Everglades Restoration Task Force Announcement
Date: Friday, October 27, 2023
HOMESTEAD, Fla. — The Department of the Interior has appointed Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz as Chair of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. This intergovernmental body, created by Congress, brings together federal, state, Tribal, and local governments to protect and restore the Everglades. Assistant Secretary Estenoz, who has 23 years of Everglades experience, is currently visiting Everglades National Park to celebrate the opening of the reconstructed Guy Bradley Visitor Center and the new Flamingo Lodge & Restaurant. During her visit, she will also tour the Flamingo Marina, where the National Park Service (NPS) is working with partners to replace aging infrastructure with a $19.8 million investment from the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA).
“The Interior Department is committed to the collaborative protection and restoration of America’s Everglades. This unique and vast ecosystem, known as the ‘River of Grass,’ is home to Tribal communities, offers habitats for a multitude of species, supplies drinking water for more than nine million people, provides irrigation for agriculture, and is the heart of South Florida’s vibrant tourism and recreation economy,” said Assistant Secretary Estenoz. “I am honored to take on this role as we leverage long-standing Everglades partnerships in Florida as well as the Biden-Harris administration’s historic investments in Everglades restoration to advance the restoration program for the benefit of current and future generations.”
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivers the single largest federal investment in Everglades restoration in U.S. history. Together with the Inflation Reduction Act, these are once-in-a-generation resources for the conservation and stewardship of America’s public lands and waters and to tackle the climate crisis.
Historic Investments in Everglades Restoration
Assistant Secretary Estenoz traveled to Everglades National Park today to highlight these historic investments and to celebrate the reopened Guy Bradley Visitor Center. The former Flamingo Visitor Center was renamed for the first Audubon game warden, who was killed in the line of duty protecting wading birds during the plume hunting era of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The recent renovations incorporate energy efficient features while meeting Florida building code for coastal high hazard zones.
Restoring the Flamingo Marina
The Assistant Secretary also toured the Flamingo Marina where NPS and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are working to repair failing seawall bulkheads, boat ramps, walkways, and aging amenities. Funded by a $19.8 million investment from the GAOA, this project aims to create an optimal visitor experience and improve safety while minimizing potential impacts on natural and cultural resources. Flamingo is one of the most popular areas of the park for visitors and offers a wide range of activities and access to the backcountry and wilderness areas. The Flamingo Marina facilities provide berthing and launching points for concession tour boats, rental fishing and house boats, canoes and kayaks, guided fishing boats, and vessels for park operations.
Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA)
The GAOA established the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund (GAOA LRF), a bipartisan investment that improves visitor experiences, bolsters climate resilience, invests in the economy by creating good-paying jobs, and addresses deferred maintenance in our national parks, wildlife refuges, recreation areas, and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE)-funded schools. Since 2021, GAOA LRF projects have supported an average of 17,000 jobs and generated an average of $1.8 billion for local economies annually. GAOA’s LRF funding sunsets after fiscal year 2025 and would need to be reauthorized by Congress to continue the efforts underway to address significant infrastructure needs across public lands.
The appointment of Assistant Secretary Estenoz as Chair of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force demonstrates the commitment of the Department of the Interior to protect and restore the Everglades. With historic investments and partnerships, including the significant funding from the Great American Outdoors Act, the restoration program is poised to benefit current and future generations. The restoration efforts will not only preserve the unique ecosystem of the Everglades but also support local communities, biodiversity, and the economy of South Florida. Through these initiatives, the Interior Department and its partners are working towards a sustainable future for the Everglades.
Read More of this Story at www.doi.gov – 2023-10-27 19:04:00
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