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Introduction

The Florida Everglades is one of the world’s treasured ecosystems (Davis and Ogden, 1994). Uniquely shaped by the slow flow of water, its vast terrain of sawgrass plains, ridges, sloughs, and tree islands used to support a high diversity of plant and animal life. This natural landscape also served as a sanctuary for Native Americans and subsequently as a vast storehouse of natural resources that fueled the region’s development. Large-scale economic development and urbanization, however, diminished the natural resources, and by the mid- to late-20th century, many of the area’s defining natural characteristics had been lost. The remnants of the original Everglades (see Figure 1-1 and Box 1-1) now compete for vital water with urban and agricultural interests, and contaminated runoff from these two activities impairs their waters.

Recognition of past declines in environmental quality, combined with continuing threats to the natural character of the remaining Everglades, led to initiation of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) in the late 1990s. This unprecedented project envisioned the expenditure of billions of dollars in a multi-decadal effort to achieve ecological restoration by restoring the hydrologic characteristics of the Everglades, where feasible, and to create a water system that simultaneously serves the needs of both the natural and the human systems of South Florida. Within this 21st-century social, economic, and political latticework, the restoration of the South Florida ecosystem is now under way, representing one of the most ambitious ecosystem renewal projects ever conceived. This report represents the second independent assessment of the progress of the CERP by the Committee on Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration Progress (CISRERP) of the National Research Council (NRC).

THE NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL AND EVERGLADES RESTORATION

The NRC has been providing scientific and technical advice related to the Everglades restoration since 1999. The NRC’s Committee on the Restora-



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1 Introduction The Florida Everglades is one of the world’s treasured ecosystems (Davis and Ogden, 1994). Uniquely shaped by the slow flow of water, its vast terrain of sawgrass plains, ridges, sloughs, and tree islands used to support a high diversity of plant and animal life. This natural landscape also served as a sanctuary for Native Americans and subsequently as a vast storehouse of natural resources that fueled the region’s development. Large-scale economic development and urbanization, however, diminished the natural resources, and by the mid- to late-20th century, many of the area’s defining natural characteristics had been lost. The remnants of the original Everglades (see Figure 1-1 and Box 1-1) now compete for vital water with urban and agricultural interests, and contaminated runoff from these two activities impairs their waters. Recognition of past declines in environmental quality, combined with con- tinuing threats to the natural character of the remaining Everglades, led to initia- tion of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) in the late 1990s. This unprecedented project envisioned the expenditure of billions of dollars in a multi-decadal effort to achieve ecological restoration by restoring the hydrologic characteristics of the Everglades, where feasible, and to create a water system that simultaneously serves the needs of both the natural and the human systems of South Florida. Within this 21st-century social, economic, and political lattice- work, the restoration of the South Florida ecosystem is now under way, represent- ing one of the most ambitious ecosystem renewal projects ever conceived. This report represents the second independent assessment of the progress of the CERP by the Committee on Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration Progress (CISRERP) of the National Research Council (NRC). THE NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL AND EVERGLADES RESTORATION The NRC has been providing scientific and technical advice related to the Everglades restoration since 1999. The NRC’s Committee on the Restora- 15

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16 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades FIGURE 1-1 Reconstructed (a) pre-drainage (circa 1850) and (b) current (1994) satellite images of the Everglades ecosystem. Figure 1-1.eps bitmap NOTE: The yellow line in (a) outlines the historical Everglades ecosystem, and the yellow line in (b) outlines the remnant Everglades ecosystem as of 1994. SOURCE: Courtesy of C. McVoy, J. Obeysekera, and W. Said, South Florida Water Management District. tion of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem (CROGEE), which operated from 1999 until 2004, was formed at the request of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force (hereafter, simply Task Force), and the committee pro- duced six reports (NRC, 2001, 2002a, 2002b, 2003a, 2003b, 2005). The NRC’s Panel to Review the Critical Ecosystem Studies Initiative produced an addi- tional report in 2003 (NRC, 2003c; see Appendix A). The Water Resources Development Act of 2000 (WRDA 2000) mandated that the U.S. Depart- ment of the Army, the Department of the Interior, and the state of Florida, in

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Introduction 17 BOX 1-1 Geographic Terms To minimize confusion, this box defines some key geographic terms used throughout this report. • The Everglades, the Everglades ecosystem, or the remnant Everglades eco- system refers to the present areas of sawgrass, marl prairie, and other wetlands south of Lake Okeechobee (Figure 1-1b). • The original, historical, or pre-drainage Everglades refers to the areas of sawgrass, marl prairie, and other wetlands south of Lake Okeechobee that existed prior to the construction of drainage canals beginning in the late 1800s (Figure 1-1a). • The Everglades watershed is the drainage that encompasses the Everglades ecosystem but also includes the Kissimmee River watershed and other smaller water- sheds north of Lake Okeechobee that ultimately supply water to the Everglades ecosystem. • The South Florida ecosystem (also known as the Greater Everglades Eco- system; see Figure 1-2) extends from the headwaters of the Kissimmee River near Orlando through Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades into Florida Bay and ultimately the Florida Keys. The boundaries of the South Florida ecosystem are determined by the boundaries of the South Florida Water Management District, the southernmost of the state’s five water management districts, although they approximately delineate the boundaries of the South Florida watershed. This designation is important and is help- ful to the restoration effort because, as many publications have made clear, taking a watershed approach to ecosystem restoration is likely to improve the results, especially when the ecosystem under consideration is as water dependent as the Everglades (NRC, 1999, 2004). The following represent legally defined geographic terms used in this report: • The Everglades Protection Area is defined in the Everglades Forever Act as comprising Water Conservation Areas (WCAs) 1 (the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge), 2A, 2B, 3A, and 3B and Everglades National Park. • The natural system is legally defined in the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 (WRDA 2000) as all land and water managed by the federal government or the state within the South Florida ecosystem (see Figure 1-3). “The term ‘natural system’ includes (i) water conservation areas; (ii) sovereign submerged land; (iii) Everglades National Park; (iv) Biscayne National Park; (v) Big Cypress National Preserve; (vi) other Federal or State (including a political subdivision of a State) land that is designated and managed for conservation purposes; and (vii) any tribal land that is designated and managed for conservation purposes, as approved by the tribe” (WRDA 2000). Many maps in this report include shorthand designations that use letters and numbers for man-made additions to the South Florida ecosystem. For example, canals are labeled C-#; levees and associated borrow canals as L-#; and structures, such as culverts, locks, pumps, spillways, control gates, and weirs, as S-#.

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18 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades consultation with the Task Force, establish an independent scientific review panel to evaluate progress toward achieving the natural system restoration goals of the CERP. The NRC’s CISRERP was therefore established in 2004 under con- tract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. After publication of the first biennial review (NRC, 2007; see Appendix B for the report summary), some members rotated off the committee and some new members were added. The committee is charged to submit biennial reports that address the follow- ing items: 1. An assessment of progress in restoring the natural system, which is defined by section 601(a) of WRDA 2000 as all of the land and water managed by the federal government and state within the South Florida ecosystem (see Figure 1-3 and Box 1-1); 2. A discussion of significant accomplishments of the restoration; 3. A discussion and evaluation of specific scientific and engineering issues that may impact progress in achieving the natural system restoration goals of the plan; and 4. An independent review of monitoring and assessment protocols to be used for evaluation of CERP progress (e.g., CERP performance measures, annual assessment reports, assessment strategies, etc.). To help it evaluate restoration progress, the committee met seven times over the course of this review; received briefings at its public meetings from agencies, organizations, and individuals involved in the restoration, as well as from the public; and took several field trips to sites with restoration activities (see Acknowledgments). In addition to information received at the meetings, the committee based its assessment of progress on information in relevant CERP and non-CERP restoration documents. The committee’s conclusions and recommendations also were informed by a review of relevant scientific literature and the experience and knowledge of the committee members in their fields of expertise. The committee was unable to consider in any detail new materials received after May 1, 2008. In late June 2008, after the committee had completed its deliberations and was about to send its report for external review, the state of Florida announced its potential purchase of 187,000 acres (almost 300 square miles) of the Everglades Agricultural Area from U.S. Sugar Corporation (see Fig- ure 1-3). Given the timing of the announcement late in the committee’s reporting cycle—coupled with the considerable uncertainty surrounding the fate of lands involved in the purchase and associated land trades, which are not yet defined (Cave, 2008)—the committee was unable to assess the implications of the land

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Introduction 19 FIGURE 1-2 The South Florida ecosystem. © International Mapping Associates Figure 1-3.eps bitmap

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20 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades FIGURE 1-3 Land and waters managed by the1-2.eps Figure state of Florida and the federal government as of December 2005 for conservation purposes within the South Florida ecosystem. bitmap SOURCE: Based on data compiled by Florida State University’s Florida Natural Areas Inventory (http://www.fnai.org/gisdata.cfm).

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Introduction 21 purchase for the CERP in any detail in this report. The purchase of these lands could have some important implications for water quality and possibly water storage for the Everglades, and the committee does draw attention to these in appropriate places in the report, but these issues will undoubtedly be analyzed in greater detail in future biennial reviews. REPORT ORGANIZATION Chapter 2 is an overview of the CERP in the context of other ongoing resto- ration activities and discusses the restoration goals that guide the overall effort. Restoration challenges and their implications for achievement of restoration goals by the CERP are discussed by analyzing recent changes to the natural system and larger-scale changes associated with population growth and climate change, which provide additional challenges for the CERP but make its imple- mentation more rather than less urgent. Progress on program implementation for the CERP is discussed in Chapter 3, including progress in implementing key CERP and non-CERP activities and issues encountered during project implementation (Tasks 1, 2, and 3). Project manage- ment, sequencing, and finances (addressing Tasks 2 and 3) are also discussed. The chapter includes an analysis of CERP implementation delays and recom- mendations for improving CERP planning and funding processes. In Chapter 4 the committee analyzes the progress of the Modified Water Deliveries to Everglades National Park project (also known as Mod Waters), an essential foundation project for the CERP that was authorized in 1989. The project affects the timing and implementation of many other parts of the restora- tion, and it reflects the difficulties that might face restoration planners in other aspects of the CERP. Lake Okeechobee is a critical component of the South Florida ecosystem. Reducing phosphorus loads to and in Lake Okeechobee and increasing water storage are essential for rehabilitation of the lake and the northern estuaries and for using the lake’s water for restoring the southern part of the ecosystem. Thus, the challenges and progress in the rehabilitation of Lake Okeechobee are described in Chapter 5. Adaptive management for the CERP requires the support of effective monitor- ing and assessment protocols and adequate hydrologic and ecological models. Therefore, recent developments from the monitoring and assessment program and modeling issues are discussed in Chapter 6 as the foundations of adaptive management (Tasks 2 and 4). A synthesis of the report’s key messages is provided in Chapter 7.

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