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October 22nd, 2010

Rebuilding the Everglades through Partnership

Kissimme birds fly around the Florida Everglades.

This week I’m in Florida at Phase II of the District Engineer Course. Much of the discussion centered around transparent communications and the value of partnerships with local communities, and state and federal leaders.  

One of the best examples of an open, quality partnership is here in Florida.  The Florida Everglades is one of the most diverse ecosystems on earth. It is also the major fresh water source for southern Florida and key in the battle against flooding and drought. 

More than a century ago, the environmental benefits of the Everglades were mortgaged in favor of commercial and real estate development, destroying nearly half of the Everglades.  Now, the federal government, state and local authorities are joining together in the largest environmental restoration effort in history called the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). 

This plan aims to enhance Everglades’ wetlands and associated lakes, rivers, and bays in the 16-county region of South Florida. CERP projects will capture and store much of the water currently lost to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, ensuring that the biodiversity of the Everglades can be preserved and expanded. 

CERP can’t happen without the cooperation of a variety of agencies and governments. The Corps actively works with the South Florida Water Management District, the Department of the Interior, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, the Everglades National Park Service, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the Miami-Dade Department of Environmental Resources Management, just to name a few. 

Together, our partnership is working to restore the wetlands to the valuable natural landscape it once was through dozens of projects, including adding 55,000 acres of habitat to the Everglades system.  

Building a strong environment for our Nation through partnership…that’s a lesson worth learning! 

Van

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