3
Project Planning and Implementation

This committee is charged with the task of discussing significant accomplishments of the restoration and to assess “the progress toward achieving the natural system restoration goals of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP)” (see Chapter 1). The first National Research Council (NRC) review of restoration progress noted that in the first 6 years after the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 (WRDA 2000) was authorized, actual construction progress was limited. Instead, most of the CERP accomplishments were programmatic (e.g., land acquisition, project implementation reports [PIRs; see Box 3-1]) to lay the foundation for later project construction (NRC, 2007). In 2008, the beginning of construction for some CERP projects is encouraging, but many CERP and non-CERP restoration projects have been delayed and are far behind their planned completions, and for a variety of reasons, most CERP accomplishments remain programmatic.

In this chapter, an update to the NRC’s previous assessment of CERP and related non-CERP project planning and implementation progress is provided (NRC, 2007). The chapter includes discussions of important issues related to CERP progress, such as funding and sequencing. Important challenges are addressed for restoration planning, including incremental adaptive restoration, endangered species, and current project planning impediments. In Chapter 6, details are provided on additional programmatic progress, including the monitoring and assessment plan, development of modeling tools, and other ways in which the foundations of adaptive management are being built in support of the restoration.

PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION

Actual progress restoring the natural system in the South Florida ecosystem will come about only through implementation of restoration projects. The analysis of implementation progress that follows is focused on the CERP, but



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 71
3 Project Planning and Implementation This committee is charged with the task of discussing significant accom- plishments of the restoration and to assess “the progress toward achieving the natural system restoration goals of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP)” (see Chapter 1). The first National Research Council (NRC) review of restoration progress noted that in the first 6 years after the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 (WRDA 2000) was authorized, actual construction progress was limited. Instead, most of the CERP accomplishments were program- matic (e.g., land acquisition, project implementation reports [PIRs; see Box 3-1]) to lay the foundation for later project construction (NRC, 2007). In 2008, the beginning of construction for some CERP projects is encouraging, but many CERP and non-CERP restoration projects have been delayed and are far behind their planned completions, and for a variety of reasons, most CERP accomplish- ments remain programmatic. In this chapter, an update to the NRC’s previous assessment of CERP and related non-CERP project planning and implementation progress is provided (NRC, 2007). The chapter includes discussions of important issues related to CERP progress, such as funding and sequencing. Important challenges are addressed for restoration planning, including incremental adaptive restoration, endangered species, and current project planning impediments. In Chapter 6, details are provided on additional programmatic progress, including the moni- toring and assessment plan, development of modeling tools, and other ways in which the foundations of adaptive management are being built in support of the restoration. PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION Actual progress restoring the natural system in the South Florida ecosys- tem will come about only through implementation of restoration projects. The analysis of implementation progress that follows is focused on the CERP, but 71

OCR for page 71
72 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades BOX 3-1 CERP Project Planning: Project Implementation Reports Project implementation reports (PIRs) are decision documents that bridge the gap between the conceptual design contained in the Yellow Book (USACE and SFWMD, 1999) and the detailed design necessary to proceed to construction. PIRs for most CERP projects are sent to the U.S. Congress for approval as part of the project planning and authorization process (Figure 3-1). No federal funding in support of mid- to large-sized CERP project construction can be appropriated before PIR approval and project authorization. However, the Secretary of the Army can approve PIRs and proceed with construction for small CERP projects (projects under $25M, with a total not to exceed $206M) under program authority. The final draft Guidance Memoranda (USACE and SFWMD, 2007a) describe the expected contents and supporting analyses required in the PIRs. The PIR includes an evaluation of alternative designs and operations for their environmental benefits in relation to costs, as well as engineering feasibility. Each PIR also includes detailed analyses that support the justification for a project being next in the queue for CERP implementation as opposed to being delayed to a later time. Each PIR must show conformance with the Savings Clause in WRDA 2000, including a statement of the water reservation for the natural system and for other uses. The Restoration, Coordination, and Verification (RECOVER) program reviews the draft PIR, evaluates the benefits of project alternatives, and assesses the contri- bution of the project to meeting the overall goals of the CERP. RECOVER also evaluates the project’s contributions toward meeting the interim goals and interim targets. Project Congressional Cooperation Authorization Agreement Project Plans Project Implementation Detailed Operate Construct & Mgmt Report Design Specs Plan (including NEPA) Real Estate Acquisition Monitoring and Assessment FIGURE 3-1 CERP project development process. SOURCE: Adapted from Appelbaum (2004). Figure 3-1.eps

OCR for page 71
Project Planning and Implementation 73 implementation progress for related non-CERP projects is summarized, with more details provided in Appendix C. A detailed analysis of progress in one criti- cal non-CERP foundation project, the Modified Water Deliveries to Everglades National Park Project (Mod Waters), is provided in Chapter 4. Additional detail on implementation progress can be found in the CERP Annual Report (Williams, 2008), Tracking Success (SFERTF, 2007a), and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the South Florida ecosystem restoration (GAO, 2007). CERP Project Implementation The original Yellow Book plan (USACE and SFWMD, 1999) defined 68 projects and identified a schedule for implementation. An updated implementation schedule called the Master Implementation Sequencing Plan (MISP) (USACE and SFWMD, 2005a) was released that organized CERP projects into seven 5-year bands, according to their estimated completion dates. The status of the earliest planned CERP projects—those that were expected, as of 2005, to be completed between 2005 and 2010—are summarized in Table 3-1 (also called Band 1 projects; see Figure 3-2). MISP Band 1 includes those CERP projects expedited by the state of Florida through its Acceler8 program, launched in 2004.1 Band 1 includes projects with the primary purposes of habitat restoration, water storage, seepage manage- ment, and improved future project design (see Appendix D). As of July 2008, at least four CERP restoration projects are under construc- tion, and four CERP pilot projects are in an installation and testing phase. Many more projects are in planning and design phases (see Tables 3-1 and 3-2). However, not a single CERP project has been completed as of the production of this report. Many of the early projects are already well behind schedule, and the 2005 MISP is already outdated (see Figure 3-3). The GAO notes that some CERP projects are behind schedule by up to 6 years (GAO, 2007). Reasons for these delays are discussed later in this chapter. A few project components expedited by the state of Florida through the Acceler8 program or through other initiatives are proceeding on or ahead of the original Yellow Book schedule: C-51 and L-8 Basin Reservoir, Phase 1 (projected completion 2008 versus 2011 in the Yellow Book) and Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands, Phase 1 (projected completion 2011 versus 2018 in the Yellow Book) (Table 3-1). The remaining Acceler8 projects show delays similar to the other MISP Band 1 CERP projects (Figure 3-3). The Committee on Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration (CISRERP) has found it difficult, however, to obtain reliable projected completion For more information, see http://www.evergladesnow.org. 1

OCR for page 71
74 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades TABLE 3-1 Updated CERP Band 1 Project Status Yellow Book MISP 1.0 Current (1999) (2005) (2008) Estimated Estimated Estimated Completion Completion Completion Project or Component Name Date Date Date Caloosahatchee River (C-43) ASR Pilot (Fig. 3-2, No. 1) 2002 2006 2012 Hillsboro ASR Pilot 2002 2006 2009 (Fig. 3-2, No. 2) Lake Okeechobee ASR Pilot 2001 2007 2012 (Fig. 3-2, No. 5) L-31 (L-30) Seepage Management Pilot 2002 2008 2010 (Fig. 3-2, No. 4) Melaleuca Eradication and Other Exotic Plants 2011 2007 2026 Winsberg Farms Wetlands Restoration (Fig. 3-2, No. 3) 2005 2008 2010 Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands (Phase 1) 2018 2008 2011 (Fig. 3-2, No. 6) Picayune Strand Restoration (Formerly called Southern 2005 2009 2015 Golden Gate Estates) (Fig. 3-2, No. 7) Indian River Lagoon - South 2023 (Fig. 3-2, No. 8) - C-44 Reservoir* 2007 2009 2014 - Natural Areas Real Estate Acquisition (Phase 1) Not specified 2009 Not specified Broward County WPAs 2017 - C-9 Impoundment* 2007 2009 2014 (Fig. 3-2, No. 9) - Western C-11 Diversion Impoundment* 2008 2009 2014 (Fig. 3-2, No. 10) - WCA 3A-3B Levee Seepage Management* 2008 2008 2017 (Fig. 3-2, No. 9,10) Acme Basin B Discharge 2006 2007 2009 (Fig. 3-2, No. 11) Site 1 Impoundment* 2007 2009 2013 (Phase 1) (Fig. 3-2, No. 2) C-111 Spreader Canal* 2008 2008 PIR#1: 2011 (Fig. 3-2, No. 12) PIR #2: TBD

OCR for page 71
Project Planning and Implementation 75 Construction Status Project Implementation (or Installation and Original Cost Estimated Cost Report (PIR) and Testing Status for (in millions of (in millionsa) Authorization Status Planning/Design Pilots) 1999 dollars) from 2007 IFP NA Ongoing Ongoing 6 8.3 ¸ NA Ongoing 9 9.3 ¸ NA Ongoing 19 27.4 ¸ NA Ongoing 10 12.0 In development Ongoing NA 5.8 8.3 Phase 1: ¸ In development Ongoing 14.1 18.1 Phase 2: Not begun Phase 1: ¸ In development Not Begun 300 438 (Phases 1 & 2) ¸ Submitted to Congress in Ongoing 46 393 Sept. 2005; Authorized in WRDA 2007 Submitted to Congress in 823 1,497 Aug. 2004; Authorized in WRDA 2007 ¸ Ongoing Unknown NA Final April 2007 314 691 Ongoing Not Begun Ongoing Not Begun Ongoing Not Begun ¸ Discontinuedb Ongoing 20 28 Submitted to Congress in Ongoing Not Begun 39 84 Dec. 2006; Authorized in WRDA 2007 PIR #1: In development Ongoing Not Begun 94 370 continued

OCR for page 71
76 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades TABLE 3-1 Continued Yellow Book MISP 1.0 Current (1999) (2005) (2008) Estimated Estimated Estimated Completion Completion Completion Project or Component Name Date Date Date North Palm Beach County – Part 1 - C-51 and L-8 Basin Reservoir, Phase 1 (PBA) 2011 2008 2008c (Fig. 3-2, No. 13) Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir (Fig. 3-2, No. 14) - Part 1, Phase 1* 2009 2009 2010d Lake Okeechobee Watershed 2015 - Lake Istokpoga Regulation Schedule* 2001 2008 Not specified (Fig. 3-2, No. 15) Modify Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area Not specified 2009 2009 Operation Plan (Fig. 3-2, No. 16) Lakes Park Restoration 2004 2009 TBD (Fig. 3-2, No. 17) C-43 Basin Storage Reservoir 2012 2010 2013 (Fig. 3-2, No. 1) NOTES: Gray shading reflects projects being expedited and/or carried out entirely with state funding as of 2007. In most cases, construction of these projects was moving forward prior to the finalization of the PIR. Some of these projects are still considered CERP components, while others are now considered outside of the CERP. Recently, several state-expedited projects have reverted back to the USACE for remaining design and construction (e.g., Site 1 Impoundment, Broward County WPAs, Picayune Strand). * Projects that were conditionally authorized in WRDA 2000, subject to approval of the PIR. Project costs in the Integrated Financial Plan (IFP) (SFERTF, 2007a) were reported as constant 2006 dollars, with the a exception of the Acceler8 projects, which were reported as the present day value at the time the estimate was performed (~2007). The SFWMD has decided to work with local interests to complete the design and construction of the Acme Basin B b Discharge project and the Lakes Park Restoration project outside of the CERP. Cost sharing under the CERP is not antici- pated, thus work on these two PIRs has been discontinued, and CERP Planning/Design efforts have been ended. Although the IFP indicates that the C-51 and L-8 basin reservoir, Phase 1 (PBA), is scheduled to be completed by the end c of 2008 with the use of temporary pumps, full capacity will not be available until construction of the final pump station, likely in fiscal year 2010. Construction of the permanent pump station was recently moved into Phase 2 of the project.

OCR for page 71
Project Planning and Implementation 77 Construction Status Project Implementation (or Installation and Original Cost Estimated Cost Report (PIR) and Testing Status for (in millions of (in millionsa) Authorization Status Planning/Design Pilots) 1999 dollars) from 2007 IFP In development 437 608 ¸ Ongoing 437 594 ¸ Revised Draft in Ongoing (but development temporarily halted)c In development 456 643 Ongoing NA NA Ongoing NA 0 0 Discontinuedb Ongoing Not Begun 5.2 6.6 ¸ Final Sept. 2007 Not Begun 440 531 (Reservoir and (Reservoir and ASR) ASR) The EAA Storage Reservoir project is on hold, pending the resolution of two lawsuits underway (USA, d et al. v. SFWMD, et al. 1:88-cv-01886-FAM; NRDC, et al. v. USACE, 9:07-cv-80444-DIV-Middlebrooks). If the state of Florida acquires large land holdings in the EAA from the U.S. Sugar Corporation, opportunities made available by this acquisition could affect future plans for completing the EAA Storage Reservoir. SOURCES: DOI and USACE (2005); L. Gerry, SFWMD, personal communication (2008); G. Landers, USACE, personal communication (2008); Project Status Reports from www.evergladesplan.org; SFERTF (2007a); USACE and SFWMD (1999). ¸=Complete NA= not applicable TBD = to be determined

OCR for page 71
78 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades Figure 3-2.eps FIGURE 3-2 Locations of Band 1 CERP project components. © International Mapping Associates bitmap

OCR for page 71
Project Planning and Implementation 79 TABLE 3-2 Status of 88 CERP and CERP-Related Restoration Projects Not Yet Implemented Planning/ Not Yet Completed In Implementation Design Started Total CERP 0 7 21 32 60 Related non-CERP projects 15 10 3 0 28 NOTE: Related non-CERP projects “when completed, will serve as the foundation for many of the CERP projects and are intended to restore a more natural water flow to Everglades National Park and improve water quality in the ecosystem” (GAO, 2007). See Appendix E for the names and status of the 88 projects. GAO (2007) also includes an assessment of 134 South Florida restoration projects that are not related to CERP and that do not serve as a foundation for the CERP. SOURCE: GAO (2007). 2026 Melaleuca Eradication State-expedited projects (through 2007) 2024 CERP Band 1 (non-Acceler8) 2022 Current Estimated Completion Date 2020 Increasing delays 2018 WCA Seepage Mgmt (9, 10) 2016 C-9 Impoundment (9) Picayune Strand (7) C-11 Impoundment (10) IRL South: C-44 Reservoir (8) 2014 Lake Okeechobee Site 1 ASR Pilot (5) C-43 Reservoir (1) Impoundment (2) 2012 C-43 ASR Pilot (1) Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands (6) Winsburg Farm (3) EAA Res, Phase 1 (14) 2010 L-31 Seepage Mgmt Pilot (4) Hillsboro Rotenberger Operation Plan (16) ASR Pilot (2) Acme Basin B 2008 (11) C-51 and L-8 Reservoir (13) Increasingly accelerated 2006 implementation schedule 2004 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 MISP Projected Completion Date FIGURE 3-3 Project delays for CERP Band 1 projects, including state-expedited projects (e.g., Acceler8), based on projections from the Master Implementation Sequencing Plan (MISP) (USACE and SFWMD, 2005a) compared with estimated completion dates shown in Table 3-1. New 3-3 NOTE: Some Acceler8 projects in 2008 are being returned to the USACE for completion as part of the federal government’s share of the CERP, but the circles in this figure reflect those projects expedited by the state of Florida as of 2007. Numbers in parentheses reference project location on Figure 3-2.

OCR for page 71
80 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades dates from the CERP Web site and other information, probably in large part because the agencies themselves cannot overcome uncertainties in availability of funds. Available information on estimated completion dates in various docu- ments is often contradictory. A more effective public communication mechanism is needed. The challenge for the CERP agencies is how to develop a realistic schedule in the face of these daunting financial uncertainties. Natural System Benefits Derived from CERP Implementation According to the MISP (USACE and SFWMD, 2005a), eight projects and four pilot projects were scheduled for completion by 2008, within the time-reporting range of this current NRC review. Installation for some pilot projects have been completed by 2008, but none have completed testing and analysis. No restoration projects are anticipated to be fully constructed by the end of 2008, although a few project subcomponents are nearing completion that will deliver some restoration benefits. These early benefits are described in the paragraphs that follow. One project nearing completion is the L-8 Basin Reservoir (also called the C-51 and L-8 Basin Reservoir; see Figure 3-2 [No. 13] and Figure 3-4), a state- expedited project that includes an in-ground reservoir at the location of existing rock-mining pits with a storage capacity of about 48,000 acre-feet. The purpose of this project is to provide additional water storage that will increase water supply and reduce damaging high discharges to the Lake Worth Lagoon. Lake Worth Lagoon was historically a freshwater lake that was made estuarine by the creation of permanent inlets. Discharges from drainage canals result in occa- sional excessive releases of fresh water into the estuary. The L-8 Basin Reservoir project will also enhance hydroperiods in the Loxahatchee Slough and increase base flows to the Northwest Fork of the Loxahatchee River, which flows into the Loxahatchee Estuary (USACE and SFWMD, 2005b). The Loxahatchee Estuary has been heavily altered by inlet stabilization, channelization, and basin drainage. Drainage canals and disruption of natural flow patterns have resulted in salt water intrusion and loss of cypress swamp in the Northwest Fork and increased stormwater flows into the Southwest Fork. A future flow way project will direct excess water into the Grassy Waters Preserve (Figure 3-4). Construction of the permanent pumping infrastructure has been delayed until 2010, but the L-8 Basin Reservoir is scheduled to begin operating with a temporary pump by the end of 2008. Water reservations for this project have not yet been determined, as the PIR has not been completed for this state accelerated project. Sediment dredg- ing from the C-51 canal is also under way in the vicinity of Lake Worth Lagoon (as part of the North Palm Beach County Phase 1 project) to reduce sediment discharged to the lagoon.

OCR for page 71
Project Planning and Implementation 81 FIGURE 3-4 Location of the C-51 and L-8 Reservoir project. Figure 3-4.eps SOURCE: USACE and SFWMD (2005b). bitmap A number of other projects currently under construction are showing some phased benefits. For example, a new pump station constructed as part of the Acme Basin B project (Figure 3-2, No. 11) pumps stormwater into the C-51 canal and to STA-1E where it is treated before entering Water Conservation Area (WCA) 1. This state-expedited initiative eliminates the direct discharge of high- phosphorus stormwater from the urban area into WCA-1 (L. Gerry, SFWMD, personal communication, 2008). The Picayune Strand project (Figure 3-2, No. 7), currently under way, aims to restore and enhance over 55,000 acres of public lands by plugging and filling canals and returning sheet flow to the project site and adjacent natural areas, including the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve, Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, Ten Thousand Island National Wildlife Refuge, and Collier Seminole State Park. Through this state-expedited project, 65 miles of roads were removed, and more than 160 structures and numerous

OCR for page 71
98 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades implementation is required to elicit measureable results, particularly for scale- dependent hydrologic and ecological responses. On the other hand, the more factors that are affected through large-scale modifications, the more difficult it is to sort out cause-and-effect relationships. Also, many topographical and ecosystem responses develop over decades, making it difficult to incorporate knowledge into adaptive learning on the shorter time frames required to improve operations and subsequent project design. Finally, the project components considered are themselves very large projects, and there may be a reluctance to fully admit the uncertainties embedded in them or to commit the necessary resources to resolve the uncertainties as they progress. While the committee recognizes that the dual attraction of early restora- tion benefits and learning has stimulated creative approaches for more-effective integration of projects in the southern Everglades as well as incremental imple- mentation of other CERP projects, it suggests that the most-effective applications of the IAR concept will probably be in the incremental execution of project components that produce significant outcomes but are of a scope and scale that can be feasibly implemented and assessed. It is in such more-limited applications of IAR where the opportunities for testing hypotheses to resolve uncertainties are greatest. In addition to the continued efforts to apply adaptive management in the Decomp project there might be an IAR focus on design and outcome assessment for the C-111 Spreader Canal, or as it is now being conceived, the Taylor Slough Enhancement, within the broader integrated planning of southern Everglades restoration projects. Furthermore, because many desired ecological changes are likely to take many years or decades to respond to IAR actions, emphasis should be placed on assessing variables, such as sediment flow and water quality, that are leading indicators of likely long-term ecological responses. Endangered Species Act Impacts on Restoration The original vision of the CERP was that, through a combination of land acquisition and ecosystem restoration, the project would increase the extent, quality, and connectedness of habitats for multiple threatened and endan- gered species, thereby reducing the need for intensive single-species recovery efforts and avoiding the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) conflicts and litiga- tion. In practice, conflicts over endangered species have delayed CERP and related foundation projects such as Mod Waters (Rizzardi, 2001). In this section, alternative management approaches are discussed to minimize legal conflicts over endangered species management that threaten to further delay Everglades restoration. More than 65 species of plants and animals in Central and South Florida

OCR for page 71
Project Planning and Implementation 99 are listed under the ESA as either endangered or threatened. Lawsuits have been filed over water management or construction impacts on the Cape Sable seaside sparrow, snail kites, and wood storks (Rizzardi, 2007). The potential for conflicts only grows with continued delays in ecological restoration because of the sen- sitivity of many of the listed species to water management regimes. Much of the recent ESA-related litigation has been over water management in the WCAs and associated hydrologic regimes in Everglades National Park. Emergency water management for Cape Sable seaside sparrows under the interim operational plan (IOP) illustrates the failure of species-by-species management. The resulting water regimes have led to unwanted flooding of tribal lands and probably have contributed to declines of snail kites and tree islands in WCA-3A. Benefits to the sparrows under IOP have been mixed at best (SEI, 2007). Until flow is partially restored through Mod Waters and Decomp, water managers will continue to debate trade-offs “over which species will be allowed to suffer the most from ongoing ecosystem degradation” (SEI, 2007). The single-species focus of the ESA, coupled with CERP planning deficien- cies, is creating substantial problems in a multispecies environment. The CERP currently lacks scientifically credible, conceptual, and operational bases for managing multiple species at risk (SEI, 2007). The South Florida Multi-species Recovery Plan considers 68 listed species and 23 plant communities, but it addresses each individually and provides practically no guidance on how to manage trade-offs among species, to set priorities, or to deal with regulatory requirements and conflicts. Effective multispecies management will require three main initiatives: a higher level of interaction among species specialists; contin- ued development and application of ecological models, like the Across Trophic Level System Simulation (ATLSS), that can be used to examine potential species trade-offs in space and time (e.g., Curnutt et al., 2000); and formulation of a robust decision framework for managing multiple species under uncertainty (e.g., Nicholson and Possingham, 2007). At the same time, the ESA should be applied less reactively and without such extensive procedural delays (Bean, 2006). The ESA provides various mechanisms to avoid litigation and facilitate the management of multiple-listed species during the transition period of CERP implementation. These include incidental-take permits for multiple species, multispecies habitat conservation plans (HCPs) for incidental take of species on nonfederal lands, and safe-harbor agreements for those restoration activi- ties that might provide ephemeral local benefits to species where subsequent activities might result in indirect take of those same species (Rizzardi, 2007). As a last resort, the Endangered Species Committee can approve an exemption to the ESA. Given the advanced stage of CERP planning and the large amount of federal

OCR for page 71
100 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades land, pursuing a multispecies HCP for the Everglades is probably ill advised. Successful multispecies HCPs at the scale of CERP have been established in California, Arizona, and elsewhere, but not without considerable time, cost, and controversy (Scott et al., 2006). However, there may be opportunities for programmatic permitting that could reduce single-species ESA-driven conflict. Under the ESA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) can authorize permits to “enhance the propagation or survival” of listed species. This provision has been used in restoration activities elsewhere to obtain incidental-take permits covering multiple species. Bean (2006) described the example of the Peninsula Open Space Land Trust near San Francisco, which obtained a programmatic permit allowing incidental take of listed species during prescribed burns as part of a large-scale, long-term grassland restoration program. The Archbold Biological Station in the upper Kissimmee River basin has a similar agreement with the FWS permitting incidental take from a controlled burning program designed to mimic the historical fire regime, to enhance bio- logical diversity, to promote threatened and endangered species, and to reduce fire hazards (H. Swain, Archbold Biological Station, personal communication, 2007). Obtaining such permits is not simple: The Peninsular Open Space Trust required 2 years to obtain their permit and had to endure a number of setbacks by the local FWS office (Bean, 2006). The Department of the Interior (DOI) should take a leadership role by convening a high-level group of science and policy experts to explore the available approaches and produce a multispecies adaptive management strategy to accompany the existing South Florida Multi- species Recovery Plan. As pointed out by Goble (2006), the ESA has evolved since 1973 from a prohibitive statute into a somewhat more flexible permitting system. ESA con- flicts of a scale comparable to CERP have been resolved through scientifically based conservation planning and private and public cooperation, particularly at local and state levels. The CERP benefits from a depth of biological data and scientific understanding that far exceed these other efforts. In principle, a scien- tifically strong and administratively streamlined multispecies management plan for endangered (and nonendangered) species is possible. Programmatic permits could facilitate CERP adaptive management and restoration but would require flexibility by staff in the FWS regional office and a high level of trust and cooperation among the relevant CERP agencies (Bean, 2006; Burnham et al., 2006; Swain, 2006). Meaningful stakeholder engagement will also be essential, as difficult choices and compromises will inevitably have to be negotiated. The recent revised critical habitat designation for the Cape Sable seaside sparrow (USFWS, 2007) shows that the FWS and other parties can and are willing to make such difficult decisions, in this case trading off possible

OCR for page 71
Project Planning and Implementation 101 increased risk for sparrow subpopulation A (see Figure 2-15) to improve restora- tion prospects for several other species including wood storks and snail kites. Problems Created by the Next Added Increment Requirement Elements of the complex CERP project planning process are contributing to delays in restoration progress. Presentations to this committee identified key pro- cedural problems, some characterized as “self-inflicted wounds,” contributing to this protracted process. One particular concern is the absence of a systematic approach to analyze the costs and benefits across multiple projects in support of project planning. Fundamentally, the CERP is designed as a system of related projects (i.e., components) that work together in the aggregate to produce overall restoration benefits. Without a system-wide planning process, it is not clear how system benefits can be optimized for any one project without any systematic con- sideration of other projects. The next added increment (NAI) is a notable example of the lack of system-wide considerations in the CERP planning process. In the Programmatic Regulations (see 33 CFR 385.1; 385.26(b)(3)), the NAI is defined as the evaluation of an alternative as the next project to be added to a system of projects already implemented. For the purposes of this part, this means analyz- ing an alternative as the next project to be added to a system of projects that includes only those projects that have been approved according to general pro- vision of law or specific authorization of Congress and are likely to have been implemented by the time the project being evaluated is completed. The primary objective of the NAI evaluation criteria is to ascertain whether suf- ficient ecosystem restoration benefits could be attributable to a specific project to justify the cost, if no additional CERP projects (other than those already exist- ing or authorized) were built. The NAI analysis also illuminates the dependence of other CERP projects on the project under evaluation (USACE and SFWMD, 2007a). The NAI analysis does meet these objectives, but as currently imple- mented, it undermines system-wide CERP planning, including the capacity to implement a project-sequencing plan. Difficulties arise with the NAI because the CERP consists of roughly 50 inter- related projects, and some sequencing constraints require the implementation of particular projects prior to other projects (e.g., increased water storage needs to be in place to support removal of barriers to flow). Analyzing these projects individually, based on the NAI, appears to minimize the benefits predicted to arise from these early CERP projects, because the benefits that derive from link- ages between the proposed project and future, as yet unauthorized projects are

OCR for page 71
102 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades not considered in the benefits analysis. Additionally, this benefits quantification approach requires the effects of a single project to be calculated on a system- wide basis, although the Everglades system covers in excess of 16,000 square miles, an area nearly twice the size of New Jersey. In Guidance Memorandum #2 (USACE and SFWMD, 2007a), project teams are advised to avoid this problem by “combining the tentatively selected plan with other CERP components to identify an alternative that can be justified on a NAI basis or to consider delaying the implementation of the tentatively selected plan…” However, project teams have avoided combining interrelated CERP components into a single PIR because there is a perception that Congress and/or the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is unwilling to authorize PIRs that include more than a billion dollars in projects. As a result, the reduced benefits predicted for individual projects by NAI methodology hinder specific project approval by the USACE and submission to Congress for authorization and subsequent funding. For multicomponent large-scale restoration programs authorized on a project-by-project basis, the NAI methodology appears designed to fail unless Congress and OMB express willingness to approve larger, inter- related suites of projects. The EAA storage reservoir project, Phase 1 (A-1), provides an example of the difficulties created by the NAI. There is wide recognition that additional water storage can make contributions to Everglades restoration and to the reduction of adverse impacts of lake water releases into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries. Nevertheless, the project is entangled in evaluation methodology and project approval procedures that are contributing to delays in the project’s approval and authorization. Not surprisingly, consideration of Phase 1 (A-1) of the EAA reservoir project (190,000 acre-feet of storage) in isolation, consistent with the NAI approach, is making it difficult to demonstrate sufficient benefits for it to go forward. Downstream benefits of the EAA reservoir to the WCAs and Everglades National Park contingent upon the Decomp project cannot be considered because that project is not yet authorized. Also, the EAA reservoir itself only adds 3 percent to Everglades-wide storage capacity; thus, it is difficult to demonstrate that—on its own—it makes an appreciable beneficial contribu- tion to restoration on an Everglades system scale. Meanwhile, benefits analyses are hindered by limitations in the models themselves. For instance, the South Florida Water Management Model has embedded within it operational rules that distribute water between the environment and agricultural purposes in ways that cannot easily be adjusted, and the model output appears to emphasize water supply and flood control rather than restoration, even though decisions have not been made regarding formal water allocations for the natural system. This mix of procedural requirements, operational considerations, and statu-

OCR for page 71
Project Planning and Implementation 103 tory directives, when applied to the EAA storage reservoir project, yields evalua- tions predicting less-than-expected and relatively small benefits to the Everglades ecosystem. These results are at odds with the conclusions of an array of experts and observers that are persuaded that additional water storage is a necessary and critical component of the restoration effort. The CERP project planning and approval process, especially NAI, fails to recognize that CERP’s purpose is to restore an ecosystem rather than build a particular project. The CERP is designed as a suite of interacting projects or components to provide an aggregated set of ecological benefits, and there appears to be a fundamental tension between this objective and the isolated nature of the project approval and authoriza- tion process, of which the NAI methodology is just one component. As CERP planners embrace the concept of IAR, more CERP projects may be constructed incrementally, which may lead to additional project approval problems if the issue of NAI is not addressed. Furthermore, NAI is symptomatic of difficulties arising from trying to retrofit traditional USACE project- and engineering-oriented processes on a large-scale ecological restoration program. An opportunity does exist to correct this problem. The Programmatic Regu- lations, promulgated in 2003, are slated to undergo a 5-year review in 2008. Following review, USACE may propose revisions to the Programmatic Regula- tions that facilitate improved project planning and evaluation as part of an overall integrated ecological restoration program. In Chapter 2, the committee concluded that ongoing restoration delays have contributed to ecological decline in the Everglades and that major restoration efforts are needed to strengthen the resiliency of its ecosystems to help avoid irreversible losses. Yet, the current planning mechanisms, including NAI, do not help resolve the central questions that affect system-wide prioritization and the delivery of restoration benefits. Given the limited funding environment and the lack of certainty that the CERP will be fully constructed, what are the best opportunities for restoration that will produce the most near-term ecological benefits? Effective mechanisms for alternatives evaluation and project prioritiza- tion and sequencing are essential to CERP planning, and CERP planners should develop mechanisms to improve system-wide planning and decision making for the CERP. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The CERP is one of the most ambitious, detailed, and comprehensive blue- prints for managing an integrated built and natural environment ever planned, and the attempt to restore an ecosystem as large and complex as the Everglades is an unprecedented challenge. Despite programmatic accomplishments and the

OCR for page 71
104 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades beginning of construction for some projects identified in the CERP, natural system restoration has been delayed. The South Florida ecosystem continues to suffer as a result of a complex and sometimes contentious planning process, funding uncertainties, lack of clear restoration priorities that are central to restoration, and statutory and regulatory impediments such as the Endangered Species Act and next added increment rules. It is too early to evaluate the response of the ecosystem to CERP projects because none have been completed. Construction completion for the first CERP components has not been achieved through mid-2008, and key foundational pre-CERP projects, such as Mod Waters, remain far behind schedule. Further- more, the natural system in South Florida continues to decline. If limited natural system restoration progress continues, frustration will further increase among stakeholders and agency staff, and public support for restoration is likely to diminish. Actual construction and implementation of key non-CERP and CERP projects are the only means to arrest the degradation and assure that natural system restoration begins. State efforts to construct projects in spite of funding limitations and other serious obstacles to progress are commendable. Some partial benefits have been produced from phased construction in the Picayune Strand Restoration (wetland restoration) and Acme Basin B (stormwater treat- ment) projects. Additionally, several non-CERP activities are positive harbingers of future CERP programs and indicate that when project implementation does occur, bona fide ecological restoration benefits will be demonstrated. For exam- ple, the success of the Kissimmee River Restoration effort continues to be the most important piece of evidence that restoration of a natural system is possible in the Everglades region. The state of Florida should continue its active land acquisition efforts, accompanied by monitoring of and regular reporting on land conversion pat- terns 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, including the announcement to enter into negotiations for the potential purchase of 187,000 acres of land in the EAA for $1.75 billion. The acquisition of this large amount of land has the potential to alter basic CERP plans, but because of the structure of the purchase and the possibility of numerous land exchanges made after the purchase, direct effects of the deal may not be seen for a decade or more. The complex project planning and approval process has been a major cause of delays for CERP projects to date. The greatest challenge in the project

OCR for page 71
Project Planning and Implementation 105 planning process has been developing technically sound project plans that are acceptable to the many agencies and stakeholders involved. The process of resolving disagreements among agencies and stakeholders has led to lengthy delays in the development of some PIRs that can be submitted to Congress for authorization. The infrequent and unpredictable federal authorization mecha- nism for CERP projects has caused some additional problems and attendant delays. The committee judges that the lack of federal funding in the first 8 years of the CERP is not the most serious cause of the CERP delays. Instead the slow pace of federal funding has largely been a symptom of the problems caused by the complex and lengthy CERP planning and authorization process for each project. However, now that three CERP projects have been approved for their PIRs and congressional authorization, funding limitations will certainly create additional constraints to CERP progress in the years ahead. Non-CERP and CERP projects will increasingly compete for limited state and federal funding, while project costs increase due to inflationary pressures and scope changes. Both state and federal partners are facing budget constraints, and dramatic state budget cuts in FY 2009 will affect the speed of restoration progress. Deficiencies in CERP system-wide planning are affecting future natural system restoration benefits. The CERP lacks a systematic approach to analyze the costs and benefits across multiple projects in support of project planning. Fundamentally, the CERP is designed as a system of related projects (i.e., compo- nents) that work together in the aggregate to produce overall restoration benefits. Without a system-wide planning process, it is not clear how system benefits can be optimized for any one project without any systematic consideration of other projects. The next added increment is a benefits evaluation method that considers benefits only from the proposed and previously authorized projects, and as currently implemented in the Everglades, it undermines system-wide resto- ration planning and sequencing. The current planning process also appears to reward the least-contentious projects, regardless of their potential contribution to ecosystem restoration. Without clear priorities for project planning and fund- ing, projects with large potential restoration benefits may see lengthy restoration delays while other, less-contentious projects that address only isolated portions of the ecosystem may tie up available funding. During the 5-year review of the Programmatic Regulations, the USACE should address deficiencies and impedi- ments in the CERP planning process that are affecting restoration progress. CERP planners should also develop mechanisms to improve system-wide planning and decision making for the CERP. Developing a realistic schedule and sound project sequence is a critical need for the restoration effort. In this time of increasing fiscal pressures, it is critical that CERP planners find a means to prioritize and properly sequence

OCR for page 71
106 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades restoration projects so that public funds are allocated by the degree to which the projects are essential to restoration of the South Florida ecosystem, rather than by local stakeholder support or the order of authorization. Public Web-based reporting on project progress, delays, and anticipated completion dates should be more transparent than is currently the case. The executive and legislative branches of the federal government should consider departing from traditional project-by-project review, authorization, and yearly funding to benefit both the CERP and other multicomponent eco- system restoration projects across the nation. It may be far more efficacious— scientifically, managerially, and economically—to design a different approach for comprehensive restoration programs that provides assured funding over a multiple-year period. The incremental adaptive restoration (IAR) concept proposed in NRC (2007) has stimulated creative restoration approaches to Everglades restoration but has not yet been fully applied. The prior committee’s recommendation to apply IAR has been widely embraced by implementing agencies at all levels of organization as well as by various stakeholders, but an effort to apply IAR to an integrated group of Southern Everglades restoration projects was discontinued. CERP planners, however, are using the IAR concept in planning the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands and C-111 Spreader Canal projects. The most-effective applications of the IAR concept will probably be in the incremental execution of project components that produce significant outcomes but are of a scope and scale that can be feasibly implemented and assessed. Because most desired eco- logical changes are likely to take years or decades to respond to IAR actions, in developing IAR strategies, the emphasis should be placed on assessing variables, such as sediment transport and water quality, that are leading indicators of likely long-term ecological responses. To reduce restoration delays, CERP planners should develop a stronger conceptual basis for multispecies recovery planning and management. Although implementation of the ESA has become focused increasingly on single species management, the statute does provide various mechanisms that can reduce the threat of legitimate litigation and facilitate the recovery and management of multiple-listed species. However, effective multispecies management under the ESA requires a high level of integration of scientific knowledge about indi- vidual species and species interactions to understand risks and trade-offs during construction and under alternative water management regimes. It also requires strong federal leadership and a high level of trust and cooperation among the regulatory and management agencies and other stakeholders to allow for learn- ing, compromise, and decision making under uncertainty. In addition, jeopardy determinations for endangered species and associated

OCR for page 71
Project Planning and Implementation 107 litigation are a significant, unresolved challenge for adaptive management and IAR. There currently is no scientifically credible operational plan for managing multiple species at risk in South Florida. To expedite multispecies restoration under the ESA, DOI should immediately initiate and lead the development of a South Florida multispecies adaptive management strategy, including both science and policy dimensions, to accompany the existing South Florida Multi- species Recovery Plan.

OCR for page 71