Everglades National Park Releases Final Environmental Impact Statement for Acquisition of Florida Power & Light Company Land

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Date: December 4, 2015
Contact: General Park Information:, 305-242-7700
Contact: Media contact: Linda Friar, 305-242-7714

MIAMI - The National Park Service (NPS) has released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for acquisition of a parcel of land owned by Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) in the East Everglades Expansion Area (EEEA) of Everglades National Park. Alternative 3, “Fee-for-Fee Land Exchange,” is the NPS preferred alternative. Under this alternative, the NPS would acquire fee title to the FPL property through an exchange for park property, as authorized by Congress in 2009 (P.L. 111-11).

“This is an important step in our nation’s long term plan to restore the Everglades,” said Everglades National Park Superintendent Pedro Ramos. “Acquisition of this property is central to our efforts to elevate water levels in this area of the park. It is a critical component of long-term Everglades ecosystem restoration.” 

According to Ramos, among the five alternatives considered Alternative 3 best meets the purposes, needs, and objectives of the NPS. It is expected to provide the greatest benefit by achieving the majority of Everglades restoration goals while mitigating costs to the government and avoiding or minimizing environmental harm.

The FPL parcel consists of about 320 acres within the boundaries of Everglades National Park. It is a linear north-south corridor approximately 330 feet to 370 feet wide and approximately 7.4 miles long. The parcel was purchased by FPL in the 1960s and early 1970s, prior to the park’s expansion, with the intention of supporting future power transmission lines.

The NPS land to be conveyed in exchange for the FPL parcel consists of about 260 acres along 6.5 miles of the eastern boundary of the EEEA. The NPS would also convey a 90-foot-wide perpetual nonnative vegetation management easement to FPL adjacent to the entire length of the exchange corridor. The land exchange would be subject to terms and conditions that are to be agreed upon between NPS and FPL and incorporated into a binding exchange agreement. The United States would have the perpetual right to flood and submerge the exchange corridor, consistent with hydrologic restoration requirements.

Alternative 3 was revised from the Draft EIS to the FEIS because of updated transmission line siting requirements included in the State of Florida site certification process that were not available in time for the Draft EIS. The State’s May 2014 final order certified a new transmission corridor that is largely outside the park boundary and only uses a portion of the 260-acre exchange corridor within the park. It is called the “West Consensus Corridor.” The final order directed FPL to pursue the use of the West Consensus Corridor as the primary corridor for siting transmission lines and to avoid siting any transmission lines in the park. The FPL West Preferred Corridor (which includes the NPS exchange lands) would only be used for placement of FPL transmission lines in the event that an adequate right-of-way within the FPL West Consensus Corridor outside of the park boundary cannot be secured in a timely manner and at a reasonable cost.

According to Ramos, the key change in this alternative from the Draft EIS to the FEIS is a commitment that FPL shall reconvey to the NPS all acreage in the exchange corridor that is determined to be unneeded by FPL to build the transmission lines. FPL would not develop land within the exchange corridor until completing the requirements of the site certification process and determining land ownership needs. The park boundary would be adjusted after the reconveyance, so it reflects the actual final land ownership between FPL and NPS. These commitments would be identified in a binding exchange agreement between the two parties.

Everglades National Park has been working to acquire either fee title or access to more than 8,000 parcels for the East Everglades Expansion area since it was authorized by Congress in 1989 with the passage of the Everglades National Park Protection and Expansion Act. The FPL parcel of approximately 330 acres is one of the remaining six parcels that are needed to allow for elevation of water levels in this area of the park.

The planning process for the EIS took several years. The Draft EIS was available for public review and comment for 60 days from January 17, 2014, through March 18, 2014. There was also substantial review by multiple government agencies. The FEIS responds to and incorporates agency and public comments received on the Draft EIS.

The release of the Final EIS and publication of the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register on December 4, 2015, begins a 30-day no-action period. Following the no-action period, the alternative or actions constituting the selected alternative will be documented in a Record of Decision that will be signed by the Regional Director of the NPS Southeast Region.

The Final EIS can be downloaded at the NPS website:

https://parkplanning.nps.gov/FPL_FEIS

  



Last updated: December 7, 2015

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