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Contact: Linda Friar, 305-242-7714
Contact: Dave Sikkema, 305-224-4214
Homestead Florida - The National Park Service (NPS) has issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Pilot Spreader Swale project. Southeast Regional Director David Vela approved the FONSI based on the environmental assessment (EA) recommended by Everglades National Park Superintendent Dan B. Kimball. With the environmental assessment and associated compliance completed, the park can now focus on the pilot project to study the efficacy of spreader swales on Tamiami Trail described in the environmental assessment.
The Selected Action is a small component of the larger Modified Water Deliveries to Everglades National Park project (Mod Waters). The purpose of Mod Waters is to restore wetland functions within the park by modifying water deliveries to the park and altering water management operation outside of the park. Mod Waters is jointly funded by the NPS and USACE and is expected to be completed in 2012. The purpose of the pilot spreader swale project is to determine if installation and functioning of spreader swales will be effective in contributing to the overall restoration goals of the Mod Waters project by taking steps to restore the natural hydrologic conditions (increased flow and natural distribution) of Northeast Shark River Slough. The environmental assessment identified four objectives for meeting the project purpose:
Provide data and information to the NPS and USACE to guide future planning and compliance efforts for enhancing flows and assessing potential ecological benefits in Northeast Shark River Slough.
Establish criteria for determining compliance with restoration goals of the Mod Waters project, including thresholds for water quality, quantity, and distribution of flows in Northeast Shark River Slough.
Define what monitoring, measurements, and modeling should be used to verify environmental benefits or degradation resulting from installation.
Determine the beneficial effects needed to justify the impacts to park natural and cultural resources from project implementation.
Strong public involvement played an important role in developing the environmental assessment of the Pilot Project. The approved FONSI is based on Alternative D, identified as the Preferred Alternative, when it was released for public review and comment between November 5 and December 9, 2008.
Superintendent Kimball is pleased with the outcome of the planning process and the cooperative spirit in which it was developed. “I’m eager to now focus on moving this study forward, to determine whether this strategy will support improving hydrologic conditions within the park. This has been a long term restoration goal of the park and I’m committed to moving toward completing the larger Modified Water Deliveries Project for ENP.”
Key features of the Selected Alternative
The Selected Alternative is an adaptive management strategy comprised of the following elements:
There will be an initial phase of hydrologic modeling to simulate potential effects of the pilot spreader swales. Modeling will be conducted by the NPS in collaboration with the USACE and the South Florida Water Management District.
If the modeling results show no potential hydrologic benefits the pilot spreader swales will not be constructed. If the NPS determines that the potential benefits of the spreader swales would justify their impacts to park resources and the financial costs, the NPS will issue a permit to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorizing construction of two pilot swales.
If constructed, the swale footprints will be aligned parallel to Tamiami Trail and sited to avoid disturbance to wood stork colonies, historic/cultural properties, private property, and tribal residences. A monitoring plan will be implemented to measure hydrologic and ecologic responses from the presence of the spreader swales.
If the pilot spreader swales prove ineffective, rehabilitation of the spreader swale sites will be preformed to return the sites to pre-disturbance conditions. To compensate for the loss of wetland acreage and function, the park will rehabilitate up to 4.3 acres of existing, abandoned roadbeds in the East Everglades Expansion Area.
The FONSI and EA are available through the Everglades National Park website: www.nps.gov/ever. Scroll down to the Spreader Swale element and follow the links to download or view the documents. For more information about the Spreader Swale Pilot Project, contact Dave Sikkema, Project Manager at 305-224-4214 or e-mail us.
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