CERP: The Plan in Depth - Part 2
Getting the water right is the critical part of restoring the south Florida ecosystem. The Comprehensive Plan will do this, and its benefits are not dependent on other efforts. But the Comprehensive Plan is also part of a larger effort to restore the ecosystem and provide for a sustainable south Florida. A strategic plan entitled Coordinating Success: a Strategy for the South Florida Ecosystem was developed under the direction of the South Florida Ecosystem Task Force by federal, state, local and tribal leaders. And it is updated along with the Biennial Report Tracking Success every two years. Over 200 projects are tied together under the strategic plan. The Task Force provides guidance to each project from a larger perspective and works to resolve disputes.
Getting the Water Right
The Comprehensive Plan is the cornerstone of getting the water right because it addresses the problem on a regional basis. There are, however, other Corps projects of a more limited scope that work toward restoring and enhancing the natural system. The Corps has been working on the restoration of the Kissimmee River since the late 1990s that will return the natural areas of the river and improve wildlife habitat in the northern part of the greater Everglades system. Two other projects are underway to return water flows to Everglades National Park through Shark River and Taylor Sloughs, two historically important water "channels" for the River of Grass.
State and Local Efforts also Address Water
Water quality problems are being addressed by the state through the multi-step Everglades ConstructionProject that uses wetlands for stormwater treatment areas and encourages best management practices to reduce pollutants in runoff from cities and farms. The South Florida Water Management District is also developing regional and sub-regional water supply plans to provide for better water resources management. The photo to the right reflects a pumping facility under construction adjacent to the Everglades National Park.
Restoring and Enhancing the Natural System
Efforts to restore and enhance the natural environment are also taking place at the region-wide level as well as on a smaller scope. These efforts focus on two primary components: species diversity and habitat protection. For example, the Multi-Species Recovery Plan, developed by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, provides a comprehensive strategy to address habitat needs of the 68 endangered species in the area. Another example, the Corps Environmental Impact Statement for Southwest Florida, will provide a comprehensive framework for evaluating future requests for development permits.
Transforming the Built Environment is Another Goal of the Overall Restoration Effort
Growth issues are being addressed at the state and local level. Efforts to balance growth and resource protection, as well as efforts to enhance the quality of life in urban areas are all important to the overall ecosystem. The Florida initiative called Eastward Ho! will redirect future development into the historical eastern corridor, revitalizing older urban areas. The broad effort by Miami-Dade County to address land use and water management will determine the future economic, social, and environmental sustainability for most of urban and rural Miami-Dade County. The joint state and Corps effort under the Florida Keys Carrying Capacity Study provided an information base for managers to make decisions about balancing economic and environmental needs.
Efforts by federal, state, local and tribal entities represent the commitment of all to have a comprehensive and integrated strategic plan to achieve restoration and sustainability. The Comprehensive Plan complements these efforts.
Next: Part 3 - Development and Study Goals