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State Agency Overseeing Everglades Restoration Balks At Congressionally Mandated Reviews

The Everglades. Photo courtesy the National Parks Conservation Association.
The Everglades. Photo courtesy the National Parks Conservation Association.

The state agency overseeing Everglades restoration is threatening to stop participating in congressionally mandated scientific reviews of its progress.

The South Florida Water Management District says it is considering withdrawing financially from the National Academies of Sciences and seeking scientific guidance elsewhere.

Spokesman Randy Smith says the scientists are overstepping their authority and threatening to slow Everglades restoration by weighing in on budgetary and engineering issues.

"We need to get these projects done, and you can sit and study something until you're blue in the face and not get anything done. What we're saying basically is ..., do your job of scientific review, and let's keep the restoration moving forward."

The scientists' latest report pointed to new findings on climate change and the Everglades and called for a re-evaluation of the restoration effort, the world's largest of its kind ever.

Environmental groups are calling for collaboration.

"It will certainly make the committee members' job a bit more difficult," says Julie Hill-Gabriel of Audubon of Florida, "because the folks who are on the ground day in and day out working on a lot of those issues will not be able to provide the direct insight."

Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.