Resource ChallengeSouth Florida is one of the most sensitive ecosystems in the world, its degradation a challenge of national significance. The major cause is a massive drainage project, begun in the late 1800s and completed in the 1970s, which stretches from just south of Orlando to Florida Bay. It has delivered polluted runoff from agricultural and urban communities to the Everglades, over-drained the ecosystem, and destroyed millions of acres of wetlands. Challenges include how to recover the ability to store water that currently drains off the land, and how to clean up polluted runoff before it reaches sensitive water bodies such as the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee, the Florida Keys, and coastal estuaries.
Examples of Key Partners
City of South Bay, Miami-Dade County, South Florida Water Management District, Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, Seminole Tribe of Florida, State of Florida and its associated agencies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), USDI, USDA, Department of Defense ( Army Corps of Engineers), U.S. Department of Transportation, the Justice Department, and others.
Results and Accomplishments
This complex, challenging restoration is being carried out by a combination of federal, state, local, and tribal initiatives. To facilitate the coordination of these initiatives, Congress established the intergovernmental South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force in 1996. A Florida-based Working Group, a Science Coordination Group, and several other ad hoc advisory committees assist the Task Force in fulfi lling its responsibilities. These federal, state, local, and tribal representatives are working cooperatively and communicating with all stakeholders in an unprecedented, multi-decade conservation endeavor. Together, they are working to restore a healthy ecosystem that supports diverse, sustainable communities of plants, animals, and people, while meeting the water supply and flood control needs of the contiguous urban and agricultural communities.
Specific accomplishments include:
Secured passage of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) by Congress in 2000.
Launched extensive land acquisition projects, including 107,000 acres to expand the Everglades National Park, and approximately 50 percent of the land needed for water management improvements called for in the CERP.
Restored approximately one third of the Kissimmee River to its natural state.