restoration options and limit the understanding of water quality constraints in hydrologic restoration projects.
Transparent and systematic mechanisms to build trust and incorporate a range of stakeholder preferences relevant to CERP implementation into decision support frameworks would help to clarify and reduce conflict and enhance transparency. The committee acknowledges recent steps toward establishing formal structured decision support tools for components of the CERP with an emphasis on weighing multiple objectives. Decision support frameworks that build trust and provide opportunities for deliberation and negotiation can also assist in identifying and reducing sources of conflict, although they cannot, on their own, eliminate persistent conflict. Hence, additional mechanisms may be needed to resolve conflict, or at the very least, a strategy should be set in place for moving forward in the face of conflict while considering conflicting values, preferences, and objectives.
OVERALL EVALUATION OF PROGRESS AND CHALLENGES
Over the past two years, the pace of restoration implementation has improved, although restoration remains focused along the periphery of the remnant Everglades. Degradation of the Water Conservation Areas and Everglades National Park continues because of the altered hydrology and poor water quality in the system. Substantial progress has been made over the past two decades to reduce phosphorus in the inflows. Moreover, state and federal governments have reached agreement on the additional steps necessary to meet the phosphorus criterion for existing flows. However, minimal progress has been made on restoring the water flows essential to restoring the remnant Everglades ecosystem. The altered flow regimes have plagued the Everglade snail kite, whose trajectory to near extirpation is tied to that of the overall system. Degradation of key hydrology-dependent ecosystem components, such as the ridge and slough and tree islands, continues relatively unabated, and further losses can only be recovered over long timeframes, if at all.
Saving the historical Everglades at this critical juncture requires a new approach. Key components of a new strategy include: 1) focusing on restoring the central core of the historical Everglades to reverse the ongoing degradation before it is too late; 2) ending the segregation of water quantity and quality and integrating water quantity and quality analyses that explore opportunities to accelerate restoration in the remnant Everglades; and 3) finding a new way to do business that avoids costly and unproductive delays in the project planning and authorization processes. The Central Everglades Planning Project is a promising new initiative focused on the remnant Everglades with the goal of greatly expediting the project planning process.