The National Park Service will adopt, with refinements, a plan devised by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve water flows along the "river of grass" through Everglades National Park in Florida.
The Corps back in July 2014 released its Central Everglades Planning Project Final Environmental Impact Statement. It proposes broad actions that would optimize the use of public lands to deliver 210,000 acre-feet of water from Lake Okeechobee to the central Everglades, Everglades National Park, and Florida Bay each year, Everglades Superintendent Pedro Ramos said in a release.
"The Selected Plan, Alternative 4R2, includes features to store, treat, and deliver water as sheet flow at the top of Water Conservation Area 3A and calls for removal of barriers to sheet flow between WCA-3A, WCA 3B, and Everglades National Park," he wrote.
The removal of Old Tamiami Trail within ENP is one of multiple CEPP projects proposed to increase conveyance capacity, enhance sheet flow to the south, and alleviate high water conditions in Water Conservation Area 3A. The FEIS analyzed the impacts associated with removing 5.7 miles of the Old Tamiami Trail to improve hydrologic sheet flow. The FEIS determined that the removal of the 5.7-mile section of Old Tamiami Trail in its entirety would result in significant long-term impacts to this historic road. While the FEIS included a sufficient level of detail at the programmatic level, additional data analysis and consideration of a wider range of viable alternatives will be included in the next phase of the project. The NPS intends to adopt the direction contained in the CEPP selected plan, refine the direction in more focused environmental reviews, and provide site specific impact analysis prior to implementation of actions proposed in the selected plan.
You can find the CEPP FEIS and supporting documents at this Park Service website.
You may provide comments on the proposed adoption by e-mail or U.S. mail to the project contact below. At the end of the 30-day period, the NPS will issue a Record of Decision to adopt the CEPP EIS and its Selected Plan. The ROD will be posted on the PEPC website.
Following completion of the ROD, Everglades National Park will prepare an Environmental Assessment of potential modifications to Old Tamiami Trail that will tier off of the CEPP FEIS. The EA will analyze the site-specific effects on hydrologic sheet flow, the Old Tamiami Trail, and other resources that could result from removing different amounts of roadway. The EA will be available for a 30-day public comment period that will be announced to the public by press release, posting on this website, and by electronic mail to the ENP mailing list.
For further information, contact Robert Johnson, director of the South Florida Natural Resources Center, at 305-224-4240 or by email at Robert_Johnson@nps.gov.