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Friday, September 23, 2011

Everglades Restoration: Federal Funding and Implementation Progress

Charles V. Stern
Analyst in Natural Resources Policy

The Everglades is a unique network of subtropical wetlands in South Florida that is approximately half of its historical size, due in part to degradation from federal water projects. In 2000, Congress authorized a 30-year plan, termed the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), for the restoration of the Everglades ecosystem in southern Florida. When originally authorized, it was estimated that CERP would cost a total of $8.2 billion and take approximately 30 years to complete. As of 2010, estimates indicate that the plan would take approximately 50 years to implement, and would cost $13.5 billion.

Under CERP, the federal government is required to fund half of the costs for restoration, with an array of state, tribal, and local agencies paying the other half. In addition to activities under CERP, a number of other federal and state efforts (known as non-CERP activities) also contribute to Everglades restoration. While non-CERP efforts are technically not included in the plan under CERP, the two sets of activities are widely viewed as complimentary.

Since passage of CERP in 2000, the federal investment in the Everglades has increased. As of the end of FY2010, the federal government had provided more than $800 million in funding for CERP, with the state providing matching funds for CERP projects, as well as advanced funding (i.e., land acquisition) for some potential future CERP projects. At the same time, federal funding for non-CERP activities has also continued over this time period and totals an estimated $2 billion.

Progress has been made on a number of Everglades restoration projects, although overall progress to date has fallen short of some goals. Federal and state agencies note that as of the end of 2009, 60% of the land necessary for restoration projects under CERP had been acquired, and significant progress has been made on non-CERP activities (including water deliveries to Everglades National Park by the Department of the Interior). Construction has also been initiated on several CERP projects (including both pilot and regular projects), and planning and pre-construction efforts are underway for a number of other CERP projects, with construction expected soon for some of these locations. Despite this progress, some projects have seen setbacks in the form of schedule delays and cost escalations. Additionally, new or revised authorizations will be required for many projects. These impediments may have the effect of further delaying restoration efforts.

Recent reductions to state and federal funding have increased the focus on the federal commitment to the Everglades. The debate and resolution of issues surrounding authorization and appropriations for Everglades restoration projects has implications both for ecosystem restoration in Florida and for large-scale restoration initiatives elsewhere. Consequently, Everglades funding receives attention not only from those interested in the Everglades, but also from stakeholders in other restoration initiatives such as those in coastal Louisiana, the Great Lakes, and Chesapeake Bay. This report provides information on federal appropriations for Everglades restoration and discusses related issues. It also provides a brief summary of accomplishments and potential challenges for Everglades restoration.

Date of Report: September
19, 2011
Number of Pages:
Order Number: R
Price: $29.95

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