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).