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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the importance of land acquisition to the success of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Initiative, focusing on: (1) what the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force did to identify and acquire lands needed to accomplish the goals of the initiative from 1996 through 1999; and (2) what the Department of the Interior did to help ensure that it maximized the acreage purchased--that is, bought as much land as possible, with $200 million in Farm Bill grants.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of the Interior To ensure that the lands needed to accomplish the goals of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Initiative are identified and acquired, The Secretary of the Interior, as the Chairperson of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, in conjunction with the other members of the Task Force, should develop a land acquisition plan. This plan would include: (1) an assessment of the lands needed to accomplish each of the goals of the restoration; (2) a description of the purpose for which the lands will be acquired and how they will be managed; (3) an estimate of the cost of these lands; (4) an estimate of when the lands will be needed for related restoration projects; and (5) the agencies responsible for acquiring the lands. This plan should be updated to reflect changes and additions to the restoration initiative's land acquisition needs.
Closed - Implemented
The South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force assigned the task of developing a land acquisition plan to its Working Group. The group issued its land acquisition plan last year and the Task Force approved the plan in February 2003. The plan includes specific references to the requirements GAO laid out in its recommendation and contains elements to meet these requirements.

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