projects have not yet been finalized, future projections of benefits to the South Florida ecosystem remain unclear.
The Decomp project has been significantly delayed, although recent plans to implement an active adaptive management approach may move the project forward. Progress in implementing Decomp has been slowed by conflicts among stakeholders and inherent constraints in project planning in the face of scientific uncertainties. The committee is also concerned that project planning procedures may favor project alternatives that are limited in scope over project designs with less certain outcomes that have the potential to offer greater restoration benefits. Both the Decomp Physical Model and the LILA experiments should help resolve some of the uncertainties that are constraining the project planning process. These are impressive adaptive management activities that should improve the likelihood of restoration success. Progress could be enhanced further if these experiments pave the way for additional experiments, some at even larger scales, that could be incorporated into an incremental approach to restoration.
The active land acquisition efforts should be continued, accompanied by monitoring and regular reporting on land conversion patterns in the South Florida ecosystem. Land management for a successful CERP depends on purchasing particular sites within the project area and protecting more general areas within the South Florida ecosystem that could help meet the broad restoration goals. The committee commends the state of Florida for its aggressive and effective financial support for acquiring important parcels. Rapidly rising land costs imply that land within the project area should be acquired as soon as possible. Reallocation of funds from some construction projects into the land acquisition program may be warranted if land costs rise faster than construction costs. Understanding the land-use and land-cover changes that affect downstream hydrologic and ecological processes in the Everglades depends on monitoring of land conversions. The committee sought data on wetland development and other land-use conversions and found them difficult to locate in any synthesized form. Given the importance of wetland development to the restoration potential of the CERP, the state should closely monitor and regularly report land conversion patterns within the South Florida ecosystem to stakeholders.