be available to restore the natural system. Meanwhile, the federal government commits to be an active partner in obtaining funding and working with the state to implement the plan.
Interior staff has assisted the Army Corps of Engineers in its development of the programmatic regulations that will be soon be finalized to guide CERP. While final regulations have not been published, the Department believes they will establish an appropriate framework for restoration, and the Interior Department and its agencies will play a significant role in implementing CERP.
President Bush proposed $96 million for Interior's 2003 Budget for Everglades Restoration, including funding for the modified water delivery project in Everglades National Park to restore natural flows, to protect wildlife habitat and restore endangered species, and to purchase land to secure additional fresh water. The Department anticipates Congressional approval soon.
The Department reached an agreement in principle to acquire the Collier oil and gas holdings in Big Cypress National Preserve, which will protect that resource for future generations. The final agreement is close to completion.
The South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, chaired by Ann Klee, counselor to Interior Secretary Norton, has met numerous times this year to continue discussions among governmental representatives and stakeholders about the development of the Army Corps of Engineers' programmatic regulations for the restoration plan, and other issues related to the restoration effort.
The Fish and Wildlife Service and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) approved a 50-year license agreement under which the Service will continue to manage state-owned lands that make up 97 percent of Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. The license agreement represents a commitment by the Department to work cooperatively with the State in managing this important resource.
The Corps of Engineers and the SFWMD have worked in partnership with the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a series of interim water management operations to avoid jeopardy to the endangered Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow. The most recent of these is the Interim Operational Plan, or "IOP." The Department is working with the Corps and SFWMD to monitor and evaluate actual IOP operations and will incorporate the results of the monitoring into the development of the "Combined Structural and Operational Plan" or "CSOP." Furthermore, the agencies will increase stakeholder participation in the development of CSOP to incorporate a full range of views into the decision-making process.
The Fish and Wildlife Service, in partnership with SFWMD, is implementing the Loxahatchee Impoundment Landscape Assessment Cooperative Agreement (LILA), a research project that will serve as a pilot study for hydrologic regimes proposed under CERP. The objective of the project is to define hydrologic regimes that sustain a healthy Everglades ecosystem including wading bird, tree island, and ridge and slough communities. The approach will be to sculpt key Everglades landscape features, overlay controlled hydrologic regimes with flow rates that simulate historic flows, and measure response by wading birds, tree islands and ridge and sloughs. Two impoundments (80 acres) at Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge will be altered to create representative Everglades ridge and slough habitat and tree islands.
The Department is planning to hold an "avian summit" this spring under the auspices of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. The summit will review all scientific information on federally listed and key indicator avian species in South Florida, including the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow, wood stork, snail kite and roseatte spoon-bill.
The National Park Service has acquired virtually all remaining lands within Everglades National Park [inholders], thereby providing permanent protection for this important resource.
The National Park Service is on the verge of eliminating melaleuca at Big Cypress National Preserve. The Department also freed up $1 million to eradicate invasive species at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge and successfully treated 18,000 acres. Work has begun on a $6.2 million invasive species research facility that will help develop better techniques of controlling melaleuca and other exotic species in the Everglades.
In 2001, the Department provided $12 million to Florida to allow the state to purchase important properties within the Everglades system, including the 5,000-acre Grassy Island Ranch north of Lake Okeechobee, that will be used to capture additional quantities of freshwater and restore natural hydrological flow. This year, the Department intends to provide $15 million in similar land acquisition grants.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is finalizing its plan to ensure the recovery of the endangered Key deer, a species native to the Florida Keys at the extreme southern end of the greater Everglades Ecosystem. The population, which once numbered about 300 during the 1970s, has grown to an estimated 600-700 individuals. The Service will begin moving deer from the core area on Big Pine Key to more remote areas in adjacent keys. If successful, this will ensure that there are at least three populations, which will increase the likelihood of survival into the foreseeable future. The first of these translocations of deer is scheduled for the spring of this year.
A team of experts assembled by Fish and Wildlife Service biologists developed a draft landscape conservation strategy for panthers in south Florida using an open and collaborative process. The strategy identifies lands essential for the continued conservation of panthers in south Florida, as well as a landscape linkage to provide for population expansion to aid in recovery of the species.