By Dawn Shirreffs
This month, the National Academy of Sciences released their biennial report tracking progress of the largest ecosystem restoration project in the history of the world. The report concludes that restoration is taking too long, America’s Everglades continues to deteriorate, and completion of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) must be accelerated.
Mandated by Congress, the Committee on Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration Projects convenes every two years to ensure that the 30-year multi-billion-dollar Restoration Plan uses the best science, lowest cost and delivers on the promise to protect and restore America’s Everglades.
The team, comprised of distinguished scholars identified key accomplishments including rebounding of wetlands in the Picayune Strand and the completion of the blueprint for the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP). CEPP is viewed as vital to accelerating restoration and protecting the Florida Bay, Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries. CEPP also stands out as the first project to tackle water quality concerns while increasing freshwater to Everglades National Park.
Although there is strong momentum and public support for restoration, rapidly declining state and federal financial investment in the CERP projects have caused progress to lag. Scientists warn that without creative policy solutions, timely project authorizations and restored funding levels, restoration would become more costly and water supplies could be in jeopardy.
We can do better. At today’s pace – it could be more than four decades before we see significant benefits – an outcome the National Academy concludes to be “unreasonable and undesirable”. Specific recommendations for Everglades restoration:
1) Authorizing and constructing CEPP without delay.
2) Prioritize Everglades projects that prevent further ecosystem decline.
3) Complete the Modified Water Deliveries Project that once completed will provide long awaited restoration benefits to Everglades National Park.
4) Identify dedicated funding sources that will yield increased investment.
See full report here: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=18809