The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Jacksonville District received a signed Record of Decision for the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands Phase 1 Project in Miami-Dade County, Fla., Sept. 19, 2012. The Record of Decision, signed by Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy, has been transmitted to Congress for authorization.
"The Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands Phase 1 Project has come through important milestones over the past two years," said USACE project manager Tim Brown. "Achieving a signed Record of Decision for this project demonstrates how the Corps is committed to Everglades restoration and has what it takes to execute the program successfully. I'm looking forward to implementing the next phase of this project and turning dirt."
The Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands project is essential to achieving restoration of tidal wetlands and nearshore habitats within Biscayne Bay, including Biscayne National Park. It also has an integral role in meeting the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) system-wide ecosystem restoration goals and objectives.
The project will divert runoff that currently discharges through regional canals and redistribute the freshwater through a spreader canal system into the coastal wetlands adjoining Biscayne Bay to provide a more natural and historic overland flow. The slower, more natural delivery of fresh water over a broad area is expected to reduce hypersaline conditions and re-establish appropriate estuarine salinities that are important to provide nursery habitat for fish and shellfish in tidal wetlands and nearshore bay habitats. This project is expected to create conditions that would be conducive to the re-establishment of oysters and other components typical of a healthy estuarine ecosystem.
The Corps, in cooperation with its co-sponsor, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), completed a Final Project Implementation Report (PIR) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands project in January 2012. This final report describes the project purpose and need, location, evaluation of the alternatives and the recommended plan.
After former Acting Chief of Engineers Maj. Gen. Merdith W.B. Temple signed the Chief of Engineers Report for the project May 2, 2012, the report was submitted to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works for review. The Record of Decision was signed after the Office of Management and Budget provided its review.
The signed Record of Decision, Final PIR/EIS and additional information on the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands project is available online at the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands project page.