South Florida Ecosystem Restoration:

Substantial Progress Made in Developing a Strategic Plan, but Actions Still Needed

GAO-01-361: Published: Mar 27, 2001. Publicly Released: Mar 27, 2001.

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The South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Initiative is a complex, long-term effort to restore the South Florida ecosystem--including the Everglades--that involves federal, state, local, and tribal entities, as well as public and private interests. In response to growing signs of the ecosystem's deterioration, federal agencies established the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force in 1993 to coordinate ongoing federal activities. The Task Force is charged with coordinating and facilitating the overall restoration effort. The Task Force's strategic plan is a good start. However, because the plan does not contain all the elements that GAO recommended in a previous report, it does not fulfill the requirement placed on the Secretary of the Interior, as the Task Force Chair, by the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations. GAO recognizes that the plan is a "work in progress" and that the Task Force will continue to refine and improve its strategic plan as it learns more about the ecosystem and how the ecosystem is responding to the Task Force's efforts. Revising the plan when it is updated in 2002 to include all the elements would fulfill the Committees' requirement and provide the Task Force with a basis for determining what refinements are needed. It will also help smooth the transitions that will occur as the restoration progresses and the Task Force members are replaced because new and replacement members could more quickly gain an understanding of what is needed to restore the ecosystem.

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