Acquisition of Florida Power and Light Company Lands in the East Everglades Expansion Area

UPDATE - Everglades National Park has extended the public scoping comment period for the Acquisition of Florida Power and Light Company (FPL) Lands Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The comment period will continue through July 25th, 2011 in response to requests from agencies and the public for additional time to review and comment on the scoping newsletter.

The National Park Service (NPS), in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, is initiating an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate options and potential impacts for acquiring lands owned by the Florida Power and Light Company (FPL) within the East Everglades Expansion Area (Expansion Area) of Everglades National Park. This will include the potential exchange of lands authorized in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 and other reasonable alternatives. The NPS decision to be made at the conclusion of this process is whether to exchange NPS lands for FPL's lands within the Park boundary or to acquire FPL's lands by purchase, eminent domain, or by other means identified in the EIS.

The Everglades National Park Protection and Expansion Act of 1989 expanded the boundaries of the Park to include approximately 109,600 acres. That act and additional legislation authorized the NPS and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to acquire lands within the Expansion Area. Acquisition of FPL's lands in their undeveloped condition is needed to help facilitate the hydrologic and ecological restoration of the Everglades ecosystem.

FPL has owned about 320 acres within the Expansion Area since the early 1970s. Because the FPL property is currently undeveloped and is needed for ecosystem restoration and enhancement, the NPS is seeking to acquire the FPL property, manage it as part of the Park, and maintain it in its undeveloped condition.

The NPS began an Environmental Assessment (EA) process for the FPL land acquisition in June 2009. After careful consideration of public comment and the issues and analyses developed during the EA process, the NPS has determined that there is potential for significant impacts to the human environment from this decision, and the NPS therefore intends to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.

A Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS was published in the Federal Register on May 26, 2011. A Scoping Newsletter with detailed project information can be downloaded from the Document List. The NOI and newsletter initiate the public scoping process to solicit public comments and identify issues or concerns regarding the potential land acquisition or exchange in the Park.

A public scoping meeting will be held on June 22, 2011 at the Florida International University Stadium Club from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The address is 11200 SW 8th Street, Miami, Florida 33199. Click the Meeting Notices link on this page for further details.

Written comments can be submitted on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website or mailed to: National Park Service, Denver Service Center - Planning Division, Attn: FPL Project Planning Team, P.O. Box 25287, Denver, CO 80225-0287.

Public comments submitted during scoping for the EA in 2009 will be carried forward to this project and considered as part of scoping for this EIS. Anyone who commented on the EA is welcome to provide new, additional comments during the current public comment period.

The public comment period ends July 10, 2011.

Due to request from agencies and the public For more information or questions about the Acquisition of FPL Lands EIS or the scoping process, contact Brien Culhane, Chief, Planning and Compliance at 305-242-7717 or by e-mail; or Fred Herling, Park Planner at 305-242-7704 or by e-mail.

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