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Scientists Seek Re-Evaluation of Everglades Restoration

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
National Parks Conservation Association.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A committee of scientists is recommending a re-evaluation of a $16 billion restoration of the Florida Everglades, the largest in American history.

The committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in a report to Congress called for the re-evaluation as the effort approaches its 17th year.

Julie Hill-Gabriel of Audubon of Florida says the committee wants the re-evaluation as scientific understanding of the Everglades evolves and sea level rise poses a greater concern.

“If you go back even six or seven years ago there was still a lot of uncertainty about Everglades restoration and would it work, could we ever build such large-scale projects with the goal of helping an ecosystem. And now that things are underway we really are charting the path and showing that it can be done.”

The state agency charged with administering the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan calls such a recommendation “irresponsible.”

The South Florida Water Management District says a re-evaluation “undermines the remarkable progress” achieved as part of the restoration.

“The Committee’s recommendation is saturated in self-interest,” the water management district asserted in a statement. “It solely benefits the Committee’s agenda to order more studies, when South Florida is in need of serious action.”

The scientists say the effort requires such re-evaluations every five years but that they have not been routinely conducted.

They also say a lack of funding is poised to push the restoration’s completion from 2030 to 2060.