Final General Management Plan / East Everglades Wilderness Study / Environmental Impact Statement (August 2015)
Dear Friends of Everglades National Park,
Everglades National Park announces the release of its final General Management Plan / East Everglades Wilderness Study / Environmental Impact Statement (GMP/EEWS). I want to express my sincere gratitude for your interest and support in the development of this plan. It is the culmination of a great deal of time, energy, and input from members of the public, other agencies, many organizations, our tribal neighbors, and the National Park Service (NPS). This final GMP/EEWS provides broad guidance for decisions about natural and cultural resource protection, appropriate types and levels of visitor activities, and facility development within the park. Its purpose is to articulate the park's mission, and define the resource conditions and visitor experiences that should be achieved and maintained over time.
During development of the plan the National Park Service conducted extensive civic engagement to identify the issues and concerns to be addressed in the plan. More than 100 public, elected officials, agency, tribal, and stakeholder group meetings were held, and more than 15,000 comments were received on the draft GMP/EEWS alone.
Comments on the draft GMP/EEWS conveyed substantial support for protection of the park's natural and cultural resources, wilderness values, and enhancements to the visitor experiences. Key changes to the preferred alternative reflected in the final GMP/EEWS include: (1) refinements to Florida Bay zoning, covering more than 140,000 acres, to provide more accurate resource-based zones that protect ecological and wilderness values while providing appropriate access to key destinations and across the bay; (2) refinements to the East Everglades Addition frontcountry and backcountry zoning and wilderness proposal to further support ecosystem restoration, resource protection and a wide range of recreation opportunities; (3) on the new 120-mile Everglades Paddling Trail (called the Alternative Wilderness Waterway in the draft plan), zoning was modified to provide peak-season opportunities for enhanced paddling experiences while recognizing the traditional recreational uses of the park's western backcountry; and (4) opening the Joe Bay area to public use for the first time in over 30 years, allowing for paddling and catch-and-release fishing.
The final NPS preferred alternative proposes an addition to the park's Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness of 85,300 acres in the 109,600-acre East Everglades Addition. This includes 42,200 acres as proposed wilderness and 43,100 acres as potential wilderness.
Communication and coordination with the public and many organizations will continue to be critical to successful plan implementation. The park looks forward to working cooperatively with partner agencies, especially the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service; our tribal neighbors; and the numerous individuals and organizations committed to advancing the important initiatives described in the plan.
The final GMP/EEWS including the features of the preferred alternative can be downloaded on this website. A limited number of CD copies and printed copies are available at park headquarters at 40001 State Road 9336, Homestead, FL 33034. For additional information about this plan please contact Fred Herling, supervisory park planner at Fred_Herling@nps.gov or call 305.242.7704.
Following publication of the notice of availability of this document in the Federal Register there will be a 30-day waiting period before the Record of Decision can be signed, concluding the EIS process.
Your input was instrumental in the planning process. The National Park Service values the public's interest in Everglades National Park, and we look forward to implementing the plan with your support and collaboration.
Pedro M. Ramos
Superintendent of Everglades National Park
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