Draft Environmental Impact Statement Calls for Additional Bridging on Tamiami Trail to Restore Natural Flows to Everglades



05/19/2010

Contact: Hugh Vickery (202) 208-6416

WASHINGTON -- The Department of the Interior’s National Park Service today released a draft Environmental Impact Statement that identifies alternatives to restore natural water flows to the Everglades. The National Park Service is seeking public comment on the feasibility of constructing additional bridging on Tamiami Trail in addition to the 1 mile of bridging currently under construction. 

“The Tamiami trail has long been recognized as a primary barrier to natural flow of water through the Everglades. Last year, we took a significant step forward when we broke ground on a mile-long bridge to allow water to flow under the trail, but we need to do more if we are going to restore the Everglades ecosystem to health,” Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Tom Strickland said. “This new bridging would give us the capability to restore up to 100 percent of the historic volume and distribution of water that used to flow southward into Northeast Shark River Slough before the trail was constructed.”

Strickland announced the release of the draft EIS during a panel discussion moderated by Tom Brokaw at America’s Everglades Summit sponsored by the Everglades Foundation.

The public will have an opportunity to comment on the draft EIS for 60 days, which will be published in the Federal Register in the next few days. The National Park Service will evaluate the comments and consider all options before issuing a final report to Congress. Congress would have to authorize and fund any future construction.

The National Park Service developed the draft EIS in response to the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act that directed the department to evaluate the feasibility of additional bridging for the trail necessary to improve the ecological connectivity within the Everglades.

If completed, additional bridging would eliminate historical hydrologic constraints and allow for more natural sheet flow patterns, improving ecological conditions throughout much of the southern Everglades, including the Water Conservation Areas and Everglades National Park.

“The restoration of the Everglades is not simply a matter of providing more water-- we must get the water right in the right place.” Strickland said. “We must restore the distribution of water across the landscape that approximates the historic flow patterns and ensures proper water quality to support the plants and wildlife of this unique ecosystem.”

The draft EIS can be found at http://parkplanning.nps.gov.

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