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THE EVERGLADES: The Everglades is recognized both nationally and internationally as one of the world’s most unique natural and cultural resources. Encompassing nearly 4 million acres from the Kissimmee River basin north of Lake Okeechobee all the way south to the Florida Keys, the Everglades ecosystem is also the focus of the world’s largest intergovernmental watershed restoration effort. US DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR: The Department of the Interior (DOI) has a number of important responsibilities in the management, restoration, and preservation of this unique ecosystem.
  • The National Park Service (NPS) manages four national park units: Everglades, Dry Tortugas, and Biscayne national parks and Big Cypress National Preserve.
  • The Office of Everglades Restoration Initiatives (OERI) is responsible for coordinating DOI’s restoration responsibilities with its federal and non-federal partners as well as facilitating coordination among DOI bureaus involved in the restoration effort. Additionally, the OERI provides support for the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force (Task Force).
  • The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) manages 16 National Wildlife Refuges, including the A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. The FWS is also responsible for the management of species protected by laws such as the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
  • The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) provides key scientific research and support to DOI as well as to our restoration partners.
SOUTH FLORIDA ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION TASK FORCE: In the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 1996, Congress established the interagency South Florida Ecosystem Restoration (Task Force) and designated the Secretary of the Interior as Chair. Four sovereign entities (federal, state, and two tribes) are represented on the Task Force. Fourteen members sit on the Task Force itself, representing seven federal departments, three state agencies/offices, two American Indian tribes, and two local governments. The Florida-based Working Group and the Science Coordination Group (SCG) have been established to assist the Task Force with its responsibilities. Their members include additional federal, state, and local agencies. The Task Force and Working Group establish regional and issue-based teams as needed to address pressing or area-based restoration concerns. The OERI supports and implements all Task Force, Working Group, SCG, and team efforts. COMPREHENSIVE EVERGLADES RESTORATION PLAN IMPLEMENTATION: In 2000, Congress approved the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration (CERP) to restore, preserve, and protect the South Florida Ecosystem, while providing for other water-related needs of the region. WRDA 2000 also provides the Secretary of the Interior with a series of specific duties that are performed and facilitated by the OERI:
  • Developing the Joint Report to Congress on the implementation of CERP with the Secretary of the Army.
  • Developing with the Army and the Governor of the State of Florida an independent scientific review panel to provide independent peer review of the CERP; the Committee on Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration Progress (CISRERP) is currently providing this scientific review.
  • DOI has a concurrency role, by federal regulation, on revisions to CERP’s programmatic regulations and on development of the six program-wide guidance memoranda as well as a consultation role on many CERP products.
  • Also by federal regulation, DOI, with the Army and the Governor, is tasked with executing an Interim Goals Agreement establishing interim goals.
In addition to the statutory and regulatory requirements described above, DOI and its bureaus participate in project delivery teams to develop the products necessary to implement CERP projects. The OERI coordinates DOI bureau comments on CERP implementation through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The OERI also facilitates public participation workshops to enhance public input during the CERP planning process.