incentive systems in the Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District that reward personnel for completing large projects “on time and under budget” tend to promote inflexibility in decision making. This is not to say that delays and cost overruns are desirable, but to point out that there are no obvious incentives for taking a more precautionary approach to the restoration with more reliance on pilot projects, contingency planning, and non-structural solutions to achieve ecological goals. Others noted that the current organizational strategy does not provide a direct linkage between science and decision making related to water management. Finally, some workshop participants noted that there are no guidelines or “policies” for when to change the plan. This is especially difficult given multiple time lags between implementation of a restoration project and ecosystem responses at different spatial and temporal scales.
Just as flexibility of Restoration Plan design and operation is crucial to adaptive assessment management of the Everglades, societal flexibility and acceptance of scientific uncertainty are essential to the adaptive assessment mix so that modifications of policy that require changes to ecosystem drivers to achieve restoration goals and objectives are understood and accepted. Education and outreach about the scientific issues is central to fostering societal flexibility and acceptance of uncertainty by the public, decision-makers, and legislators. As a result, education is central to the success of the project. Institutional arrangements for transferring science advice to policy-makers and education of the public must be clearly identified in the Monitoring and Assessment Plan. Specific arrangements need to be made to communicate scientific conclusions about the functioning of the ecosystem to the decision-makers in the executive and legislative branches of government. Linkages should be designed to connect the RECOVER Senior Management Team and the Science Coordination Team to the Restoration Plan decision-makers. The key is to have frequent conversations with the decision-makers to inform them of the changing state of knowledge, so that they can make decisions based on current scientific information.
Another important linkage, which does not seem well developed thus far in the Everglades would be between the adaptive assessment process and citizen advisory groups. This linkage has been developed in other restoration efforts such as the Glen Canyon Dam project (NRC, 1996b).
In summary, it is not clear if there is enough flexibility in the Restoration Plan design to provide opportunities to respond to ecosystem response “surprises” or indeed other operational and system changes that will probably arise during implementation of the plan. Most of the flexibility within the Restoration Plan appears to be related to operational features rather than primary construction. To maximize the potential to apply results of increased understanding of the ecosystem, project design should attempt to maximize the range of operational conditions. Monitoring and process studies should focus on hydrologic and ecological features for which improved prediction of response can lead to project modification that will lead to a more successful result.