(Case No. And what we once called the “River of Grass” will be permanently relegated to history books. al., Case No. Osceola, 53, has watched CERP struggle to unfold nearly half her life. The Office of Ecosystem Projects is the lead office responsible for implementation of the Department of Environmental Protections responsibilities under the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), pursuant to Chapter 373.026(8)(b) of the Florida Water Resources Act, Florida Statutes (F.S.). 02-80309 (S.D. And advocates from some environmental nonprofits sharply criticize key elements of the plan. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) today released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed the FY2021 budget, which includes $250 million in funding for Everglades restoration: “This is a historic vote for Everglades restoration and stopping harmful discharges,” Rep. Mast said. While this protected communities within its floodplain, it disrupted the natural cycle of floods and eliminated acres of wetlands. “That’s a pretty tall order from my perspective. X., Sec. Among other things, it ditched the once-sinuous Kissimmee and dried out vast tracts of farmland. Drew just cracks the whip. “It feels like this is the fastest we’ve ever moved on Everglades restoration,” he said. Cir. I think it’s politics …to keep those people dry.”. In 1992, Congress authorized the Comprehensive Review Study of the C&SF Project. Cost estimates were similarly off the mark. Ever since, humans have been heaping their own superlatives on what are already superlative wetlands: the largest such freshwater system in the U.S. Fla. 2005), Florida Wildlife Federation, et. Yet questions and conflict about CERP remain. The money comes as a 50-50 split from both Florida and federal coffers, though each project must be approved by Washington before funding is released. In the 1800s, bands of Seminole Indians eluded the US Army by hiding out in the marshes of the Florida Everglades on the southern tip of the state. So far, she’s not impressed. v. Palm Beach County, et. Stat. Everglades restoration activities are designed to mimic as best as possible historic flows to the Everglades while accounting for flood protection, water supply for urban and agriculture, and the timing, quantity, quality, and volume of water needed for sustainable native plants and animal populations. When Everglades restoration was drafted, the plan was based on historical ecological trends in the river of grass. It’s about moving water in large quantities and providing water storage for urban areas,” she said. Our History From its headwaters north of Lake Okeechobee to the southern tip of the Florida peninsula, the Florida Everglades is an integral part of our ecology, culture and economy. Though the Everglades is often referred to as a swamp, it encompasses many different environments: prairies, hardwood hammocks, marshes, scrubby woods and deep lakes. In  comments about the project to the South Florida Water Management District, he wrote: “The EAA Reservoir may in fact deliver most of its benefits to EAA agricultural growers as well as expanding the public water supply available to the lower east coast developers (while helping to remove a major impediment to further development in Southeast Florida – a lack of fresh water),” Schwartz wrote. For the next century, a series of engineering projects reworked the Everglades’ natural flow. Twenty years and $5 billion into the biggest environmental restoration in the U.S. or any other nation, exactly one of its 68 separate projects is at the finish line. Shovels hit dirt on the first contract for the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) South, which calls for the construction of culverts and a gap […] al. All of which means we the people are funding Everglades restoration, through property taxes and real estate transaction fees. Phosphorus in agricultural and stormwater runoff has degraded water quality in the Everglades since the 1960s. Sportsmen, politicians and the nation's fledgling environmental movement took note of the crisis and began pushing for fixes. He found the Everglades’ sawgrass and mosquitoes superlative as well. ), The Interior Department and State of Florida Finalize Deal to Purchase Talisman Property, Congress Enacts the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 and Authorizes the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), The Florida Legislature Creates the Save Our Everglades Trust Fund (373.472, Fla. “Nature wants the water to go one way, but certain people who are experts,” she said, the air quotes implicit in her tone of voice, “are very vocal about how they feel water historically always went to the east. Everglades National Park and the WCAs were designated as Outstanding Florida Waters in 1978. Part 385), Miccosukee Tribe of Indians v. United States; Friends of the Everglades v. United States (Consolidated)(04-21448-CIV-GOLD) (“Gold Case”), Judge Gold Finds EPA Must Approve or Disapprove of Amendments to Everglades Forever Act, United States v. South Florida Water Management District, 373 F. Supp. Potentially unforeseen challenges are also of concern to Calusa Waterkeeper’s John Cassani, who recalls going to one of the first Everglades restoration scoping meetings at Fort Myer High School in the mid-1990s. It is clear that the Greater Everglades of 2050 and beyond will be much different from what was envisioned at the time of the CERP conceptual plan.”, Cassani says he and some of his colleagues who’ve been tracking the project from that time “feel like, yes, there’s been some progress, but the increased growth of the state has perhaps neutralized some of that progress (and) system-wide, it’s becoming much more uncertain that we’re actually doing effective restoration.”. The CERP was authorized by Congress in 2000 as a plan to "restore, preserve, and protect the south Florida ecosystem while providing for other water-related needs of the region, including water supply and flood protection." , 528 F. Supp. Agencies from both governments are working the plan as well, from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the South Florida Water Management District. The largest environmental restoration project in history is beginning in the Everglades, the "river of grass" that once covered more than 2.5 million acres of South Florida. Today, the. To Valenstein, the pace has never been brisker. v. Jackson, 853 F.Supp.2d 1138 (N.D. Fla. 2012), The Everglades Restoration Transition Plan (ERTP), Phase I of Tamiami Trail Bridging Completed, More than 5,000 People Protest Discharges into the St. Lucie Estuary, Voters Pass the Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative (Amendment 1), WRDA 2014 Congress Authorizes the Construction of Four CERP Projects, Catskill Mountains Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Inc. v. EPA, 8 F. Supp. “Environmental challenges remain," Valenstein acknowledges, "but for the first time, enough progress is being made – projects being started and concluded – that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”. ... Farm Restoration. al. Early native Floridians were the first to alter the natural flow of the Glades, digging “the longest prehistoric canal system constructed in North America,” in what’s now Glades County to bypass a run of rapids, according to anthropologists. "It will end once and for all the dream of a truly restored Everglades – the gentle but massive flow of clean fresh water from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay. Instead, water stacks up behind concrete barriers, swamping her family’s traditional range and damaging the tree islands where they raise their crops, school their children and bury their loved ones. But they all differ on how it should be done. al. When naturalist John James Audubon visited in 1831, the naturalist marveled at their numbers: “The flocks of birds that covered the shelly beaches, and those hovering overhead, so astonished us that we could for awhile scarcely believe our eyes.”. Everglades Law Center, Government Accountability: Defending the Public Records Act – ELC vs. SFWMD, Hamilton Disston Attempts to Drain the Everglades, State Establishes Everglades Drainage District, The State of Florida Constructs The St. Lucie Canal, “The Everglades: River of Grass” is Published, Central and Southern Florida Project for Flood Control and Other Purposes (“The C&SF Project”) is Authorized by Congress, Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Established, Construction of Water Conservation Areas Begins, The U.S. 17), Florida Voters Pass the “Polluter Pays” Amendment (Florida Constitution, Art. There will be much more money spent. And that system will, once again, be short-changed in a public process which favors agricultural and development interests over wildlife and the natural environment.". “The Everglades is still not likely to receive anywhere near the clean fresh water it needs to restore a significantly degraded ecosystem. ", "I’m hoping it becomes the new normal. “These conditions are not conducive to providing a quality of life for her and her babies,” she said, pointing to a thin-looking alligator cruising the shallows. Fla. 2006)(Moore Case 1), Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and Amended Biological Opinion for IOP, Friends of the Everglades, Inc. et. “In addition to significant investment in the restoration efforts for the Everglades, the Great Lakes, and other important freshwater ecosystems, the natural infrastructure provisions included in WRDA 2020 will spur much needed efforts to build climate resilience for communities and habitat for birds at the same time,” said Greenberger. Consider two recent developments. Its history can be traced back to the 1800s when Hamilton Disston and Henry Flagler were draining, dredging, and filling Florida’s land while fighting in the courts with shareholders, speculators, and state land administrators. EAA Without Delay. "When a Miccosukee or a Seminole says, “This is my home,’ people in the urban areas and the decision-makers cannot grasp the concept that this is somebody’s home. As people moved in, building towns and cities and planting in its fertile muck soils, the Everglades’ footprint contracted from more than 5 million acres to some 2.5 million. Fish & Wildlife Service Establishes the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Congress Enacts the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 3d 500 (S.D.N.Y. CERP’s goal was to restore some semblance of the Everglades’ historic flow, which for centuries began as water rippled over the lip of Lake Okeechobee and slowly trickled through the gently sloping landscape until it drained into the gin-clear depths of Florida Bay. :Making sense of environmental acronyms. And there’s no BS – it’s just, ‘Let’s get it done,’ and I think everyone who works there wants to get it done, so there’s this sense of energy and mission, These guys are focused,” he said. Betty Osceola’s mounting discontent is healthy, say Valenstein and Chauncey Goss, who chairs the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District, Florida’s lead CERP agency. § 373.4592), The State Begins Construction of Stormwater Treatment Areas, Final Integrated General Reevaluation Report for the C-111 Project, FWS Jeopardy Opinion for Test 7 of the Experimental Program, Everglades Trust Fund (Florida Constitution, Art. Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, the Picayune Strand in eastern Collier County, Your California Privacy Rights/Privacy Policy. Though CERP’s estimated timeline at the turn of the 21st century was 30 years, two decades into the project, the work is nowhere near two-thirds done. “All those millions of dollars spent on the seepage barrier, on the bridges, pumps, infrastructure they say is going to take care of (flooding) but it’s still happening,” she said. §§ 4321, et. 2011), 1000 Friends of Florida, Inc. et. §§ 1251, et. It’s going to be a game-changer.". Wakodahatchee. “Finally, there is a massive amount of progress being made,” he said. 1881 But people can’t equate that to what happens out here. The history of the Everglades includes Spanish explorer Ponce de León’s quest for gold and slaves (and the fountain of youth) in 1513, the Seminole Wars in the mid-1800s, and President Harry S. Truman’s dedication of Everglades National Park in 1947. “We are pushing projects out the door trying to get it all done – to clean water for the Everglades and reduce discharges. v. Browner (N.D. Fla. 1999), Florida Watershed Protection Act (§403.067, Fla. “They’re suggesting that they need to shift the paradigm from trying to imitate the pre-drainage Everglades to one that will become  more relevant to what will become the future landscape. ”. Fla. 1992) (“The Moreno Case”), Everglades National Park Protection and Expansion Act, The Florida Legislature Passes the Everglades Protection Act, Kissimmee River Restoration Project Begins, The United States and State of Florida Enter into “The Consent Decree”, The General Design Memorandum (GDM) for “Modified Water Deliveries to Everglades National Park, Everglades Forever Act (Fla. Stat. Pulling on the oar. ” as old as the Restudy, the Everglades... ( N.D. Fla. 1999 ), Florida Watershed Protection Act ( 42 U.S.C Area ( EAA storage. Have the next few decades, the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers were permanently attached to its sides drainage... Object to their sacred sites on tree islands covered with floodwater they say could be differently. And internationally as one of the Everglades ’ sawgrass and mosquitoes superlative well... Everglades is still not likely to receive anywhere near the clean fresh water it to. 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