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SCCF Gives Comments at South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force Meeting

April 29, 2024
person speaking in meeting

SCCF attended a meeting of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force on April 25 to provide comments on various Everglades restoration projects that impact Southwest Florida.

Created in 1996, the task force brings together partners from state, federal, Tribal, and local governments to help with the gargantuan task of restoring the Everglades. Meeting twice per year — once in D.C. and once in Florida — the task force and its subgroups provide a forum for participating agencies to share information about Everglades restoration projects, resolve conflicts, and report on progress.

At the meeting in Miami, SCCF Environmental Policy Director Matt DePaolis delivered comments (starting at 3:39:30 and 7:25:20 in above recording) on the Western Everglades Restoration Project (WERP),  the Lake Okeechobee Component A Reservoir, and the evaluation of Everglades restoration RECOVER targets, which use biological metrics to evaluate the success of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.

“It’s really easy to narrowly look at decisions being made about one component of the Everglades, one particular structure, one particular flow way, but when you span out and look at what’s being done and what’s been done, the ramifications are massive. And we’re seeing the benefits of these projects coming online,” DePaolis said.

He also informed the task force of the importance to reflect the best available science as it relates to algae blooms within the RECOVER metrics to ensure that the northern estuaries are not suffering from avoidable impacts of restoration projects.

“Those RECOVER targets and metrics being used are so important for the protection of all of our ecosystems within the Everglades and the surround areas that are connected to our Everglades,” DePaolis said. “When we look at some of the science that is now considered the best available science, we’ve confirmed that we know that these huge releases from Lake Okeechobee have a direct exacerbating effect on red tide in our coastal environment. The single biggest thing we can do to prevent the massacre of wildlife in our coastal ecosystems is prevent some of these harmful algal blooms from moving forward.”

Lastly, he commended the diverse stakeholders from across Florida who came out to help the task force evaluate the best course of action as they continue the decades-long task before them of restoring America’s Everglades.


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