Everglades National Park GMP/East Everglades Wilderness Study
National Park Service (NPS) Southeast Regional Director Stan Austin signed the Record of Decision (ROD) on October 23, 2015, approving the General Management Plan / East Everglades Wilderness Study / Environmental Impact Statement (GMP/EEWS/EIS) for Everglades National Park. The plan is designed to better protect and restore critical natural, cultural and wilderness resources and provide improved visitor experiences in the 1.5 million acre park.
The approved plan is identified as the "selected action" in the ROD and as the "NPS preferred alternative" in the Final GMP/EEWS. Project documents including links to the ROD, a separate file with high-resolution maps included in the ROD, and the Final GMP/EEWS are available by clicking the "Document List" in the column to the left.
"This is an important milestone to guide park decisions and priorities for many years to come. The need for the GMP is clear and the public's support in developing the plan will go a long way toward its successful implementation," said Stan Austin.
Park Superintendent Pedro M. Ramos added, "Our mission is clear - protect and improve the resource conditions, and provide for the understanding and enjoyment of this special place. In addition to the ongoing work to restore the Everglades ecosystem, GMP implementation will bring measureable improvements to our fresh- and marine-water environments and enhance opportunities for visitors".
Among the key plan features are: 1) a state-of-the-art marine-waters boater education program, 2) Florida Bay protection with over 140,000 acres of shallow-water zoning to enhance resource protection and an updated boat transit network, 3) an 85,300-acre expansion of the park's Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness in the East Everglades Addition, 4) airboat zones for individual airboats and concession tours consistent with 1989 East Everglades Expansion Act, 5) the 120-mile Everglades Paddling Trail through the park's western backcountry, 6) sustainable redevelopment of the park's Flamingo and Everglades City sites, and 7) re-opening the Joe Bay area for paddling and catch-and-release fishing.
While work may start on some plan elements, Ramos emphasizes, "Implementing the plan will not happen all at once and is likely to take many years, as funds and resources become available. The more complex projects, especially those changing visitor use and access (e.g., boater education program, shallow-water marine zoning, airboat zones), will not start before 2016, and may take several years to complete. Updates will be provided to the public as project details and implementation dates are worked out".
"As I and previous Superintendents that worked on the GMP have said many times, the park truly appreciates the substantial commitment that the public and stakeholders provided throughout the planning effort. We look forward to working closely with the public and partner organizations on the important work we need to accomplish," said Ramos.
Please contact Fred Herling at 305-242-7704.