complex interconnectedness of hydrologic systems and the ecosystems they support. Successful environmental restoration projects, like more traditional water resources projects, require integrated systems planning. The unique challenges and opportunities presented by this increased focus on restoration and stewardship thus warrant fuller exploration.
In the early 1990s, ecosystem restoration was formally stated as a primary mission of the Corps of Engineers civil works program. The Corps’ objective in ecosystem restoration planning is to “contribute to National Ecosystem Restoration (NER). These contributions, or NER outputs, are defined in the Corps Planning Guidance Notebook (PGN) as “increases in the net quantity and/or quality of desired ecosystem resources” (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 2000b, Section 2.2[b]).
When Lt. General Henry Hatch, former chief of engineers and commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, addressed the American Society of Civil Engineers in the fall of 1989, he said, “It is we engineers who hold most of the keys to the solutions of the world’s environmental problems.” As Corps leaders accepted their new mission to protect the environment, they also conceded that the Corps’ past practices unintentionally damaged sensitive ecosystems and asserted that adequate engineering expertise exists to correct these problems. The $9.4 billion Corps budget for fiscal year (FY) 1990-1991 included roughly $1 billion for environmental restoration projects, which ranged from hazardous waste cleanups at military bases to the creation of wetlands. The FY 1990-1991 budget also included funds to modify several existing Corps projects for the purposes of ecosystem restoration, such as restoring wildlife areas along the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and rebuilding fish habitat along the Columbia River. Funding for the Corps’ environmental programs has increased dramatically over the past decade (Figure 3-1); most notable is funding for extraordinarily large-scale projects such as the Everglades restoration and the restoration activities being considered in Louisiana.
By 2003, the Corps had proposed environmental enhancement and restoration projects in 35 states; some examples include requests for $95 million for fish habitat restoration in the Columbia River basin, $22 million for Missouri River fish and wildlife mitigation, and $127 million for ecosystem restoration in South Florida. Environmental enhancement and restoration projects comprise one-third of new Corps projects (including