We’re all pulling on the oar.”. 3d 500 (S.D.N.Y. This function involves close coordination with the lead agencies And what we once called the “River of Grass” will be permanently relegated to history books. ), Catskills Mountains Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Inc. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2017 WL 192707 (2d Cir. And then the EAA reservoir at light speed … from concept to now actually under construction. Bartlett's figures might be understood this way: Each billion of the now-estimated $16 billion project price tag is $1,000 million, so the $700 million awarded last year is just over 4 percent of the total. Environmental restoration (is) becoming an economic engine.”. An airboat tour guide, outspoken Glades advocate and member of the Miccosukee Tribe, she’s immersed in the River of Grass, though lately, that immersion has been deeper and more literal than she’d prefer. al., Case No. Fla. 2007) (Moore Case 2), WRDA 2007: Congress Authorizes the Indian River Lagoon-South (IRL-South), the Picayune Strand, and Site 1 Impoundment Projects, The Florida Legislature Creates the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program (NEEP), Natural Resources Defense Council et al. To many Florida lawyers, litigation in the Everglades seems as old as the Everglades itself. See how the water’s flowing here?” She motions at the dark current galloping past her airboat. The SFWMD is working hard to continue accelerating the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Storage Reservoir. 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. “You see C-43 ripping along. A project designed to improve water flows south to Everglades National Park is underway following a groundbreaking ceremony among federal and state officials on Oct. 21 in western Miami-Dade County. 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 […] Consider two recent developments. Everglades National Park’s several visitor centres have natural history exhibits. The headline Noah Valenstein would put on this 20-years-in-the-making story? Everglades National Park and the WCAs were designated as Outstanding Florida Waters in 1978. “Their designs were supposed to alleviate the flooding issue. 2d 1338 (S.D. Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem. X., Sec. 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.". That’s not to say the federal-state Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan is faltering, but it does illustrate the staggering challenge of such an undertaking. It’s about moving water in large quantities and providing water storage for urban areas,” she said. Now, 40 miles of the river’s meanders are being restored. There’s a disconnect in understanding. Starting in central Florida’s Kissimmee basin, water flowed south to Lake Okeechobee, the state’s largest lake. As a cadre of water management officials await an explosives blast to clear limestone for an EAA Reservoir canal, they discuss the recent surge of momentum. The birds weren’t the only astonishing part of the journey. Twenty years after creation of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, evidence is building that the ambitious effort will succeed. “Some of these tree islands out here have burial remains of Miccosukees and Seminoles and so when they’re inundated with water, the tribes’ ancestral burial mounds are all submerged … After Irma, where they had intense flooding and caskets started floating and everybody was appalled. Jan. 18, 2017). 3d 1123 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011); 1000 Friends of Florida, Inc. et. “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. “It’s about the tree island itself that sustains life out here. ”. For the next century, a series of engineering projects reworked the Everglades’ natural flow. “Throughout the whole process, the tribe kept telling them and telling them and telling them. Beginning in the 1950s and 60s, development in South Florida began to swallow the Everglades. seq. This week, Gov. 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. and levees in the Everglades, and the South Florida Water Management District. “You don’t want someone to be patient. From 1992's Restudy, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan was born. Wakodahatchee. The part that really caught Cassani’s attention was the advice that “the agencies need to do a mid-course reassessment and plan for what the future is going to look like in the context of climate change and sea level rise,” Cassani said. “If you bring someone out who’s never been here, they’ll look around and say, ‘Oh, it’s beautiful,’ but you’re saying, ‘No, no – it’s not supposed to be this way,” she said. They’re like, ‘It’s not our way of life, so it’s all right.’”, People aside, Osceola said, in high water, animals shelter on the tree islands, but if they're swamped too, the creatures wind up on levees or roadsides. Florida’s Chief Resilience Officer, Valenstein heads the state's Department of Environmental Protection, which coordinates with the federal and state agencies implementing CERP. He’s closely followed the project and the regularly required independent critiques by the National Research Council’s Committee on Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration Progress published every two years. 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. 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. Everglades restoration received $96 million of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. But within the next few decades, the ecologically disastrous consequences of man's heavy hand became plain. ", "I’m hoping it becomes the new normal. Well, lo and behold, the water moves, no matter how much pumping they do. §§ 4321, et. 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. We imagine the public still believes that is what Everglades Restoration is supposed to be about.”. al., 75 So. The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) is a multibillion dollar project authorized by Congress in the year 2000. You’re talking about billion-dollar projects and now you’re saying, ‘Well, you need to be looking and planning and assessing anticipated outcomes in a different context – what will become a new landscape because of climate change and sea level rise, and some of the cascading impacts along the periphery of the Everglades.”, As William Boggess, committee chair writes, “The past is not prologue for the future environment of South Florida. “I think the progress we’re seeing fuels the expectation people have that progress can be made, so why is it not happening here?” Valenstein asked. 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. TALLAHASSEE — Gov. For years, a major vision of Everglades restoration was the reconnection of the natural hydrological flow between Lake Okeechobee and Florida Bay. Florida Bay's prized spiny lobsters and game fish began disappearing as its "gin-clear water turned a slimy pea green," Grunwald reports. There will be much more money spent. Recognized as a World Heritage Site, the Everglades provides habitat for over 67 endangered and threatened species. The natural plant and animal communities for which the Everglades are known developed under very low phosphorus conditions. It’s getting more frequent (and) the water is taking apart the structures. 03-23427 (WMH)), Environmental Groups’ Intervention in the Moore Case 1, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Promulgates its Programmatic Regulations for CERP (33 C.F.R. 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.”. Much of the water once destined for its wetlands instead went to coastal towns and cities, farm fields or “to tide” – into the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico, and all that human enterprise has polluted much of the water the Everglades does get. The goal: "restore, preserve, and protect the south Florida ecosystem while providing for other water-related needs of the region, including water supply and flood protection.". 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. 2009), Miccosukee v. United States, 566 F.3d 1 257 (11th Cir. The History of Everglades Restoration The following is a timeline of significant legislation, litigation, projects, and other milestones in Everglades restoration throughout the years. 2011), 1000 Friends of Florida, Inc. et. Everglades continue to provide shelter, not only for diverse wildlife but also for the sensitive yet integral wetlands ecosystem in which they live. 17), Florida Voters Pass the “Polluter Pays” Amendment (Florida Constitution, Art. ... History. In the rainy season it spilled over the lake’s southern margin into a shallow, 50-mile-wide sawgrass marsh before slowly making its way to the state’s saltwater coast: the Ten Thousand Islands, Florida Bay and Biscayne Bay. v. Dean, No. EAA Without Delay. Everybody agrees the Everglades must be restored. 1531, et. If there was ever a time in recent history … “It really makes us proud that we’ll be able to see the benefits in our lifetime,” said District Executive Director Drew Bartlett. “Something’s changed, no doubt. I also think once you’ve had one success, it’s easier to have the next. Ten years later, it hasn’t gotten better. 7), The Water Resources Development Act of 1996 (WRDA 1996), CERP Planning and the C-111 Project, Reinitiation of Consultation for the Mod-Waters Project and the Experimental Program, Jeopardy and Adverse Modification Biological Opinion for Mod-Waters, the Experimental Program and the C-111 Project, Water Managers Publish the Central and Southern Florida Comprehensive Review Study (“Restudy”), Florida Wildlife Federation, Inc. et. Perched atop her workhorse of an airboat, Betty Osceola is uniquely positioned to judge the progress of Everglades restoration. ... Farm Restoration. Miccosukee Indians object to their sacred sites on tree islands covered with floodwater they say could be managed differently. al. 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. Ron DeSantis on Monday backed a controversial reservoir being built in the Everglades while announcing the state will use a pool … The plan’s primary goal is to "get the water right"—that is, to deliver the right amount “We are pushing projects out the door trying to get it all done – to clean water for the Everglades and reduce discharges. v Antwerp et al. Fla. Dec. 11, 2006), Miccosukee Tribe v. United States of America, et al. Tropical Storm Eta and late-season rains have flooded the sawgrass prairies and tree islands off the Tamiami Trail, and the dock of Buffalo Tiger Airboat Tours, which she co-owns, is under water. Aiming to salvage 1.5 million acres of a World Heritage Site that also provides drinking water to 8 million people, it was signed into law by outgoing President Bill Clinton after Congressional authorization in 2000. Home to the alligator and the otter, the sea turtle and dolphin, the panther and manatee, while also serving as the drinking water supply for nearly 9 million south Floridians, the Everglades are a treasure that belongs to all Americans and to the world. "Now, with all this rain and sheet flow, this further solidifies the tribe’s point and what we have been saying. 2008), The SFWMD Completes the River of Grass Planning Process, Corps Finalizes the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS), The State of Florida and U.S. Sugar Modify Contract for Land Purchase, EPA Issues Determination on Everglades Water Quality Standards, Lake Belt Permits Again Rejected by Federal Court, Friends of the Everglades v. S. Fla. Water Mgmt. Everybody agrees the Everglades must be restored. Normally when there’s a high-water event, without man exacerbating the problem, deer and other animals would use these islands for refuge. She nods her head to the north. … and they show you these pictures with these maps superimposed where they’re restoring natural water flow and people believe those big wide blue lines. 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. ), 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. 1567 (S.D. 4D12-2373 (Aug. 7, 2013), The Fish & Wildlife Service Establishes the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area, Florida Wildlife Federation, et. 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. v. Palm Beach County, et. “She’s going to get even skinnier.”, And when she challenges officials, “They say, ‘We hear you and we’ll take it into consideration’ … Or, ‘We received your letter and we made note of it. Last year, we executed more than $700 million in construction projects, about double the year before,” Bartlett said. , 528 F. Supp. 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. 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. An independent scientific review panel warns that a mid-course evaluation is needed because unseen factors like sea level rise and climate change shift the goal posts set up in the original blueprint. al. seq. In 1947, Everglades National Park had put 1.5 million acres into public trust; the following year, in response to chronic flooding in the Everglades and on the Mississippi, the Army Corps launched the Central and Southern Florida Project for Flood Control and Other Purposes, "the largest earthmoving effort since the Panama Canal," writes Michael Grunwald in "The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise." Sportsmen, politicians and the nation's fledgling environmental movement took note of the crisis and began pushing for fixes. In addition, private companies offer guided tram and boat tours in portions of the park. 2d 1324, 1345 (S.D. 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." “Finally, there is a massive amount of progress being made,” he said. While this protected communities within its floodplain, it disrupted the natural cycle of floods and eliminated acres of wetlands. I think it’s politics …to keep those people dry.”. The South Florida Wildlands Association’s Executive Director, Matthew Schwartz, argues that the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir, especially, was ill-conceived and won’t deliver the benefit other projects might have – except for farmers and future development. I’m like, no.” She shakes her head. 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.). Stat. 1881 The projects also include including re-wilding of the once-straightened Kissimmee River, digging underground storage wells and turning miles of roads in a failed community on sensitive lands back to wetlands in the Picayune Strand in eastern Collier County. In 1999, the Corps issued its blueprint for the restoration effort, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (the Restoration Plan). Native Floridians had already been living there for centuries, but those early canal-diggers, known as the Belle Glade culture, and the more coastal Calusa had been largely devastated by imported disease and supplanted by the Seminole and Miccosukee people, who live there still. “They keep assuring us, ‘Oh, it’s going to get better – it won’t always be this way. The focus of restoration is the Everglades freshwater marsh. Everglades Restoration Takes Three Big Steps Forward The Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir water reservation regulations, the completion of the S-333N water control structure, and the award of a contract for construction on the L-67A levee will improve water flow in the River of Grass. “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. “It feels like this is the fastest we’ve ever moved on Everglades restoration,” he said. ), Congress Enacts the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. Phosphorus in agricultural and stormwater runoff has degraded water quality in the Everglades since the 1960s. Though the Everglades is often referred to as a swamp, it encompasses many different environments: prairies, hardwood hammocks, marshes, scrubby woods and deep lakes. “Reader,” he later wrote, “if you have not been in such a place, you cannot easily conceive the torments we endured.”. v. Palm Beach County, et. 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. Its wild places were filled with plant and animal life, including some species found nowhere else: orchids, Everglades mink, panthers, alligators, crocodiles, gar and sky-darkening clouds of birds. ), “Minimum Water Delivery Schedule” for Everglades National Park and modifications to the C-111 Project, The Florida Legislature Enacts The Water Resources Act of 1972 (Chapter 373, Florida Statutes), Congress Enacts the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. “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. 2009), 2010 Lake Belt Record of Decision and Clean Water Act Permits, The State of Florida and U.S. Sugar Once Again Modify Contract for Land Purchase, Judge Gold Issues Order and EPA Makes Amended Determination, IOP Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow Incidental Take Trigger Again Rejected, Court Approves Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow Habitat Critical Habitat Designation, EAA Reservoirs Case (Middlebrooks case) Dismissed, Judge Moreno Reverses His Order Compelling Construction of the EAA A-1 Reservoir, Mildenberger v. 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