Secretary Salazar Wants Everglades National Park to Return to Endangered List

Interior Secretary Salazar wants Everglades National Park to be returned to the World Heritage Site In Danger list. NPS photo.

Righting what he calls a wrong of the Bush administration, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar wants Everglades National Park to once again be listed as a World Heritage Site in Danger.

If you recall, it was back in 2007 when the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization lifted the "in danger" designation from Everglades. For some reason the committee at the time voted unanimously to remove that tag from the Everglades.

The Committee commended the United States of America for its investment of scientific and financial resources to rehabilitate the site which was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979 and on the Danger List in 1993. ... It had been threatened by urban growth and pollution, as well as by the damage caused to Florida Bay in 1992 by Hurricane Andrew.

Regular Traveler readers no doubt remember our disbelief at this action, which was done with the full support of then-Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne at the very time that the Everglades was continuing to be threatened by urban sprawl, drought, pollution, and a list of endangered species that included the American crocodile, the Florida panther, and the West Indian manatee.

Fortunately, the Obama administration realized a ruse when it saw one.

In a release Wednesday the Interior Department said that "the Everglades was hastily removed from the list in 2007 at the request of the previous administration without adequate consultations with the National Park Service, the state of Florida and other stakeholders and without appropriate measures in place to evaluate the progress of on-going efforts to restore the South Florida ecosystem."

“The Everglades remains one of our world’s most treasured – and most threatened – places,” Secretary Salazar said at a meeting of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force in the department’s Sydney Yates Auditorium. “The federal government must once again stand up and meet its responsibilities to Everglades restoration so that one day, when we achieve restoration, we can remove the park from the list of sites that in danger. President Obama has already made a major commitment to Everglades restoration in the budget and through the Recovery Act; we will stay focused on this high priority for our nation and the world.”

President Obama has increased federal support for Everglades restoration, the largest watershed restoration project in history.

The Omnibus Appropriation Act for fiscal year 2009, signed by the President early this year, provides a total of $241 million for Everglades’ projects, including $118 million from the Department of the Interior and $123 million from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

In addition, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also enacted earlier this year, provided $119.2 million in stimulus funding for Everglades work, including $18.6 million for Interior agencies and $100.6 million from the Army Corps of Engineers.

President Obama’s budget request for 2010 would provide $278 million for Everglades’ restoration, including $64 million from Interior and $214 million from the Corps. The 2010 budget for Everglades is $37 million above the 2009 enacted level.

“With the President’s strong commitment to restoration, there is hope for a new day in the Everglades,” Secretary Salazar said. “We will work with other countries to relist the park at the earliest possible time and develop criteria by which we will be able to determine when that day has arrived and the park can be legitimately removed from the danger list.”

The 21-nation World Heritage Committee oversees the list of World Heritage Sites that are of significant cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity. Sites that are deemed to be in jeopardy are placed on the danger list.

The committee currently is meeting in Seville, Spain. While it may be too late to formally get the Everglades relisted at this meeting, the Interior secretary directed the National Park Service representatives attending to initial discussions with other delegates.

In 1993, Everglades National Park was placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger after Hurricane Andrew, based on concerns regarding the deterioration of the park’s ecological integrity. The list is intended to focus attention and, thereby, resources of the international community and encourage action to address those threats, primarily by the concerned.

Comments

Everglades National Park (ENP) summarily evicted the cultural communities associated with it when it was established many years ago (Native Americans-Gladesmen). The Big Cypress National Preserve right next to ENP has never even had a cultural resource person on staff. Why would anyone support ENP or any US National Park as a heritage site? Why the Secretary of Interior would support any place managed by NPS as a heritage site is beyond me. Whenever a National Park has been set up in America the first thing they plan is the removal and destruction of local cultures formally associated with the Park in question in order to make way for the NPS newly invented history and interpretation (propoganda). One wouldn't think NPS doesn't even know there is Directors Order 28 mandating them to protect ethnographic/ cultural communities. The largest benefit so far to come with Everglades Restoration in print is that an additional 2 feet of water will be STORED there in the future. That will be controlled with pumps that I don't believe are too NATURAL.
Mr. Salazar is obviously a political appointee with little if any environmental or cultural professional training in his background.

There are World Cultural Heritage Sites and World Natural Heritage Sites. The Everglades are part of the World Natural Heritage and recognized as such by the UNESCO along with Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Wrangell-St. Elias and Glacier Bay, Redwood NP, Mammoth Cave, Olympic NP, GSM NP, Yosemite, Hawaii Volcanoes NP, Carlsbad Caverns and Glacier NP. The World Cultural Heritage Sites in the US are: Mesa Verde, Independence Hall, Cahokia, La Fortaleza and San Juan in Puerto Rico, Statue of Liberty, Monticello and the Universität of Virginia, Chaco Culture NHP and Taos Pueblo.

Sorry about that culture vs. natural error MRC. I don't want to be politically incorrect here but on the natural note possibly the UN and UNESCO recognized the commitment of the American people through our elected representatives to spend $20,000,000,000 yes $20 Billion dollars that we don't have currently to enhance Everglades National Park's habitat as their justification for removing ENP from their Endangered list. America has actually encumbered quite a few of its future generations with the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan's debt. We American's have gone the extra mile in my opinion and deserve the recognition provided by ENP's removal from the list. As far as my previous comment about Big Cypress National Preserve's staff lacking a cultural specialist I will add that in the last few years under new and exceptionally professional management I've personally witnessed an improvement regarding planning sensitivities to ethnographically associated peoples. That is a good thing. I will just add that I appreciate the National Park Traveler for providing this very interesting forum.

Like everything else that administration did, removing the Everglades from the List of World Heritage in Danger suited them because it was good for business. For eight years, we had secretaries and administrators whose chief jobs were to ensure that the activities, standards, and goals for which their agencies were created were downsized, contained, and thwarted in the interests of business profits. What a disaster that has been for the land upon which we live, the water that we drink, the air that we breathe. Thank God for the election of President Barack Obama.