WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today announced an important step forward in restoring America’s Everglades. The Department of the Interior has dedicated $1 million dollars with which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can move forward on the next steps needed to modify the Tamiami Trail. The modifications, known as “Phase 2,” will restore water flows to Everglades National Park.
“The Department of the Interior remains fully committed to sustaining support of the Everglades restoration effort,” Kempthorne said. “Today’s important step forward represents a major opportunity to chart a course for a project that is not only pivotal to restoration of Everglades National Park’s ecosystem, but fundamental to restoration of the greater Everglades ecosystem. Today, we move forward in determining exactly what additional modifications to Tamiami Trail must be undertaken to achieve our restoration goals for this tremendous place, the Everglades.”
Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett represented the Department of the Interior in a ceremony today at Shark Valley in Everglades National Park. Scarlett detailed the Department’s funding initiative to support an effort to specifically determine additional modifications to the Tamiami Trail that are fundamental to restoring Everglades National Park and the greater Everglades ecosystem.
“These past 20 years, many Everglades restoration partners have purchased land, undertaken projects and improved land mgmt,” Scarlett said. “Yet restoration as we all envision it, still lies off on the horizon. Today, we take one more step along our restoration journey by announcing that our National Park Service will provide $1 million to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to evaluate the next phase along the Tamiami Trail necessary to restore water flows.”
Scarlett was joined at the event by Kameran Onley, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science, who moderated the event; George Dunlop, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works; Mike Sole, Secretary, Florida Department of Environmental Protection; Eric Buermann, Chairman of the Board of Governors, South Florida Water Management District; Kirk Fordham, Executive Director, Everglades Foundation; David Anderson, Executive Director, Audubon of Florida; and Nathaniel Reed, Everglades Foundation.
Restoration of water flow into Everglades National Park has been and remains the highest priority for the Park’s ecologic health. The Tamiami Trail will continue as a major constraint to restoring the Everglades and Florida Bay until substantial additional hydrological connectivity is established across the Trail. As such, it is imperative to move forward as soon as possible in developing recommendations for a Phase 2 plan for Tamiami Trail to increase and restore more natural water flow across the Water Conservation Area/Everglades National Park interface, thereby reconnecting areas of the historic Everglades that are now separated.