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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review - 2010 6 Use of Science in Decision Making A key tenet of the Everglades restoration effort is that reliable scientific information will guide critical engineering and ecosystem management decisions. This principle is written as background for the Programmatic Regulations, the legal document that guides the implementation of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP): “The definition of restoration recognizes implicitly that science will be the foundation of restoration, but it also assumes … that in all phases of implementation of the Plan both restoration and the other goals and purposes of the Plan should be achieved” (33 CFR §385). The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (Senate Report No. 106-362) also wrote: “The Committee expects that the agencies responsible for project implementation report formulation and Plan implementation will seek continuous improvement of the Plan based on new information, improved modeling, new technology and changed circumstances.” Given the enormous scope and complexity of the restoration effort, the success of the CERP depends on strategic, high-quality, responsive, and sustained science and an effective, adaptive management framework. In this chapter, the committee reviews scientific support for Everglades restoration from several perspectives. This chapter builds upon prior reviews of this topic by the National Research Council (NRC, 2007, 2008). First, the progress on the implementation of an adaptive management program is discussed, and remaining challenges are identified. Next, recent progress in the monitoring and assessment program and related reports are reviewed. The role of research to help resolve critical uncertainties is then described, focusing on examples of climate change science and the role of flow to support essential characteristics of the ridge and slough system. The committee then evaluates the effectiveness of current modeling tools. Finally, recent tools for assessing ecosystem services are reviewed for their potential value to restoration decision making.
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review - 2010 ADAPTIVE MANAGEMENT Adaptive management is “a structured management approach that links science to decision-making in order to improve the probability of restoration success” (RECOVER, 2010a). In recognition of the many uncertainties inherent in restoring the Everglades, adaptive management has always been a fundamental premise of CERP planning and implementation. Use of an adaptive management approach was authorized by the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 (WRDA 2000), and development of a CERP Adaptive Management Program was required in the 2003 Programmatic Regulations. Instituting CERP adaptive management has largely been the purview of the RECOVER Program (Box 2-3). As described in previous NRC reports (NRC, 2003c, 2007, 2008), development of an adaptive management framework has been an important CERP accomplishment comprising many interrelated activities. Products include programmatic documents describing the adaptive management process and all aspects of performance assessment, including a monitoring and assessment program (RECOVER, 2004, 2005a,b, 2006a,c,d, 2007b, 2009, 2010a); conceptual ecological models to support monitoring and assessment (e.g., Ogden et al., 2005); an information and data management system along with the Interagency Modeling Center to support assessment and planning aspects of decision making; and a system status reporting process that establishes a baseline for long-term perspective of restoration impacts and effectiveness (RECOVER, 2006b, 2007c, 2010b). Now that the foundations of the CERP adaptive management framework are largely in place, RECOVER has focused on producing guidance to ensure effective functioning of the adaptive management process. A Draft Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan Adaptive Management Integration Guide (RECOVER, 2010a) has been through several iterations and was recently made available for public comment. As laid out in that document, the elements of adaptive management reside in a series of “activities” (Figure 6-1) that promote learning and adjustment as the ecosystem responds to restoration practices. Previous NRC reports (NRC, 2007, 2008) provide detailed evaluations of adaptive management activities such as restoration goals (Activity 2), uncertainties (Activity 3), conceptual models and performance measures (Activity 4), and monitoring and assessment (Activities 6 and 7). In this section, the committee evaluates recent progress and challenges in implementing other CERP adaptive management activities, focusing in particular on stakeholder engagement and interagency collaboration, integration of adaptive management principles into alternative development and implementation, feedback to decision making, and adjustment (Activities 1, 5, 8, and 9 in Figure 6-1).
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review - 2010 FIGURE 6-1 Nine activities to integrate adaptive management into the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. SOURCE: RECOVER (2010a).
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review - 2010 Activity 1: Stakeholder Engagement and Interagency Collaboration. Stakeholder processes are particularly challenging in a program of such broad scope and duration as the CERP; interested parties span the full range of jurisdictions from local to federal agencies and tribal governments, and social scales span local residents to national interest groups. As discussed in RECOVER (2010a), CERP engagement with stakeholders runs the gamut from simply providing information to consultation to collaboration. A successful stakeholder process should appropriately match the level of engagement to each interested party and provide adequate resources to maintain that process as long as needed. The 66 signatories to the CERP conceptual plan and CERP authorization in WRDA 2000 are testimony to initial broad public and agency support for Everglades restoration. Since that time stakeholder conflicts and agency delays have led to repeated project delays and cost overruns that have threatened to bring meaningful restoration to a standstill (NRC, 2007, 2008). Although stakeholder conflicts are inevitable in a project with as many affected parties as the CERP, the pattern is symptomatic to some extent of inadequate or inappropriate engagement with tribal nations and public stakeholders. RECOVER staff have also identified non-agency stakeholder engagement and collaboration as a particular challenge in implementing adaptive management for the CERP (LoSchiavo, 2009). In particular, the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA; 5 U.S.C. Appendix 2) restricts the ways in which CERP planners can interact with non-agency stakeholders. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) CERP staff have been advised by legal counsel that collaboration with non-agency stakeholders, defined as a two-way dialogue and working together to define and solve problems, is not permitted under FACA in CERP meetings convened by a federal entity. Instead, such collaboration is only permitted through meetings convened by non-federal entities or a group established under a FACA exemption, such as the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force (RECOVER, 2010a). Thus, it appears that strict interpretation of FACA, which was originally intended to ensure that advice delivered to the government is objective and accessible to the public, may be hindering a more inclusive planning processes and improved stakeholder involvement. A recent NRC report on public participation in environmental assessment and decision making concluded that when done well, public stakeholder participation can improve the quality and credibility of decisions and the capacity of all involved in the policy process; but the study also found that when poorly done, participatory processes can make matters worse (NRC, 2008). This report recommended a “best-process” regime that includes monitoring of stakeholder processes to gauge effectiveness and adoption of alternative tools and techniques as warranted.
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review - 2010 Ironically, there is no learning component to the stakeholder engagement guidelines in the CERP Adaptive Management Implementation Guide and there is no evidence that the CERP Outreach Program responsible for stakeholder engagement has undertaken any formal self-assessment since publication of the CERP Outreach Management Plan in 2001. As a result, it is not possible to rigorously evaluate whether CERP public participation processes are making things better or worse, whether they are adequately resourced, or how they could be improved. The USACE and SFWMD should formally evaluate CERP public participation processes, compare them to other models (for example the USACE’s Shared Vision Planning process), strengthen public outreach and public participation efforts, and implement a process of effectiveness monitoring and iterative improvement. Interagency coordination of CERP science and adaptive management occurs at many levels. RECOVER includes representatives from seven federal agencies, the Miccosukee and Seminole tribes, and three state agencies. The CERP monitoring and assessment program (MAP) comprises at least 36 monitoring components involving 25 different entities. The effectiveness of and continuing improvement to the MAP (discussed in more detail later in the chapter) is evidence that scientific research, monitoring, and assessment are being relatively well coordinated. However, as the CERP moves from planning to project construction, differences have become evident both within and among agencies in how they define and apply adaptive management (LoSchiavo, 2009). For example, some CERP scientists have expressed concern that USACE engineers may not adequately value learning when considering benefits and costs of alternative project designs. This is evident in the USACE Implementation Guidance Memorandum for Ecosystem Restoration (August 31, 2009), which equated an “Adaptive Management Plan” with a “Contingency Plan” and indicated that the sole purpose of monitoring is to inform whether a project is performing adequately or not and whether modifications are needed to attain project benefits. This would seem to exclude any consideration of learning benefits to future projects obtained through well-designed adaptive management. Given the differences in agency missions, technical strengths, and approaches to restoration, disagreements can emerge in how uncertainties are prioritized or the appropriate scope of adaptive management both at project and programmatic levels. Although not unexpected, these disagreements ultimately impact project design and monitoring and assessment activities. For this reason, the CERP Adaptive Management Integration Guidance document represents an important step toward developing more consistency in how adaptive management is defined and applied during CERP program and project implementation to achieve restoration and learning benefits.
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review - 2010 Activity 5: Integrating Adaptive Management Principles into Alternative Plan Design and Implementation As represented in Figure 6-1, incorporating CERP adaptive management to alternative plan design and implementation continues even as other activities such as monitoring, assessment, feedback to decision making, and adjustment occur. In initial CERP projects, adaptive management has been integrated to varying degrees into evaluation of project alternatives and ultimate project design and operation. In the case of Picayune Strand, a monitoring and assessment program is in place to evaluate project effectiveness but only loosely linked to adaptive management in terms of stated uncertainties, hypotheses, or measures of restoration performance (USACE, 2004). The Indian River Lagoon Project includes an extensive Adaptive Assessment and Monitoring Program for monitoring ecological and water quality responses, but the documents imply that the intent is mainly to assess project effectiveness, and they make no mention of specific ecological uncertainties or hypotheses to be examined, nor how the information would inform adaptive management (USACE, 2004). The Draft Project Implementation Report (PIR) for the C-111 Spreader Canal, Western Project discusses adaptive management and incorporates elements of adaptive management into the monitoring plan and project operating manual, but it provides little guidance on which key scientific uncertainties should be addressed through monitoring and adaptive management (USACE and SFWMD, 2009a). In contrast, the recently completed Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands Phase 1 Draft Integrated PIR/EIS includes a separate adaptive management plan that presents key uncertainties, management alternatives and associated costs, and hypothesis-based assessment protocols tied to specific performance measures (USACE and SFWMD, 2010a). Consistent with the notion of Incremental Adaptive Restoration (NRC, 2007), the document describes opportunities for knowledge gained in Phase 1 to be incorporated into the design of Phase 2. In the committee’s view this last example comes closest to the intent of Activity 5 as envisioned in the CERP Adaptive Management Guidance Manual. Whereas typical CERP project monitoring plans only include activities not under the auspices of the MAP, which can create challenges when integrating project-level and systemwide monitoring information (Heisler and Ehlinger, 2009), the ecological monitoring plan for Biscayne Bay has been more deliberately coordinated with the MAP and will use MAP performance measures, results, and protocols whenever possible. This has led to consideration of systemwide as well as project-level performance measures and stronger programmatic ties between RECOVER’s applied science efforts and project-level management (LoSchiavo, 2009).
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review - 2010 Activities 8 and 9: Feedback to Decision Making and Adjustment During the past decade the baseline of information and scientific understanding has expanded significantly, although major uncertainties persist regarding how the ecosystem will respond to partially restored hydrologic regimes. As projects come online, effective feedback of knowledge gained though adaptive assessment is essential to inform management and policy decisions and ultimately guide necessary adjustments to restoration goals and objectives. With the exception of the short-duration Decomp Physical Model and the C-111 Spreader Canal design test, the pre-CERP and CERP projects now being implemented are not active adaptive management experiments. Instead, CERP projects primarily apply passive adaptive management, where project outcomes are monitored and evaluated, and subsequent decisions regarding project operations or the design of subsequent projects are adjusted based on an improved understanding. A critical question then is whether feedback and adjustment are possible under the current governance structure. The current structure for scientific feedback to decision making is shown in Figure 6-2. Scientists report assessment results to the Design Coordination Team (DCT), which includes representatives from the USACE, South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), and Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). The DCT consults with ad hoc teams, tribal nations, and agency partners and recommends management options and actions to the Quality Review Board (QRB),1 a group of senior decision makers from participating CERP agencies, and to the Joint Project Review Board (JPRB), which comprises senior managers from the USACE and SFWMD. Following agency and public review, decisions and adjustments are made by senior leadership in the USACE and SFWMD. In their critique of Everglades adaptive management and governance, Gunderson and Light (2006) argue that both scientists and decision makers have been unwilling or unable to practice adaptive management because they are caught in a management trap “maintained by considerable infusions of money, which are tied to the conventional bureaucratic system. This system is governed by rules and procedures that are no longer fitting and appropriate to accomplish a highly complex and multi-objective mission. The result is that for the sake of consistency, Everglades restoration remains in a policy straitjacket” (Gunderson and Light, 2006). They characterize Everglades governance as fundamentally a top-down, command-and-control structure that has never seriously confronted 1 The Quality Review Board is a group of senior CERP agency managers that was formed by USACE and SFWMD leadership as a means to resolve issues across agencies, improve collaboration, and provide common direction to CERP staff. The QRB is not a decision-making body, although QRB participants include most senior CERP decision makers.
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review - 2010 FIGURE 6-2 Simplified schematic of the current governance structure for scientific feedback to decision making in CERP. SOURCE: USACE (2010a). uncertainty or embraced learning through scientific management experiments. Such a governance regime, they argue, cannot be relied on to accept feedback and make appropriate course corrections. Therefore, the committee explored whether such statements hold true today. This committee encountered strongly contrasting opinions regarding the capacity for scientific feedback to influence management and policy decisions in the current system. Some individuals complained that RECOVER has been marginalized in decision making and relegated to a passive reporting role rather than participating directly in programmatic review or decisions. Former Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior Lynn Scarlett observed adaptive management should be a joint enterprise between scientists and managers but that “there is no formal governance process or joint fact-finding process through which decision makers and scientists regularly collaborate and converse to shape the science agenda, discuss scientific results, and adapt and adjust practices based on those results” (Scarlett, 2010). On the other hand, senior managers
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review - 2010 in the USACE, Department of Interior (DOI), and SFWMD maintained that CERP leadership has been receptive to new scientific guidance, pointing to examples like the collaboration between scientists and managers in developing an increased understanding of and accounting for the importance of sheet flow in restoring the ridge and slough system (discussed in detail later in this chapter) and the involvement of scientists in providing biweekly input to decision makers about ways to optimize operations of the water management system in Water Conservation Area (WCA)-3 (see also Chapter 4). The committee has not tried to evaluate the degree to which recent management decisions have incorporated scientific information, but the effectiveness of the linkage between science and decision making is clearly an issue that should be examined by CERP leadership. Some restoration scientists suggested that the potential for scientific feedback would be increased by adding senior scientists to the Quality Review Board or by appointing senior scientists to the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, either in voting or non-voting roles. Other alternative models proposed having independent (non-agency) scientific experts on RECOVER or perhaps an independent “chief scientist” as a way of increasing the credibility of scientists in policy and decision processes. This committee does not have the resources or the expertise to systematically evaluate the current institutional structure or to recommend a preferred structure for ensuring effective feedback of scientific learning to management and policy decision making in the CERP. Instead, some effective strategies for incorporating science into decision making are discussed in the next section. The predecessors of this committee have generally evaluated CERP science activities favorably, and as is discussed in more detail later in this chapter (see Advances in Research), this committee agrees. Predecessor committees also have emphasized the importance of linkages between science and assessment functions and decision making as a basis for adaptive management (e.g., NRC, 2003b, 2007). As discussed previously, some have suggested that these linkages could be improved by including scientists on key advisory or decision-making bodies. This is not without its drawbacks: there is some concern that scientists’ credibility can suffer if they take positions of advocacy or are involved in decision making (e.g., Policansky, 1998a; Lach et al., 2003). However, some have argued that times are different now and that scientists have to undertake new roles and activities to be effective (e.g., Boesch, 1999, 2006; Lach et al., 2003). Thus, the question arises as to how best to involve scientists in decisions without affecting their credibility as scientists. The consensus of most of the above authors seems to be that mechanisms need to be developed that provide clear communication of the science (Lach et al., 2003; Boesch, 2006). First, scientists need to be willing and able to effectively communicate their decision-relevant findings to managers and decision
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review - 2010 makers. Mechanisms are needed for involving scientists in management and policy decisions without compromising their scientific integrity and without trying to make scientists out of policy makers and managers or making policy makers out of scientists (Guston, 2001; Lach et al., 2003; Boesch, 2006; Boissin, 2009). Also, clearer expression of scientific judgments and policy goals as separate but critically important aspects of environmental decision making is needed (Policansky, 1998b). As restoration projects begin to register effects on the ecosystem, the efficacy of scientific feedback to decision making will be tested with increasing frequency. Issues such as lines of reporting and communication, resolution of scientific disagreements, stakeholder engagement, and decision authority will need to be clarified. CERP personnel are currently considering these questions, as evidenced by the March 2010 workshop, “Incorporating New Information into Decision Making.” In doing so, the committee encourages the strong linkage of scientific information to policy and management considerations such that scientific judgments are clearly communicated and distinguished from identified policy goals. In other words, the committee is encouraging the development of scientific information that is relevant to policy and management considerations and the development of mechanisms to incorporate that information into policy and management decision making, while maintaining the distinction between scientific conclusions and policy and management decisions. The committee also recommends greater clarity and transparency on the part of the CERP in developing, identifying, strengthening, and describing mechanisms for integrating science into policy, management, and implementation decisions for CERP. In the committee’s judgment, such clarity would benefit the participants in the decision-making process as well as stakeholders and other interested parties. MONITORING AND ASSESSMENT PLAN The CERP Monitoring and Assessment Plan (MAP) is a critical component of adaptive management (see Activities 4, 6, and 7 in Figure 6-1). The MAP has as its goal the development of a single, integrated and systemwide plan to be used by RECOVER and CERP agencies for holistically determining the state of the Everglades ecosystem during the restoration. The plan provides guidance to establish pre-CERP reference conditions including metrics of natural variability, assess the systemwide response to CERP implementation, and detect unexpected responses of the system. This information forms the basis for adaptive management, by providing the necessary feedback to managers to allow additional CERP refinement as the ecosystem moves toward the desired goals. The committee’s last two reports (NRC, 2007, 2008) included detailed discussions on the major components of the MAP (RECOVER, 2004, 2005b, 2006d, 2007b, 2009), and
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review - 2010 this section is focused on the MAP developments since NRC (2008) was released: MAP 2009 and the stoplight indicators. The 2010 System Status Report is also discussed briefly, although the report was released too late for a thorough review by the committee. MAP 2009 The recent revision of the CERP MAP, Part I (RECOVER, 2009; also called MAP 2009) expands and updates RECOVER (2004; hereafter called MAP 2004) to respond to refinements in the hypotheses, allow better coordination with adaptive management, incorporate project-level monitoring, and address changing priorities. Figure 6-3 illustrates the many activities and reports that occurred after 2004 that influenced the changes seen in MAP 2009. MAP 2009 reflects changes to the science strategy of CERP since 2004 and a much broader scope for the monitoring and assessment program. The conceptual ecosystem models (CEMs) have been further refined and combined into hypothesis clusters. These hypothesis clusters integrate stressor-response relationships and better reflect the complex functional relationships between the FIGURE 6-3 Factors influencing the development of MAP 2009. SOURCE: RECOVER (2009).
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review - 2010 with all CERP planning efforts, FACA limits participation in this effort to staff or consultants of RECOVER agencies, except through the public comment process. The document was released in draft for public comment in the spring of 2010 and will continue to be revised during the remainder of the year, after a series of public workshops. The report was not released in time for in-depth review by the committee. RECOVER anticipates that the report will serve as a basis for addressing key dilemmas in Everglades restoration and for updating the restoration goals, targets, and performance measures. Second, the National Park Service’s Critical Ecosystem Studies Initiative (CESI; see also NRC, 2003b) is funding a synthesis of science on the freshwater Everglades ecosystem, focused on key restoration science questions with relevance to restoration management. The project, led primarily by academic researchers, will synthesize the recent science around these questions and will outline ecosystem consequences of various restoration options by late 2011. Although there may be some overlap between the two projects, the timing will likely allow the CESI project to build upon the RECOVER report. Both efforts represent important steps toward providing clear scientific guidance to restoration decision makers. Status of Modeling Efforts in Support of Restoration In both of its previous reports (NRC, 2007, 2008) the committee emphasized that integrated hydrologic, ecological, and biogeochemistry modeling tools are needed for science to play a fully developed role in CERP decision making and ecosystem management. Despite the considerable uncertainties associated with models of a system as large and complex as the Everglades, spatially explicit models are critically important for integrating available information and for examining implications of alternative restoration designs. Unfortunately, resource limitations have hampered progress in this area. Hydrologic modeling continues to be the focus of CERP model development efforts and, therefore, the strongest among the array of modeling tools available. Progress on the Natural System Regional Simulation Model (NSRSM) has been steady. The NSRSM has been successfully peer reviewed and is now being used along with several versions of the Natural System Model (NSM) in the River of Grass regional planning efforts (Table 6-1; see also Box 4-1). Prior versions of the NSM, based on a 2-mile by 2-mile grid, have been criticized for failing to adequately simulate historic hydrologic characteristics determined from paleoecological data. However, both the NSRSM and the National Park Service-funded modifications to the NSM (called ENP mod1) suggest a much wetter system than previously simulated by the NSM and are more consistent with paleoecological data. The general agreement between the two different
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review - 2010 TABLE 6-1 Representative Models Related to CERP Projects Model Name Full Name and Main Function ATLSS Across Trophic Level System Simulation uses topographic data to convert the 2 × 2 mile landscape of the regional hydrologic models to a 500 × 500 m landscape, to which various ecological models are applied. These range from highly para meterized, mechanistic individual-based models (e.g., EVERKITE, SIMSPAR) to simpler, Habitat Suitability Index (HSI)-type models (SESI, Spatially-Explicit Species Index). ELM Everglades Landscape Model is designed to predict the landscape response to different water management scenarios. ELM consists of a set of integrated modules to understand ecosystem dynamics at a regional scale and simulates the biogeochemical processes associated with hydrology, nutrients, soil formation, and vegetation succession. Its main components include hydrology, water quality, soils, periphyton, and vegetation. NSM The Natural Systems Model simulates hydro-patterns before canals, levees, dikes, and pumps were built. The NSM mimics frequency, duration, depth, and spatial extent of water inundation under pre-management (i.e., natural) hydrologic conditions. In many cases, those pre-management water levels are used as a target for hydrologic restoration assuming that restoration of the hydrologic response that existed prior to drainage of the system would lead to restoration of natural habitats and biota. RSM The Regional Simulation Model is a regional hydrologic model developed principally for application in south Florida. It is a finite-volume-based model capable of simulating multi-dimensional and fully integrated groundwater and surface-water flow. It incorporates two separate simulation engines—the Hydrologic Simulation Engine (HSE) and the Management Simulation Engine (MSE) for water management features to help simplify simulations of proposed operational changes. RSMWQ The RSMWQ is a linked-library model that can be selected to run with the RSM. There are two components to simulate water quality; the first is for transport of mobile materials, both soluble and dissolved, and the second is a flexible biogeochemistry module that allows the model user to define the state variables and process equations in the input files. SFWMM The South Florida Water Management Model simulates hydrology and water systems and is widely accepted as the best available tool for analyzing structural and/or operational changes to the complex water management system in South Florida at the regional scale. NSRSM The Natural System Regional Simulation Model, like its predecessor the NSM, simulates the natural system hydrology of South Florida. The use of refined input parameters in combination with the model’s improved hydrologic simulation engine result in simulations that reasonably represent pre-drainage (mid-1800) hydrology within an estimated range of performance documented in the best available information sources. NOTE: The list is not intended to be comprehensive. Numerous other models describe water circulation, water quality, and aspects of system ecology, especially in the estuaries and Lake Okeechobee.
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review - 2010 Example Applications Scale (Spatial Extent; Resolution) Status Developers/Sources Evaluating effects of hydrologic scenarios on biota (habitat and populations of a suite of species) Regional; 500 × 500 m Primarily used for research purposes, not for planning or management activities within CERP http://www.atlss.org/ Support in project planning and ecological research Regional; 100, 200, 500 m resolution Version 2.5 SFWMD Fitz and Trimble (2006) Planning tool for comparing management consequences Regional; 2 × 2 mile Version 4.6.2 SFWMD http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/pg_grp_sfwmd_hesm/pg_sfwmd_hesm_nsm?navpage=nsm Regional long-term (decades) simulation of complex hydrology with management (e.g., southwest Florida) Regional; Variable grid sizes ranging from 0.1-2 miles Still under development; Part 1 Peer Review is complete SFWMD (2005a) Planning tool for addressing the transport and transformations of chemicals at the regional and subregional scale Regional; Same as RSM Still under development SFWMD, Jawitz et al. (2008) Regional modeling for EAA Storage Reservoir CERP Project Regional; 2 × 2 miles square grid Version 5.5 SFWMD (2005b) Planning tool for comparing management consequences Regional; Variable grid sizes ranging from 0.1-2 miles Version 3.0 SFWMD https://my.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/pg_grp_sfwmd_hesm/portlet_rsm_peerreview/tab2564291/nsrsm_pr_goals_web.pdf
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review - 2010 models has strengthened the degree of confidence in the most recent models among scientists and planners. The South Florida Regional Simulation Model (RSM), still under development, is ultimately intended to replace the South Florida Water Management Model (SFWMM or the “2 × 2”). The RSM includes variable grid sizes ranging from 0.1 to 2 miles on a side, making the model more useful at scales relevant to many ecological parameters. The RSM incorporates two separate simulation engines—the Hydrologic Simulation Engine (HSE) for hydrology and the Management Simulation Engine (MSE) for water management features—which should simplify simulations of proposed operational changes (see NRC, 2008). The RSM has been used successfully on subregional scale projects (e.g., Decomp, C-111, the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands projects), and a link-node version of the RSM, called RSM-Basins has been used in the northern Everglades and is being extended down to the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA). South of the EAA, a full-mesh version of the RSM has been applied for the Everglades and the lower east coast service area (called the Glades-LECSA model). However, technical issues have prevented the RSM from being applied at the systemwide scale. These issues include problems with convergence between the HSE and MSE, issues with the diffusive wave formulation in steeper areas, and problems in areas where wetting and drying of the land surface occurs. Thus at this time the SFWMM remains the preferred model for regional simulations and is currently being recalibrated with precipitation data through 2005. Although there remains a long-term goal of including biogeochemical processes within the RSM, little progress has been made toward integrating biogeochemical or sediment transport models with systemwide hydrologic models. A water quality engine for RSM (RSMWQ) was developed by a group from the University of Florida and applied to simulate phosphorus dynamics in WCA-2A. However, continued development of the RSMWQ has been put on hold because of the River of Grass initiative and other modeling priorities, and no integrated regional hydrologic-biogeochemical modeling is being attempted. To date the RSMWQ has not been used by CERP decision makers. Of additional concern is the apparent step backwards that integrated hydrologic-ecological modeling has taken in CERP planning. The continued development and evaluation of both the Everglades Landscape Model (ELM) and Across Trophic Level System Simulation (ATLSS) model are now undertaken by scientists completely outside of the SFWMD, DOI, USACE, and Interagency Modeling Center (IMC). Both models are now used primarily for research purposes, not for planning or management activities within the CERP. Apparent difficulties in transferring a documented and operational version of ATLSS to the IMC has led to the proposed abandonment of ATLSS as a CERP modeling tool and the proposed development of a new ecological modeling platform by
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review - 2010 Everglades National Park. This is a major set-back given the historical investment of resources in the development of ATLSS, the effort required to develop a new modeling platform, and the limited resources available to support the overall CERP modeling effort at the current time. There remains a long-term goal at the SFWMD of incorporating ecological monitoring into the RSM, but this effort is on hold, again due to other modeling priorities. As a result, major CERP efforts such as Decomp and Mod Waters are proceeding without the benefit of integrated hydrologic-water-quality-ecological modeling. As discussed in Chapter 4, improved species-specific modeling tools and multi-species decision analysis tools are also needed to provide more rigorous scientific support for multispecies management options and to understand water management tradeoffs. In summary, it appears that little progress has been made toward integrated hydrologic, ecological, water quality, and socioeconomic modeling for the CERP in the past five years. SFWMD modelers have been focused on subregional and regional hydrologic modeling efforts, with relatively minor efforts underway to incorporate either water quality or ecologic processes into the RSM. Local-scale modeling of water quality improvement efforts such as stormwater treatment areas (STAs), agricultural best management practices (BMPs), and other ecosystem services provided by private landowners are being conducted by a number of groups, but there are as yet no plans to incorporate these models into regional-scale planning or management. Everglades National Park is undertaking a brand new ecological modeling effort, while independent researchers continue the development and application of ELM and ATLSS. Limited budgetary resources and competition from other modeling efforts (e.g., River of Grass and project-related modeling) appear to be hindering the pace of CERP model development and use in decision making. Lack of investment in the IMC and in model development in general by the federal CERP partners is also hindering progress. As a result near-term prospects of utilizing integrated regional hydrologic-ecological modeling efforts to support CERP design, planning, or management decisions are dim. ECONOMIC VALUATION OF ECOSYSTEM SERVICES FOR EVERGLADES DECISION MAKING The concept of ecosystem services3 (Daily, 1997) has been instrumental in ecology for the past decade or more, leading to recent growing interest in the 3 Ecosystem services are derived from the physical, biological, and chemical processes in natural ecosystems, which together provide “the conditions and processes through which ecosystems, and the species that make them up, sustain and fulfill human life” (Daily, 1997). Ecosystem services include purification of air and water, nutrient cycling, maintenance of biodiversity, protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, flood protection, climate stabilization, and the like.
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review - 2010 economic valuation of these services (e.g., Heal, 2000) and their application to decision making. Groups with interests in Everglades restoration increasingly lobby for inclusion of these values in restoration decisions with the intent of influencing the specific restoration activities to be undertaken. As a result, decision makers responsible for guiding Everglades restoration policy face growing pressure to account for economic values of ecosystem services. A recent NRC report (2005) looked at how economic valuation of ecosystem services could help environmental decision making and concluded that, in general, economic valuation methods are mature and capable of providing useful information in support of improved environmental decision making. However, NRC (2005) also noted that those studies that have the most promise of delivering results that could inform policy decisions are those that focus on the valuation of a single ecosystem service. In more complex examples, knowledge and information may not yet be sufficient to estimate the value of ecosystem services with enough precision to answer policy-relevant questions (NRC, 2005). In this section, the committee provides some background on economic valuation of ecosystem services and then considers to what degree and under what circumstances an effort to estimate the economic value of the ecosystem services provided by the South Florida Ecosystem could inform CERP decision making. Philosophical and Policy Contexts Considerations of the role of “ecosystem values” in environmental policy making arise from two philosophical perspectives, intrinsic and anthropocentric. The intrinsic perspective states that nonhuman species have moral interests or rights unto themselves, and therefore, the values of ecosystems and their services are intrinsic and non-anthropocentric. Anthropocentric approaches, which include economic valuation, are based on the philosophical perspective that values arise from the benefits derived by humans. Note that intrinsic value, which underlies the non-anthropocentric perspective, cannot be captured by economic valuation methods. The Everglades’ status as a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve would be consistent with an argument in support of the ecosystem having intrinsic value, but such a value cannot be monetized by traditional methods and thus cannot be captured in a benefit-cost calculation. Clearly a major factor underlying society’s decision to restore the Everglades was recognition of the importance of the extensive, varied, and valuable ecosystem services provided by this unique ecosystem. In fact, one could argue that these services were so highly valued by society (or difficult to measure) that the decision to restore the Everglades was deemed to be in the public’s interest without typical USACE benefit-cost analyses. Instead, the legal, political, and operational context for Everglades restoration planning is one of cost-effectiveness,
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review - 2010 and no formal cost-benefit calculations are required (WRDA 2000). The costs of various project alternatives and their associated improvements to ecological conditions are estimated during the CERP planning process to insure that a reasonable degree of restoration is achieved for the cost (i.e., cost-effectiveness). Anthropocentric Approaches to Ecosystem Valuation “The fundamental challenge of valuing ecosystem services lies in providing an explicit description and adequate assessment of the links between the structures and functions of natural systems, the benefits (i.e., goods and services) derived by humanity, and their subsequent values” (NRC, 2005). Economic valuation of ecosystem services relies on successful integration of ecology (i.e., quantification of the ecological structure and functioning) and economics (i.e., application of an economic valuation function). Both elements are complex and challenging in their own right, but the greatest challenge is to insure that the definitions of ecosystem goods and services match across the ecological and economic components (NRC, 2005). Where an ecosystem’s goods and services can be specified, it is generally possible to assign a value. However, some ecosystem services cannot be valued either because they cannot be adequately measured or because existing valuation methods are inappropriate or unreliable. Numerous taxonomies can be applied to the types and sources of economic value and economic valuation methods. Economic values can arise from the use of an ecosystem service (use values) or from its existence even in the absence of use (non-use value). Use values in turn can be market (e.g., commercial uses such as timber) or non-market (non-commercial uses such as recreation). Most ecosystems will provide an array of ecosystem services, which will require a variety of valuation methods. There are two fundamental approaches for valuing non-market services: revealed-preference methods and stated-preference methods. Revealed-preference methods4 are applicable to use values and are derived from observed human behavior associated with particular uses of the ecosystem (e.g., recreation). Stated-preference methods are survey-based and have wider potential application than do revealed-preference. Non-use values (i.e., ecological and cultural benefits that arise from the existence of the ecosystem rather than from the use of it), for example, can only be attained by stated-preference approaches. As a result of the Everglades’ status as a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve, many people place great value on the existence of a restored ecosystem, 4 Revealed-preference methods include averting behavior, travel cost, hedonic, dynamic production functions, and general equilibrium modeling of integrated ecological-economic systems. (See NRC  for details.)
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review - 2010 even though they may never visit or benefit directly from flood control or water supply (Polasky, 2008). Unfortunately stated-preference valuations generally have less credibility than revealed-preference approaches and have received considerable criticism, leading to a number of efforts to develop “good practice” guidelines including NOAA guidelines (NOAA, 1993). Benefit transfers and replacement cost and cost of treatment methods have also been used in environmental valuation. Benefit transfer (Boyle and Bergstrom, 1992) is the process of taking an existing value estimate and transferring it to a new location or application that is different from the original one (e.g., applying a per-acre value of a wetland estimated for one site to a second location). Replacement cost and cost of treatment approaches use calculations of the cost of replacing the service or treating the damages arising from the loss of service as a valuation estimate. This approach in not preference-based and is not a measure of economic value. NRC (2005) cautioned that “replacement cost and cost of treatment methods should be used with great caution if at all,” because the conditions for accurate valuation are rarely satisfied in practice. NRC (2005) specifically recommended against the use of benefit transfer approaches for ecosystem services valuation in most aquatic ecosystem applications. The report stated: First, with the exception of a few types of applications (e.g., travel-cost and contingent valuation estimates of sportfishing values), there are not a lot of studies that have investigated values of aquatic ecosystem services. Second, most non-market valuation studies have been undertaken by economists in the abstract from specific information that links the resulting estimates of values to specific changes in aquatic ecosystem services and functions. Finally, studies that have investigated the validity of benefit transfers in valuing ecosystem services have demonstrated that this approach is not highly accurate. Assessment of Economic Valuation of Ecosystem Services in the Everglades Context The nature and complexity of the Everglades ecosystem poses daunting challenges to any comprehensive ecosystem service valuation effort. A decision to undertake the economic valuation of ecosystem services needs to recognize the critical importance of integrating the ecology (i.e., quantification of the ecological production function) and economics (i.e., application of economic valuation function) and allocate appropriate attention and resources to the valuation effort. NRC (2005) identified three major challenges facing ecosystem services valuation in the Everglades: (1) the hydrologic connectivity between many different ecosystems within the Everglades makes quantifying the restoration-based changes in ecosystem services an extremely complex issue; (2) many of the
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review - 2010 important values are linked to existence of species or the existence of the ecosystem itself in something akin to its original condition; these existence values are particularly difficult to value accurately; and (3) aggregation issues can cause problems in comprehensive approaches to ecosystem service valuation, particularly when scaling up the valuation exercise over multiple ecosystems. NRC (2005) concludes that given the hydrologic, ecological, and economic complexities of South Florida, a complete accounting of economic values is unlikely any time in the near future. Performing a thorough and credible economic valuation of the services of the South Florida ecosystem would be an enormous challenge, and would likely take years. And it would be critical to do it well; any such valuation would need to yield robust and defensible results to be politically persuasive. Prerequisites for such an analysis are integrated hydrologic, ecological, and biogeochemical models to predict ecosystem services likely to result from alternative restoration activities; even then, the analysis would require a large effort. NRC (2005) provides appropriate framework and guidance for any such efforts. CERP planners are specifically cautioned against the use of replacement cost and benefit transfer approaches given the complexities of the Everglades ecosystems. In summary, credible economic valuation of ecosystem services for Everglades decision making is currently hindered by the complexity of the ecosystem; gaps in data, modeling tools, and valuation techniques; challenges in accounting for existence values; and the likely time required to overcome these concerns. Therefore, the committee concludes that a comprehensive evaluation of ecosystem services is probably not a high priority for CERP planning in the near or medium term. The committee does support the development of an improved understanding of the ecosystem services provided by the South Florida ecosystem, and restoration planners should look for opportunities where the economic valuation of ecosystem services could be useful and should improve the methods of economic valuation of ecosystem services that have the most promising application to the Everglades restoration. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The CERP has laid the foundations for adaptive management of Everglades restoration and should now put theory into practice. To do so will require stronger institutional mechanisms for obtaining scientific feedback to planning, management, and implementation decisions. Project planning should explicitly provide for adaptive management in the context of both project-specific and systemwide performance monitoring and evaluation. To ensure stronger coupling of engineering design and operations with ecosystem assessment, project monitoring should be well integrated with systemwide monitoring and assessment.
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review - 2010 The effectiveness of the linkages between science and decision making should be examined by CERP leadership. Linking science with policy and management decisions is critically important to achieving restoration goals, but the effectiveness of current mechanisms in providing such linkage has been questioned by some in the restoration community. The committee encourages CERP leadership to examine this issue and to consider mechanisms to improve the communication of relevant scientific findings to decision makers. The committee also recommends greater clarity and transparency in the integration of science into CERP policy and management decisions. Constructive stakeholder engagement and interagency coordination are key elements of CERP adaptive management. To improve its stakeholder engagement, the USACE and SFWMD should formally evaluate and strengthen the CERP’s efforts at outreach and public engagement and implement a process to monitor the efforts’ effectiveness and ensure iterative improvement. Progress continues on improving the Monitoring and Assessment Plan and on building a baseline of monitoring data by which restoration progress will be judged. MAP 2009 largely addressed the prior committee’s concerns about monitoring and assessment (NRC, 2008), although a full evaluation of the MAP cannot take place until additional on-the-ground restoration progress has taken place. RECOVER, however, should continue to make use of existing analytic tools (and develop new ones as needed) to establish critical thresholds for performance measure values to support assessment and evaluation. These thresholds should be used as indicators of impending changes in ecosystem components that are important or difficult to reverse, thus potentially allowing corrective measures to be initiated. The Science Coordination Group, working with RECOVER scientists, developed a stoplight indicator system that substantially improves the communication of ecosystem status to the public. Research efforts are providing a sound basis for critical CERP decision making. Research during the past few years has led to notable advances in our understanding of climate trends in South Florida and the sensitivity of the regional water management system to changes in climate and sea level. Research has also improved understanding of the pre-drainage Everglades and has clarified the key parameters governing the formation and maintenance of landscape features in the ridge and slough ecosystem. For example, the LILA Project is providing critical fundamental understanding of the hydrologic regimes necessary to sustain the Everglades Landscape. Also under way are two major science synthesis efforts directed toward answering key restoration science questions relevant to restoration management. Little recent progress has been made in developing integrated hydrologic, ecological, and biogeochemical models to inform restoration decision making and to provide input for adaptive management. Hydrologic modeling has been
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review - 2010 the primary focus of CERP model development efforts, and substantial progress has been made on the NSRSM and in subregional applications of the RSM. In contrast, efforts to develop ecological models, linked ecological-hydrologic models, and biogeochemical or sediment transport models are notably minimal. As a result, project planning and decision making proceeds without complete information as to the ecological and water quality impacts at both a project and regional scale. Although the concept of economic valuation of ecosystem services is a promising and important one, the committee does not see near-term benefits to its use in the CERP. Developing accurate and defensible estimates of the economic values of ecosystem services in the Everglades will require careful, deliberate, original research and analysis that integrates assessments of aquatic ecosystem functions, services, and individual value estimates. Prerequisites for such an analysis are integrated hydrologic, ecological, and biogeochemical models that can predict the ecosystem services that will likely result from alternative restoration activities; even with such models, the analysis would require a large effort. For this reason, economic valuation of ecosystem services is unlikely to assist near-term decision making. Everglades restoration planners should be alert to specific opportunities when the economic valuation of ecosystem services has the potential to be useful, and, especially, to improve the methods for economic valuation of ecosystem services and adapt them to the Everglades.