oversight

South Florida Restoration: Task Force Needs to Improve Science Coordination to Increase the Likelihood of Success

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-03-18.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

             United States General Accounting Office

GAO          Report to Subcommittee on Interior and
             Related Agencies, Committee on
             Appropriations, House of
             Representatives

March 2003
             SOUTH FLORIDA
             ECOSYSTEM
             RESTORATION
             Task Force Needs to
             Improve Science
             Coordination to
             Increase the
             Likelihood of Success




GAO-03-345
             a
                                               March 2003


                                               SOUTH FLORIDA ECOSYSTEM
                                               RESTORATION

Highlights of GAO-03-345, a report to the      Task Force Needs to Improve Science
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member,
Subcommittee on Interior and Related           Coordination to Increase the Likelihood
Agencies, Appropriations Committee,
House of Representatives                       of Success


Restoration of the South Florida               From fiscal years 1993 through 2002, federal and state agencies spent
ecosystem is a significant federal             $576 million to conduct mission-related scientific research, monitoring,
and state priority, requiring the              and assessment in support of the restoration of the South Florida ecosystem.
development and use of extensive               Eight federal agencies spent a little less than half of this amount, or
scientific information. GAO was                $273 million. The South Florida Water Management District—the state
asked to report on the funds spent
on scientific activities for
                                               agency most heavily involved in the restoration initiative—spent
restoration, the gaps that exist in            $303 million. With this federal and state funding, agencies made progress in
scientific information, and the                developing information and the adaptive management tools necessary for
extent to which scientific activities          restoration purposes. “Adaptive management” is an approach for improving
are being coordinated.                         resource management that uses models and monitoring as tools to improve
                                               the probability of achieving restoration goals. In particular, scientists state
                                               that they identified the key factors responsible for ecosystem degradation,
                                               such as altered water flow patterns throughout the ecosystem.
In order to improve the
coordination of scientific activities          While scientific understanding of these restoration issues has improved,
for the South Florida ecosystem                significant gaps remain in the scientific information and adaptive
restoration initiative, we
                                               management tools needed, that, if not addressed soon, will hinder the
recommend that the Secretary
of the Interior, as chair of the               success of restoration. Gaps in the development of scientific information,
South Florida Ecosystem                        such as information on the risks of contaminants to plants and animals in the
Restoration Task Force (Task                   ecosystem, may prevent action to address risks to the entire ecosystem or to
Force), clarify the plans and                  one or more of its regions. Gaps are also present in the development of
documents the Science                          adaptive management tools—such as models and a comprehensive
Coordination Team (SCT) needs                  monitoring plan based on key indicators—that allow scientists to assess how
to complete and the time frames                the implementation of restoration projects and plans affect the ecosystem
for completing them, as well as                and whether this implementation is resulting in successful restoration. The
evaluate the SCT’s staff resources             development of these tools is important to allow scientists to track the
and allocate sufficient staff to carry         progress of restoration.
out its responsibilities. We are also
making recommendations to
improve working relations between              Restoration of the South Florida ecosystem is being coordinated and
the Task Force and the SCT.                    facilitated by the Task Force, formed from participating federal, state, and
                                               local agencies and tribal entities. The Task Force is responsible for
In commenting on the draft report,             coordinating scientific activities for restoration, but has yet to establish an
the Department of the Interior                 effective means of doing so, thereby limiting the extent to which restoration
agreed with the premises of our                decisions can be based on sound scientific information. The Task Force
report that scientific activities need         established the SCT to coordinate the science activities of the many agencies
to be coordinated better and that              involved in restoration, but it did not give the SCT clear direction on which
the SCT’s role needs to be clarified.          of the responsibilities were a priority for supporting the Task Force,
Interior said that ultimately the              contributing to the SCT’s inability to accomplish several of its most
Task Force needs to review
and approve actions on
                                               important tasks. Further, unlike other restoration initiatives, the SCT works
GAO’s recommendations.                         as a voluntary group with no full-time and few part-time staff. Recognizing
                                               its resource limitations, the SCT has focused on a few priority
                                               responsibilities. Without first clarifying the responsibilities of the SCT and
www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-03-345.
                                               then providing it sufficient resources to accomplish these responsibilities,
To view the full report, including the scope   the Task Force cannot ensure that scientific activities are being adequately
and methodology, click on the link above.      coordinated, or that key scientific information is available for restoration
For more information, contact Barry Hill at
(202) 512-3841.
                                               decisions.
Contents



Letter                                                                                                   1
                             Results in Brief                                                            3
                             Background                                                                  6
                             Federal and State Agencies Spent $576 Million on Science for the
                               South Florida Ecosystem and Made Progress in Some Areas                  14
                             Gaps in Scientific Information and Adaptive Management Tools
                               Remain—That If Not Addressed, Could Hinder Ongoing
                               Restoration Efforts                                                      24
                             The Task Force Lacks an Effective Means to Coordinate Science
                               Activities                                                               38
                             Conclusions                                                                45
                             Recommendations for Executive Action                                       46
                             Agency Comments and Our Response                                           46


Appendixes
              Appendix I:    Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                         50
             Appendix II:    Expenditures for Federal and State Agencies for the South
                             Florida Ecosystem Restoration                                              52
             Appendix III:   Comments from the Department of the Interior                               54
             Appendix IV:    GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                                      58



Tables                       Table 1: Gaps in Information and the Effects of the Gaps                   25
                             Table 2: Gaps in Information Related to Individual Projects                29
                             Table 3: Gaps in Indicators and Monitoring Plans and
                                      the Effects of the Gaps                                           34
                             Table 4: Gaps in Modeling Tools and the Effects of the Gaps                36
                             Table 5: Expenditures for Federal and State Agencies for the South
                                      Florida Ecosystem Restoration Initiative, Fiscal Years
                                      1993-2002                                                         52
                             Table 6: Expenditures by Federal and State Agencies for Research,
                                      Monitoring, and Assessment Activities, Fiscal Years
                                      1993-2002                                                         53


Figures                      Figure 1: The Everglades—Past, Present, and Future                          7
                             Figure 2: Groups Responsible for Coordination of South Florida
                                       Ecosystem Restoration and Restoration Science                    12




                             Page i                                        GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Contents




Figure 3: Federal Expenditures by Science Activity, Fiscal Years
          1993 through 2002                                                                15
Figure 4: Total Federal Expenditures for Science Activities by
          Amount and Percent, Fiscal Years 1993 through 2002                               16
Figure 5: Percent of District Expenditures for Research,
          Monitoring, and Assessments for Fiscal Years 1993
          through 2002                                                                     21
Figure 6: District Expenditures for Science Activities, Fiscal Years
          1993 through 2002                                                                22
Figure 7: Old World Climbing Fern Smothering Vegetation                                    27
Figure 8: Mangrove Habitat and Ridge and Slough Habitat with
          Tree Islands                                                                     31




Abbreviations

CESI    Critical Ecosystem Studies Initiative
CROGEE Committee on Restoration of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem
RECOVER Restoration Coordination and Verification
SCT     Science Coordination Team
STAR    Science to Achieve Results
WRDA    Water Resources Development Act

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Page ii                                                  GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
A
United States General Accounting Office
Washington, D.C. 20548



                                    March 18, 2003                                                                                Leter




                                    The Honorable Charles H. Taylor
                                    Chairman
                                    The Honorable Norman Dicks
                                    Ranking Minority Member
                                    Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies
                                    Committee on Appropriations
                                    House of Representatives

                                    South Florida, famous for the vast expanse of the Everglades wetlands, is
                                    an 18,000 square mile (about 11.5 million acre) area that includes a broad
                                    range of natural habitats, 6.5 million people, and significant tourist,
                                    agricultural, and other industries. Development of the state’s varied natural
                                    resources has spurred the growth of South Florida’s population and
                                    economy, but at the same time, caused the deterioration of its ecosystem
                                    and its natural areas. Restoration of the South Florida ecosystem has
                                    been a significant federal and state priority throughout the 1990s and into
                                    the new century. While efforts to restore parts of the ecosystem began
                                    earlier, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 1996 formally
                                    established the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force
                                    (Task Force) to coordinate and facilitate the efforts of the many federal,
                                    state, and local agencies and tribes participating in restoration projects.1
                                    The Task Force—with the assistance of a working group formed
                                    of managers from federal, state, local, and tribal entities in South Florida—
                                    has identified the need to achieve three overall goals—improving water,
                                    improving habitat, and making development compatible with the
                                    ecosystem—to help achieve restoration. They have also identified over
                                    200 restoration projects designed to help restore the ecosystem. It will take
                                    as long as 50 years and as much as $15 billion to complete the many related
                                    restoration projects—the ecological effects of which may not be known
                                    until many years thereafter.

                                    Because of the long-term nature and complexity of the initiative, the
                                    Task Force has identified key guiding principles for managing the
                                    restoration initiative and its many related projects. One of these principles
                                    is that decisions about restoration projects and plans will be based on


                                    1
                                     Fifteen federal agencies are involved in restoration; 10 of them fall under 5 departments.
                                    Two Native American tribes, 7 Florida agencies or commissions, 16 counties, and scores of
                                    municipal governments are involved in the effort as well.




                                    Page 1                                                   GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
sound scientific information. Scientific information is an umbrella term
that includes the results of research and monitoring to identify how and
why the ecosystem has been damaged, as well as assessments that
integrate available research and monitoring results to help restoration
managers make decisions about what actions should be taken to help
restore the ecosystem. The Task Force has also adopted a process called
“adaptive management”—an iterative approach for improving resource
management that recognizes that because scientific information is
imperfect and, as decisions are implemented based upon best available
science, a structure must be in place to acquire better information and
adjust the implemented actions accordingly to improve the probability of
achieving the goals of restoration. Such a process requires the development
of key tools—such as models, continued research, and monitoring—to
provide a baseline and periodically track and assess ecosystem health to
provide managers with updated information on the effects of management
actions designed to achieve restoration. By participating in and providing
information for restoration efforts, scientists can help define and measure
the progress of restoration and the success of individual restoration
projects and plans.

To help coordinate the science needed for the restoration initiative, the
Task Force established a Science Coordination Team (SCT) in 1997.2 It gave
the team responsibility for recommending research plans and priorities and
to facilitate the integration, synthesis, and application of the best available
scientific information for restoration. The SCT is comprised of at least
14 members: 7 members of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration
Working Group (Working Group) and 7 scientists from key agencies
participating in the restoration effort. In addition, Working Group members
can nominate additional members to the SCT.

 In this context, you asked us to (1) identify the source and amount of
federal and state funding for scientific activities, the purpose of these
activities, and progress made in gaining scientific information for the
restoration; (2) determine the extent to which gaps exist in key scientific
information and the adaptive management tools needed for restoration;
and (3) assess the process used to coordinate scientific activities and
information central to restoration.


2
 In 1993, the Task Force formed a Science Subgroup; this team was subsequently
reformed as the Science Coordination Team and given a charter with a broad range
of responsibilities.




Page 2                                                 GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
                   Among the efforts undertaken to respond to these objectives, GAO
                   gathered and analyzed funding data for 1993 through 2002 from federal
                   agencies that conduct scientific activities in South Florida and the state’s
                   South Florida Water Management District (District). Because the agencies
                   do not routinely track data by category of science activity, agency officials
                   provided their best estimates of the funds spent in specific science
                   categories. Throughout this report, unless otherwise noted, all years are
                   fiscal years, rather than calendar years.3 GAO also analyzed documents
                   related to 10 key restoration projects and plans. The projects and plans
                   were selected based on their cost (the majority could cost over
                   $100 million), the diversity and extent of geographic areas they affect, and
                   the status of their implementation. Because the projects are a subset of the
                   more than 200 restoration projects, the analysis is not meant to be
                   generalized to the remaining projects. GAO further analyzed the SCT
                   charter and other documents and examined other similar restoration
                   efforts, such as the effort to restore natural areas around San Francisco
                   Bay in California and Chesapeake Bay. GAO’s scope and methodology is
                   more fully discussed in appendix I.



Results in Brief   From 1993 through 2002, federal and state agencies spent $576 million to
                   conduct mission-related scientific research, monitoring, and assessment in
                   support of the restoration of the South Florida ecosystem. Eight federal
                   agencies spent a little less than half of this amount, or $273 million. The
                   Department of the Interior, the largest federal participant, spent about
                   $139 million, the majority of which it directed toward research, such as
                   studying how federal lands would be affected by changing water levels. The
                   South Florida Water Management District—the state agency most heavily
                   involved in the restoration initiative—spent $303 million. One major focus
                   of the District’s work has been Everglades and Florida Bay research,
                   including efforts to develop different techniques to improve water quality
                   in the ecosystem. With this federal and state funding, agencies have made
                   progress in developing information and the adaptive management tools
                   necessary for restoration purposes. In particular, scientists state that they
                   have identified the key factors responsible for ecosystem degradation, such
                   as altered water flow patterns throughout the ecosystem. For example,
                   using systemwide models, scientists have a better understanding of the


                   3
                    Throughout this report, unless otherwise noted, dollars have been adjusted to fiscal year
                   2002 dollars. Further, the fiscal year for federal agencies and the South Florida Water
                   Management District runs from October through September.




                   Page 3                                                    GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
amount and distribution of water in the ecosystem both before and after it
was altered by drainage. From this information, scientists have been better
able to evaluate alternatives for managing the water in the ecosystem and
have identified actions that can be taken to restore the amounts and
distribution of water to more closely reflect natural conditions.

While scientific understanding of these restoration issues has improved,
significant gaps remain in the scientific information and adaptive
management tools needed for restoration, that, if not addressed soon, will
hinder the success of restoration. The gaps in the development of scientific
information may prevent action to address risks to the entire ecosystem or
to one or more of its regions. One such gap is the lack of information
regarding the amount and risk of contaminants, such as fertilizers and
pesticides, in water throughout the entire ecosystem. If this information is
not available, scientists cannot determine whether fish and other
organisms are being harmed by these contaminants or whether the
redistribution of water will introduce potentially harmful contaminants to
parts of the ecosystem that are relatively undisturbed. Lacking this
information, scientists and managers do not know whether they are
constructing a specific restoration project that could increase the harm to
plants and animals that live in the ecosystem. Gaps are also present in the
adaptive management tools—such as models and a comprehensive
monitoring plan based on key indicators—that allow scientists to assess
how the implementation of restoration projects and plans affect the
ecosystem and whether this implementation is resulting in successful
restoration. The development of these tools for the adaptive management
approach is important to allow scientists to track the progress or success
of restoration and identify when changes are needed in restoration projects
and plans to ensure that restoration goals are achieved.

The Task Force is responsible for coordinating scientific activities for
restoration, but has yet to establish an effective means of doing so, thereby
limiting the extent to which restoration decisions can be based on sound
scientific information. The Task Force established the SCT in 1997 to
coordinate the science activities of the many agencies involved in
restoration. The Task Force charged the SCT with a variety of
responsibilities, such as identifying gaps, recommending research plans
and priorities to fill those gaps, ensuring the development of monitoring
plans, and synthesizing scientific information for the Task Force. Best
practices for effective coordination and management require the
development of plans within specific time frames; however, since the
creation of the SCT nearly 6 years ago, the Task Force has not yet specified



Page 4                                          GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
the requirements for the plans the SCT is expected to produce. Task Force
officials indicated they were focused on getting approval of a key plan to
improve water amounts and distribution in the ecosystem. Furthermore,
unlike other restoration initiatives, the SCT works essentially as a
voluntary group with no full-time and few part-time staff. Recognizing its
resource limitations, the SCT has focused on a few priority responsibilities,
such as sponsoring science conferences on restoration topics, and has set
aside other important responsibilities, including development of a science
plan and a comprehensive monitoring plan. In 2000, the SCT reported to the
Task Force that it could not carry out all of its broad responsibilities given
its limited resources. After nearly 3 years, the Task Force has not yet fully
addressed the SCT’s concerns. Without first clarifying the responsibilities
of the SCT and then providing it sufficient resources to accomplish these
responsibilities, the Task Force cannot ensure that scientific activities are
adequately coordinated or that key scientific information is available for
restoration decisions.

Because multiple federal and state agencies are involved in scientific
activities for restoration and scientific information and adaptive
management tools are critical to inform decision making for South Florida
restoration, we are recommending that the Secretary of the Interior, as
chair of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, clarify the
broad responsibilities of the SCT. In addition, we are recommending that
once SCT responsibilities are clarified, the Task Force and Working Group
should evaluate the SCT’s staffing needs, ensuring that the SCT has
sufficient resources to carry out its responsibilities.

In responding to a draft of our report, the Secretary of the Interior—who
acts as chair of the Task Force—agreed with the premises of our report
that scientific information needs to be coordinated better and that the
SCT’s responsibilities need to be clarified. The Secretary stated that action
on the specific recommendations that we made ultimately needed to be
discussed and agreed to by the members of the Task Force. The Secretary
agreed to bring these recommendations up for discussion at the next
meeting of the Task Force.




Page 5                                           GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Background   The South Florida ecosystem is an 18,000 square-mile area extending from
             the Chain of Lakes and the Kissimmee River through Lake Okeechobee to
             the coastal areas of the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers, Florida Bay,
             Biscayne Bay, and the Florida Keys. Included in this area are the
             Everglades, Big Cypress National Preserve, and the only living coral reef in
             North America. Before human intervention, freshwater flowed south from
             Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay in a broad, slow-moving sheet. The
             quantity and timing of the water’s flow depended on rainfall patterns and
             on slow releases of water stored naturally in the ecosystem. Even during
             dry seasons, water stored throughout the ecosystem supplied water to the
             wetlands and coastal areas. Although these lands were—and still are—
             largely sustained by water and contain a mix of wetland vegetation, they
             also include important dry land areas called uplands with woody
             vegetation. Before it was altered by development, the ecosystem provided
             habitat for many species of wading birds and other wildlife, including
             Woodstorks, Roseate spoonbills, manatees, the American crocodile, and
             the American alligator—all of which depended on the natural pattern of
             water flow. Dry lands provided habitat for many other types of species,
             including bald eagles, indigo snakes, and the Key deer and rabbit.

             The South Florida ecosystem is also home to 6.5 million people and
             supports a large economy of agriculture, tourism, and industry. South
             Florida’s wetlands were first developed for agriculture and industry in the
             late 1800s, but more extensive efforts were required to store water for
             severe droughts, such as those that occurred in the 1930s, and to protect
             the area from drenching hurricanes, such as those that occurred in the late
             1940s. In 1948, Congress authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to
             build the Central and Southern Florida Project—a system of more than
             1,700 miles of canals and levees and 16 major pump stations—to prevent
             flooding and intrusion of saltwater into freshwater aquifers on the Atlantic
             coast. The project, which was constructed mostly in the 1950s and 1960s,
             reduced the natural north-south flow of water in the ecosystem and created
             an east-west flow to support agricultural and urban development. The
             engineering changes that resulted from the project and subsequent
             agricultural, industrial, and urban development reduced the Everglades
             ecosystem to about half its original size, causing detrimental effects to
             wildlife habitats and water quality. The loss of habitats has caused sharp
             declines in native plant and animal populations, placing many native
             species at risk. Figure 1 shows the historic and current flows of the
             Everglades ecosystem as well as the proposed restored flow.




             Page 6                                          GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Figure 1: The Everglades—Past, Present, and Future




                                                     Location of the restoration initiative




                    Past flow                                       Present flow                                 Future flow

                    In the past, water flowed in a broad sheet      Canals of the Central and Southern           In the future, water will be stored and sent
                    south from Lake Okeechobee to Florida           Florida project drain to the east and west   south and southwest to South Florida's
                    Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Water also          coasts. Water in these canals does not       remaining natural areas.
                    crossed the coastal ridge to Biscayne Bay.      drain to Florida Bay, and thus the bay has
                                                                    reduced water flows.




Source: South Florida Water Management District.




                                                             Page 7                                                                GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Beginning in the late 1980s, the federal government began a series of
actions to restore the South Florida ecosystem. In the Water Resources
Development Act of 1992, Congress directed the Corps of Engineers to
review various reports on the Central and Southern Florida Project to
determine whether the project could be changed to improve the South
Florida ecosystem. In 1993, to coordinate the Corps’ effort and the input of
other federal agencies that had an interest in the review, the federal
agencies participating in the restoration established a South Florida
Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. Congress formally created this Task
Force in the WRDA of 1996, which also expanded it to include state, local,
and tribal members and designated the Secretary of the Interior as the
group’s chair. One of the duties of the Task Force is to develop consistent
policies, strategies, plans, priorities, and actions for restoring the South
Florida ecosystem. Finally, the Corps’ review resulted in the
Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, which Congress approved as
a plan for restoration in the WRDA of 2000. As shown in figure 1, the plan
will attempt to reverse much of the flow of water back to a more historic
north-south pattern.

The Task Force established the following three overall goals for achieving
restoration:

• Get the water right: restore more natural hydrologic functions to the
  ecosystem while providing adequate water supplies and flood control.
  The goal is to deliver the right amount of water, of the right quality, to
  the right places at the right times.

• Restore, protect, and preserve the natural system: restore lost and
  altered habitats and change current land use patterns. Growth and
  development have displaced and disconnected natural habitats. In
  addition, the spread of invasive species have caused sharp declines in
  native plant and animal populations. Currently, 69 native plant and
  animal species, which are native to the ecosystem, have been federally
  listed as threatened or endangered.4




4
 Sixty-eight of these species were listed by the Fish and Wildlife Service and one was listed
by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.




Page 8                                                     GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
• Foster the compatibility of the built and natural systems: find
  development patterns that are complementary to ecosystem
  restoration and with a restored natural system. The goal is to achieve
  (1) development practices that limit habitat fragmentation and support
  conservation; (2) flood-protection and water supplies that are
  maintained at current levels (and may be augmented); (3) quality of life
  that includes clean air and water suitable for fishing, drinking, and
  swimming; (4) land planning and other planning that enhances and
  preserves the natural system; and (5) agricultural and urban practices
  that do not damage the ecosystem by improper disposal of wastewater.

These three overall goals are expected to be accomplished as a result of
implementation of over 200 different projects and plans that, collectively,
the Task Force believes will restore the ecosystem to conditions as close as
possible to those that existed prior to the construction of the Central and
Southern Florida Project.5 While some of these 200 projects and plans have
been initiated, many more projects and plans are just beginning to be
implemented. For example, the first goal, getting the water right, will be
accomplished in part by the construction of 55 projects that will modify the
Central and Southern Florida Project to enlarge the region’s freshwater
supply and to improve the delivery of water to natural areas.6 Ten of the
projects and several pilot projects, which were authorized in the WRDA
of 2000, are now in the planning stages. In addition, the Corps and the
State of Florida are developing a Comprehensive Integrated Water
Quality Feasibility Study to identify ongoing water quality efforts and
to identify actions that will be needed to improve water quality for
restoration purposes.

The second restoration goal—restoring, protecting, and preserving the
natural system—will be accomplished through restoring natural
hydropatterns and through the implementation of the Fish and Wildlife
Service’s South Florida Multi-Species Recovery Plan (a plan to help restore
habitats and species); land acquisition plans by federal, state, and local

5
 The irreversible physical changes made to the ecosystem make restoration to pristine
conditions impossible. The restored Everglades will be smaller and somewhat differently
arranged than the historic ecosystem.
6
 The original number of components in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan
was 68; the Corps and the District have reorganized the components to group those that are
logically connected. For example, components around Lake Okeechobee have been
combined into one project. The number of projects may continue to change for reasons of
efficiency and sequencing of projects.




Page 9                                                  GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
agencies; and the Task Force’s strategy to assist agencies in controlling
invasive species. The third goal—fostering the compatibility of the built
and natural systems—will be achieved largely through the coordination of
state and local land and water supply planning. This goal involves such
efforts as improving comprehensive planning and growth management;
continued acquisition, protection, and linkage of park, recreation, and open
space; developing sustainable agriculture, such as applying best
management practices to remove nutrients from agricultural water that
runs off of the land and into canals, rivers, and ultimately freshwater and
coastal wetlands and the ocean; and maintaining or improving flood
protection service.

One of the Task Force’s principles for accomplishing restoration is to use
scientific information to guide restoration decisions. Science refers to
several different disciplines—biology, chemistry, geology, hydrology,
ecology, and social sciences—all of which play a role in providing scientific
information for restoration. Scientific information can be the results of
research and monitoring, or assessments that integrate available research
and monitoring results, such as the environmental assessments that
agencies are required to conduct under the National Environmental Policy
Act. Scientific research involves conducting “cause and effect”
experiments, either through field or laboratory studies that investigate the
cause of specific natural conditions. The development of mathematical
models to simulate various ecosystem functions is also a type of research,
although models can also be used to help scientists assess ecosystem
conditions. Monitoring provides information developed from physical
observation or samples of a resource—for example, a water sample or a
bird count—over a period of time, which allows the identification of trends
that may occur in that resource over time.

Because of the complexity of the ecosystem and efforts underway to
restore it, and the urgency to begin the long-term ecosystem restoration
effort, not all of the scientific information that is needed is available to
make restoration decisions. As a result, scientists will continually need to
develop information and restoration decision makers will continually need
to review it. According to the Task Force, scientists participating in
restoration are expected to identify and determine what information is
needed to fill gaps in scientific knowledge critical to meeting restoration
objectives and provide managers with updated scientific information for
critical restoration decisions. Generally, decisions about restoration
projects and plans have been—and will continue to be—made by the
agencies participating in the restoration initiative. To provide these



Page 10                                         GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
managers—as well as its own members—with updated scientific
information, the Task Force endorsed the use of a process called adaptive
management, which involves the (1) development of performance
indicators of the key factors causing the ecosystem to be degraded and the
key ecosystem characteristics to be restored; (2) a long-term monitoring
plan to track the status and trends in measures and indicators, research to
help understand factors that affect measures and indicators, and
assessment of monitoring and research data to determine whether
restoration actions are successful; and (3) feedback so that managers will
know what management changes may be needed.

The SCT is the primary group responsible for coordinating agency science
activities—to address information gaps and the adaptive management
process. As the restoration initiative has progressed, the Task Force and
participating agencies have created other groups with science coordination
responsibilities, although these groups are more narrowly focused than the
SCT (see fig. 2).7




7
 The Task Force and Working Group have also incorporated three regional science groups
that have been created to coordinate research on particular regions of the ecosystem. These
groups are modeled after the Florida Bay Program Management Committee, which
coordinates scientific research for the unique area that includes Florida Bay, a triangular
estuary bounded by the mangroves in Everglades National Park, the Florida Keys, and the
Gulf of Mexico that receives water that drains from the Everglades.




Page 11                                                  GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Figure 2: Groups Responsible for Coordination of South Florida Ecosystem Restoration and Restoration Science


      Groups responsible
                                 Task Force
      for coordinating
      overall                    Department of the Interior           Florida Governor's office
      restoration                Department of the Army               Florida Department of Environmental
                                 Department of Agriculture              Protection
                                 Department of Commerce               South Florida Water Management
                                 Environmental Protection Agency        District
                                 Department of Justice                Miccosukee Tribe of Florida
                                 Department of Transportation         Seminole Tribe of Florida
                                                                      Two local government
                                                                       representatives


                                 Working Group
                                 National Park Service                 Florida Governor's office
                                 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service        Florida Department of
                                 U.S. Geological Survey                 Environmental Protection
                                 Bureau of Indian Affairs              South Florida Water Management
                                 Corps of Engineers                     District
                                 Agricultural Research Service         Florida Fish and Wildlife
                                 Natural Resources Conservation         Conservation Commission
                                  Service                              Florida Department of Community
                                 National Marine Fisheries Service      Affairs
                                 Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric     Florida Department of Agriculture
                                  Research                              and Consumer Affairs
                                 National Ocean Service                Florida Dept. of Transportation
                                 Environmental Protection Agency       Representatives of local gov. or
                                 Department of Justice                  regional planning councils
                                 Federal Highway Administration        Miccosukee and Seminole Tribes of
                                 Federal Transit Authority              Florida
                                 Dept. Housing and Urban Dev.          Other members as designated


            Groups
                                                                                                                     Comprehensive        Invasive            Threatened
            responsible           Science Coordination Team                                                          Everglades           species team:       and
            for restoration
                                 7 Working Group members                                                             Restoration                              endangered
            science                                                                                                                       Noxious Exotic
                                 7 scientists from Working Group agencies                                            Plan                                     species team:
                                                                                                                     teams:               Weeds Task
                                 Additional members as designated by Working Group members                                                Team chaired by:    Multi-Species
                                                                                                                     RECOVER and                              Ecosystem
                                                                                                                     Project Delivery     Department of
                                                                                                                                          the Interior,       Recovery
                                                                                                                     Teams led by:                            Implementation
                                                                                                                                          Corps of
                                                                                                                     South Florida        Engineers,          Team led by:
                                                                                                                     Water                and Water           U.S. Fish and
                                                                                                                     Management           Management          Wildlife Service,
                                                                                                                     District and         District            Department of
                                                                                                                     Army Corps of                            the Interior
                                                                                                                     Engineers



                                     The Science Coordination Team, which reports to the Working Group, is the only entity with broad responsibility for coordinating science for
                                     the entire restoration initiative. Most of the SCT agencies also have responsibility for conducting restoration science.
                                     Several multiagency teams have specific responsibilities for coordinating science for different aspects of restoration, such as invasive
                                     species. These teams and agencies have other restoration responsibilities as well.
                       Italic bold signifies that this entity leads a team coordinating at least one aspect of science for restoration.

Source: Task Force (documents), GAO (presentation).




                                                                Page 12                                                                    GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
As part of the implementation of the Comprehensive Everglades
Restoration Plan, the Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water
Management District established the Restoration Coordination and
Verification (RECOVER) program to assess, monitor, and evaluate progress
in implementing the plan. As part of this responsibility, the RECOVER
program is to ensure that scientific information is available to make
decisions on the effect of the plan on the ecosystem. In addition, the Corps
and the local sponsor plan to establish a Project Delivery Team for each of
the 55 restoration projects that they will construct. Each team can include
scientists from other agencies for the purposes of identifying scientific
information that is relevant to the design of the project and to identify
information that is not available and needs to be developed. To carry out
the Multi-Species Recovery Plan, the Fish and Wildlife Service created a
multiagency, multiparty implementation team called the Multi-Species
Ecosystem Recovery Implementation Team, which is responsible for
identifying and prioritizing actions that can be taken to help recover
species that are threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered
Species Act. To coordinate and implement scientific information on
invasive species, the Task Force created a team called the Noxious Exotic
Weed Task Team and plans to create a second team, called the Noxious
Exotic Animal Task Team, to address invasive animals.

In addition to these teams, the Task Force worked with the National
Academy of Sciences to form the Committee on Restoration of the Greater
Everglades Ecosystem (CROGEE), which is responsible for providing the
Task Force with independent scientific and technical reviews for several
elements of the restoration, including restoration of marine areas and
ecological indicators. The CROGEE existed prior to the passage of WRDA
2000, which authorizes the creation of an independent scientific group that
will review progress toward achieving the goals of the Comprehensive
Everglades Restoration Plan and that will assess and report to Congress on
the ecological indicators and other measures of progress in the plan. The
Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Governor of
Florida plan to jointly establish the independent scientific review
provisions of WRDA 2000 by entering into a 5-year contract with the
Academy of Sciences.




Page 13                                        GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Federal and State             Federal and state agencies spent $576 million from fiscal years 1993
                              through 2002 to conduct mission-related scientific research, monitoring,
Agencies Spent                and assessment in support of the restoration of the South Florida
$576 Million on               ecosystem. Eight federal departments and agencies spent $273 million for
                              science activities, with the Department of the Interior spending
Science for the               $139 million (50 percent) of the funds.8 Federal expenditures, which
South Florida                 increased by more than 34 percent from 1996 through 1997, have remained
Ecosystem and                 relatively constant since. The South Florida Water Management District—
                              the state agency most heavily involved in scientific activities for
Made Progress in              restoration—spent $303 million during the same period. The state’s
Some Areas                    expenditures increased steadily from 1993, with significant increases in
                              2000 and 2002. The federal and state funds have helped scientists make
                              progress in developing scientific information and adaptive management
                              tools related to the first goal of restoration—getting the water right. A
                              detailed table of the funding by federal and state agencies since 1993 is
                              presented in appendix II.



Federal Agencies Spent        Eight agencies spent a total of $273 million to develop scientific
$273 Million on Science for   information for the South Florida ecosystem since 1993. The agencies
                              involved in scientific activities for the restoration are the Department of
the Restoration Initiative
                              Interior’s National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Fish and Wildlife
                              Service, and Bureau of Indian Affairs; the Department of Commerce’s
                              National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the Department of
                              Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service; the Department of the Army’s
                              Corps of Engineers; and the Environmental Protection Agency. The
                              agencies’ expenditures for research, monitoring, and assessment are
                              provided in detail in appendix II. Echoing the increased federal attention to
                              restoration efforts, federal expenditures for science activities—which
                              include research, monitoring, and assessments—rose from $9 million in
                              1993 to $34 million in 1997 and have remained relatively steady since
                              (see fig. 3).




                              8
                               Although 15 federal agencies participate in the restoration initiative, 8 of these agencies are
                              involved in scientific activities.




                              Page 14                                                     GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Figure 3: Federal Expenditures by Science Activity, Fiscal Years 1993 through 2002

40     Dollars in millions


35


30


25


20


15


10


 5


 0

       1993         1994         1995        1996   1997   1998      1999     2000    2001    2002
       Fiscal year
                  Research
                  Monitoring
                  Assessments
                  Total
Source: Federal agencies (data), GAO (analysis).

Note: All dollars have been adjusted to fiscal year 2002 dollars.


Federal agencies spent $166 million (61 percent) on research activities,
$64 million (23 percent) on monitoring activities, and almost $43 million
(16 percent) on assessment activities from 1993 through 2002. As shown
in figure 3, expenditures have increased since 1993, with a jump in
expenditures in 1997. The jump resulted from an increase in funding
provided for research activities by Interior and the Corps. That year,
Interior began funding its Critical Ecosystem Studies Initiative (CESI),
a program designed to accelerate the development of scientific
information associated with areas of importance to Interior, such as
Everglades National Park. In the same year, the Corps increased its
spending on research for a few key water projects designed to provide
restoration benefits.




Page 15                                                             GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Interior Spent Half of the Federal                         The Department of the Interior spent half of the total federal funds
Funds Designated for Science                               expended for science activities for restoration. Figure 4 shows the total
Activities                                                 amount and percent of funds spent by the 8 federal agencies for science
                                                           activities from 1993 through 2002.



Figure 4: Total Federal Expenditures for Science Activities by Amount and Percent, Fiscal Years 1993 through 2002

           Agriculture (ARS)
             ($35 million)

                                                      •
                                                     13%
                                                                                                                                      USGS
     EPA                                                                                                                          27% ($77 million)
  ($25 million)
                                      •
                                          9%
                                                                                            Interior
                                                                 50% •                   ($139 million)
  Army (Corps)                             14%                                                                                         NPS
  ($37 million)                       •
                                                                                                                                  18% ($48 million)

                                                     14%
                                                                                                                                        FWS
                                                      •                                                                            4% ($10 million)

                                                                                                                                         BIA
           Commerce (NOAA)                                                                                                          1% ($3 million)
             ($37 million)
  Source: Federal agencies (data), GAO (analysis).

                                                           Note: Total federal expenditures for science activities for fiscal years 1993 through 2002 equaled
                                                           $273 million. Individual dollar figures and percentages may not total because of rounding. All dollars
                                                           have been adjusted to fiscal year 2002 dollars.


                                                           Four agencies in the Interior Department—the U.S. Geological Survey,
                                                           National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Indian
                                                           Affairs—were responsible for $139 million or more than 50 percent of
                                                           federal funding for science activities for South Florida. The U.S. Geological
                                                           Survey spent $77 million—the most of any federal agency—primarily on its
                                                           Placed-Based Studies Program, which provides information, data, and
                                                           models to other agencies to support decisions for ecosystem restoration




                                                           Page 16                                                          GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
and management.9 The U.S. Geological Survey focused the program on the
following five scientific areas

• the historic ecosystem—how it functioned and its plants and animals;

• the hydrological models that describe water flow through the
  Everglades, both above and below ground;

• the ecological models that determine the effect of altered water flow on
  several individual species, such as the Cape Sable seaside sparrow and
  the Florida panther (both federally listed endangered species);

• the mapping of the physical features of the natural system; and

• the effects of contaminants, such as mercury, on biological, geological,
  and chemical processes in the Everglades.

In addition, U.S. Geological Survey also supports a Web site that
provides access to the reports, publications, and data that it produces for
restoration.

One example of the research conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey is a
study in Florida Bay using clamshells to determine the age of sediment
and to further determine the salinity of the bay in corresponding periods.
The data and information collected from this study provide an ecological
history of Florida Bay and can be linked to historical rainfall data. This
allows scientists to determine the historical range of salinity for
different parts of the bay, which can in turn be used to establish the
amounts of freshwater flow from the mainland that would best recreate
those conditions.




9
 The U.S. Geological Survey’s Placed-Based Studies Program was established to provide
sound science for resource managers in critical ecosystems such as South Florida.




Page 17                                                GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
After the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service spent
the second largest amount of funds within Interior and the federal
government—about $48 million. The National Park Service spent the
funds for its CESI program, begun in 1997 to accelerate research needed to
provide scientific information for the restoration initiative. Because two
particular Corps water projects are expected to provide restoration results
within the next few years for public lands such as Everglades National Park
and others, the National Park Service focused the CESI program on
conducting research and gathering information to understand the
potential effects of these projects, funding hydrologic modeling, ecological
modeling, ecological processes, and water quality studies in the project
areas.10 The largest portion of CESI funding has been spent on research
to characterize the predrainage ecosystem and to define the current
conditions of the ecosystem. CESI funding has also been spent on
identifying indicators for monitoring the success of restoration of
Everglades National Park, other parks and public lands, and on
developing models and tools to assess the effects of water projects on
these natural lands.11

The Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs spent the
remainder of Interior’s funds, about $10 million and $3 million respectively.
The Fish and Wildlife Service spent the majority of its funds to develop the
Multi-Species Recovery Plan, which documents the actions needed to help
recover 68 of the federally listed species in South Florida.12 The Bureau
distributed its funds to the Miccosukee and Seminole Tribes of Florida—
whose lands are located within the ecosystem—for the tribes to conduct
research and to plan for water quality and distribution systems on their
tribal lands.




10
 These projects—the Canal 111 (C-111) and Modified Water Delivery projects—are under
construction and are designed to improve the flow of water into the eastern part of
Everglades National Park.
11
   In addition, a small portion of CESI funds has supported restoration management and
planning efforts, including support for the CROGEE.
12
 Although there are 69 threatened and endangered species in South Florida, the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service is solely
responsible for one species, Johnson’s seagrass, which is not included in the Multi-Species
Recovery Plan. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also shares the
responsibility, with the Fish and Wildlife Service, for five different species of sea turtles, all
of which are included in the Multi-Species Recovery Plan.




Page 18                                                       GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Both the Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration spent approximately $37 million each, primarily on
research activities. The Corps focused its $37 million on developing and
running models for water projects that it is building for Everglades
restoration. For example, the Corps has used hydrological models to
examine many different alternative configurations for the C-111 project
near the eastern boundary of Everglades National Park. The National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration focused its $37 million on
research activities such as studying the conditions of coastal and ocean
areas surrounding South Florida. One major use of this research is to
determine the effect of inland restoration efforts and changing freshwater
flow on Florida Bay and its habitats. For example, the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration is conducting research that will enable
scientists to understand environmental problems such as the die-off of
seagrass in Florida Bay and the deterioration of mangroves along the
southern coast of Florida.

Two other federal agencies—the Agricultural Research Service and the
Environmental Protection Agency—spent the remaining $60 million in
federal funds. The Agricultural Research Service used a portion of its
$35 million to conduct research on biological control and management of
invasive pest plant species in South Florida. In particular, the agency
focused its research on identifying and collecting natural enemies for
development of biological controls of Melaleuca—a hardy, fast-growing
invasive tree imported from Australia that overruns natural vegetation in
the ecosystem. In addition, the Agricultural Research Service spent some of
its funds on developing strains of water-tolerant sugar cane in an effort to
make agriculture more compatible with the higher water levels expected
with restoration actions and has also developed hydrological models for
agricultural lands in South Dade County that will be most affected by
restoration actions. In contrast, the Environmental Protection Agency
spent most of its $25 million on monitoring the conditions of seagrass, the
Florida Keys coral reef, and water quality in the Florida Keys National
Marine Sanctuary. The Environmental Protection Agency has also
conducted research on the sources and distribution of mercury
contamination in the ecosystem.13

13
 Not included under the Environmental Protection Agency are its Clean Water Act grants
and its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grants, which total approximately $13 million and
$10 million, respectively. The agency’s Clean Water Act grants are provided for ecosystem
research, monitoring, and assessments of water quality. Some of the agency’s STAR grants
are provided for ecosystem research in South Florida.




Page 19                                                  GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
                             In addition to conducting scientific activities, some federal agencies
                             provide grants to universities to conduct scientific activities related to
                             restoration in South Florida. For example, CESI has granted money to the
                             University of Florida to support a monitoring program for the American
                             crocodile in Everglades National Park to help study the animal as an
                             indicator of ecosystem health for restoration. Other entities, such as the
                             National Science Foundation, also provide grants for science in South
                             Florida.14 For example, the foundation has funded the Florida Coastal
                             Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research Program through Florida
                             International University to ensure long-term funding for ecosystem
                             research in South Florida. The study has received $700,000 annually since
                             2000 and will continue to receive this much per year for a total of 6 years;
                             the grant will be reviewed every 6 years for renewal of funding.15

                             While total expenditures for federal agencies’ science activities generally
                             increased over the past 10 years, some agencies’ expenditures decreased.
                             For example, expenditures by the Environmental Protection Agency
                             decreased from $4.4 million in 1998 to approximately $816,000 in 2002
                             (approximately 80 percent). The agency’s expenditures decreased due to
                             the discontinuation of funding for its monitoring program—the South
                             Florida Regional Ecosystem Monitoring and Assessment Program—as well
                             as some of its mercury contamination research programs.



Key State Agency Has Spent   In addition to the $273 million spent by federal agencies for science-related
$303 Million on Scientific   activities, the State of Florida’s South Florida Water Management District
                             provided $303 million for such activities from 1993 to 2002. The District
Activities for the
                             spent much of its funding on scientific activities related to water projects in
Restoration Initiative       line with its major responsibility to manage and operate the Central and
                             Southern Florida Project and water resources in the ecosystem. The
                             District spent nearly half of its science funding—$141 million—on


                             14
                              We did not obtain total funding dollars on the amount of grants being given by the National
                             Science Foundation in South Florida because the National Science Foundation tracks its
                             grants by scientific discipline—such as geography, biology, ecology, or environmental
                             engineering—not by the geographical region in which the work in being conducted.
                             15
                              Base funding for the Long-Term Ecological Research Program is $700,000 per year for
                             6 years. In addition, participating programs have the opportunity to apply every year for
                             supplemental funding for educational programs and equipment. These supplements average
                             approximately $50,000 per year. The Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological
                             Research Program has received approximately an additional $50,000 per year funding from
                             the National Science Foundation since its inception in 2000.




                             Page 20                                                   GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
monitoring activities including water quality monitoring for which the
District is responsible (see fig. 5).



Figure 5: Percent of District Expenditures for Research, Monitoring, and
Assessments for Fiscal Years 1993 through 2002




Assessments                                                                           Research
($81 million)                             •                 •                       ($81 million)
                                           27%            27%




                                                   46%
                                                    •

                                                                       Monitoring
                                                                     ($141 million)
Source: Federal agencies (data), GAO (analysis).

Note: Total District expenditures for science activities for fiscal years 1993 through 2002 equaled
$303 million. Because the South Florida Water Management District does not routinely track funds by
these three categories of science activities, District officials provided their best estimates of the funds
spent in these categories. All dollars have been adjusted to fiscal year 2002 dollars.


The District spent over a quarter—$81 million—of its funding on
assessments of the ecosystem related to water projects in South Florida,
such as the C-111 project. It spent the same amount on research activities,
including efforts to develop different techniques to improve water quality
in the ecosystem and hydrologic modeling. For example, the District spent
approximately $34 million to conduct research on advanced treatment
technologies and on the optimization of storm water treatment areas, all of
which are systems that remove nutrients such as phosphorus from urban
and agricultural storm water runoff that flows into natural areas including
Everglades National Park.

The District’s total annual expenditures for science activities, like total
federal expenditures, have increased steadily since 1993. The District’s




Page 21                                                            GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
total expenditures for scientific activities rose from $19 million in 1993 to
$46 million in 2002, with two funding increases in 2000 and 2002 (see fig. 6).



Figure 6: District Expenditures for Science Activities, Fiscal Years 1993 through
2002

50    Dollars in millions

45

40

35

30

25

20

15

10

 5

 0

      1993         1994         1995         1996   1997   1998      1999       2000       2001      2002
      Fiscal year
                  Research
                  Monitoring
                  Assessments
                  Total
Source: Federal agencies (data), GAO (analysis).


Note: Because the South Florida Water Management District does not routinely track funds by these
three categories of science activities, District officials provided their best estimates of the funds spent
in these categories. All dollars have been adjusted to fiscal year 2002 dollars.


In 2000, the District spent more funds on assessments and monitoring
related to actions it took to help restore Lake Okeechobee by lowering its
water levels and on continued monitoring associated with historic drought
conditions. In addition, the District spent additional funds on increased
monitoring of storm water treatment areas. The 2002 increase resulted in
part from ongoing implementation of its Everglades restoration projects
and special appropriations received from the state for Lake Okeechobee
and estuary restoration initiatives.




Page 22                                                            GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Federal and State Agencies   Federal and state agencies used their funds to make progress in developing
Made Progress in             scientific information and adaptive management tools. In particular,
                             scientists made progress in understanding historic and current
Developing Information and   hydrological conditions and developed tools that allow them to forecast the
Tools for Restoration        effects of water management alternatives on the ecosystem. Specifically,
Purposes                     scientists developed hydrological models that provide a picture of the
                             amount, timing, and distribution of water in the ecosystem before and after
                             it was altered by drainage. These models were used to assess alternative
                             configurations for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. The
                             information and models developed will help achieve the first restoration
                             goal, which is to get the quantity, quality, distribution, and timing of water
                             in the ecosystem right.

                             Scientists have also made significant progress in developing information on
                             mercury, a contaminant that affects water quality and the health of birds,
                             animals, and humans in the South Florida ecosystem. The presence of
                             mercury in South Florida fish was highlighted as a problem for wildlife in
                             1989 by the Florida Department of Health, and in 1993, scientists identified
                             mercury contamination as one of the alarming ecological threats to the
                             altered ecosystem. Since then, scientists have conducted research that
                             linked local, regional, and global information on mercury and helped
                             identify the root causes of the mercury problem. In general, this
                             information improved understanding of the sources, transformations, and
                             fate of mercury in the Everglades. More specifically, scientists determined
                             that atmospheric sources account for greater than 95 percent of the
                             mercury that is added to the ecosystem. As a result, scientists confirmed
                             that regulatory actions taken to reduce incinerator emissions of mercury
                             were appropriate action to help reduce mercury in the ecosystem.

                             Scientists also made progress in developing control techniques for one
                             serious invasive species and reducing the effects of excess nutrients on the
                             natural system. First, scientists developed a biological control that by 1999
                             had helped to reduce the acreage of Melaleuca present on natural lands in
                             South Florida by 26 percent. Second, scientists helped to design over
                             41,000 acres of storm water treatment areas constructed by the state and to
                             optimize best management practices applied by farmers and ranchers to
                             their fields. These areas and practices have been used to reduce the
                             amount of excess nutrients—in particular phosphorus—in water running
                             off agricultural fields into natural areas in South Florida.




                             Page 23                                          GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Gaps in Scientific          While scientists have made progress in developing scientific information,
                            they have also identified significant gaps in scientific information and
Information and             adaptive management tools that, if not addressed in the near future, will
Adaptive Management         hinder the overall success of the restoration effort. Gaps in the
                            development of scientific information may prevent action to address risks
Tools Remain—That If        to the entire ecosystem, specific regions of the ecosystem, or to areas
Not Addressed, Could        around individual projects. For example, scientists need to know, but have
Hinder Ongoing              little information on, the amount and risk of contaminants such as
                            fertilizers and pesticides in water throughout the entire ecosystem. Without
Restoration Efforts         this information, scientists cannot determine whether fish and other
                            organisms are being harmed by these contaminants or whether the
                            redistribution of water will spread the potentially harmful contaminants to
                            parts of the ecosystem that are relatively undisturbed. In addition,
                            scientists and managers cannot determine whether a restoration project
                            has the potential to increase the levels of contaminants in parts of the
                            ecosystem. Gaps are also present in the development of certain adaptive
                            management tools, such as models and a comprehensive monitoring plan,
                            that are based on key indicators, which allow scientists to assess how the
                            implementation of restoration projects and plans affect the ecosystem and
                            whether this implementation is resulting in successful restoration. The only
                            systemwide-monitoring plan that does exist is one put together for the
                            RECOVER program focusing on the objectives of the Comprehensive
                            Everglades Restoration Plan. Without these types of tools, scientists can
                            neither track the progress or success of restoration nor identify when
                            changes may be needed to restoration projects and plans to ensure that
                            restoration goals are achieved.



Current Research Does Not   Existing gaps in scientific information prevent scientists and managers
Fully Address Ecosystem     from assessing ecosystem health and limit their ability to implement
                            particular restoration projects and plans. Although the restoration initiative
Threats or Individual
                            seeks to return the ecosystem as close as possible to the conditions that
Project Information Needs   existed prior to its drainage, scientists remain concerned over the
                            uncertainties associated with the biological and ecological conditions that
                            existed and that could exist again in a restored ecosystem. In our review of
                            10 ongoing projects and plans related to restoration, scientists identified
                            gaps in information for 6 of the projects that will potentially hinder
                            restoration if not filled. Four of these projects and plans have information
                            gaps that have the potential to affect large parts, if not the entire,
                            ecosystem and two projects have gaps that will make it difficult to




                            Page 24                                          GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
                          implement particular restoration projects within the time frames and
                          budgets allotted for them.

Research Needed to Fill   In our review of restoration projects and plans, scientists identified the
Ecosystemwide Gaps        need for information on two areas—invasive species and water
                          contaminants—that, if not developed, will potentially hinder ecosystem
                          health. Table 1 shows the four projects and plans that we reviewed that
                          revealed information gaps and their effects.



                          Table 1: Gaps in Information and the Effects of the Gaps

                          Project/plan and purpose                   Information gap                 Effect of information gap
                          Exotic plants plan: To                     Information on (1) controls     Without controls, invasive
                          develop a comprehensive                    for species present or likely   plants will devastate some
                          strategy for agencies to                   to invade the ecosystem and     natural areas, undermining
                          address invasive plants in                 (2) the detection of new        the benefits of other projects
                          South Florida                              invasive plants.                designed to achieve
                                                                                                     restoration benefits.
                          Canal 111 (C-111) project:                 Information on the presence     Without information on the
                          To increase flows in the                   and effects of                  types, amounts, and
                          southeastern portion of                    contaminants—                   potential risks of
                          Everglades National Park,                  such as heavy metals,           contaminants in water and
                          improving wetland habitat                  pesticides, and other           sediment, scientists and
                          for wading birds and other                 chemicals—in other areas of     managers cannot tell
                          species.                                   the ecosystem.                  whether they might distribute
                                                                                                     contaminants to other areas.
                          Wastewater Reuse Pilot                     Information on detecting and    Without information on such
                          Project: To study the use of               analyzing the effects of        contaminants, scientists and
                          treated wastewater to                      pharmaceutical                  managers do not know if
                          supplement water in natural                contaminants—that is            water that is planned as
                          areas.                                     hormones, steroids, and         supplemental supply for
                                                                     antibiotics and other           natural areas such as
                                                                     chemicals that are not          Biscayne Bay would be of
                                                                     removed with water              sufficient quality.
                                                                     treatment technology.
                          Storm Water Treatment                      Information on ways to          Without such information,
                          Area 1-East: A constructed                 optimize the removal of         scientists and managers
                          wetland used to remove                     phosphorus from runoff          could not achieve the low
                          excess nutrients—                          water.                          levels of phosphorus needed
                          particularly phosphorus—                                                   to restore the ecosystem
                          from agricultural and other                                                using this technology,
                          runoff water.                                                              resulting in continued
                                                                                                     degradation of native
                                                                                                     sawgrass habitat, a type of
                                                                                                     vegetation important for a
                                                                                                     restored ecosystem.
                          Sources: Federal agencies (data), GAO (analysis).




                          Page 25                                                               GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Invasive species—harmful plants and animals that are not native to an
ecosystem—hinder attempts to restore native species, including
threatened and endangered ones, in South Florida by strangling native
plants and depriving native animals of their habitat and food sources.
Examples of invasive species already known to exist in South Florida
include Melaleuca, Brazilian pepper, the Asian swamp eel, and the Old
World climbing fern. Information is needed on control methods for the
invasive species that are already present and those that are likely to invade
the ecosystem and on methods for identifying newly introduced species
before they cause extensive harm to the ecosystem. For example, scientists
and managers reported that insufficient research on control methods has
allowed the Old World climbing fern to spread throughout parts of the
ecosystem. The fern has covered increasing amounts of native vegetation—
about 28,000 acres in 1993 and about 109,000 acres in 1999. Growing over
trees and shrubs, the fern smothers whole plant communities, altering
water movement and increasing the risk of fire (see fig. 7). Without
additional information on control and detection, scientists stated that
invasive plants and animals will continue to devastate parts of the
ecosystem, thereby hindering the success of restoration.




Page 26                                         GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Figure 7: Old World Climbing Fern Smothering Vegetation




Source: South Florida Water Management District.

The Old World climbing fern forms dense mats, growing over trees and shrubs and smothering whole
plant communities. The fern is shown close-up and from an aerial view in Everglades National Park.




A second area that has the potential to impede restoration efforts is the
presence of contaminants that could affect water and sediment quality,
and thus, the entire ecosystem’s health. Scientists are concerned that the
heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides near natural areas in South Florida
increases the discharge of chemical compounds into natural areas.
Contaminants found in South Florida are heavy metals, pesticides,
fertilizers, and other chemicals that are transported by water and soil and
deposited in sediments. When discharged into natural areas, contaminants
are absorbed by organisms such as aquatic insects, other invertebrates, and
fish that live in the water and sediment, affecting the survival and
reproduction of those organisms and those that feed on them. Information
that is needed on contaminants includes the amounts of contaminants that
are applied and could be discharged into the environment, the amounts
that persist in water and sediments, and the risks faced by organisms living
in areas with contaminants (even low levels on a long-term basis).



Page 27                                                      GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Information on analytical methods is needed for one specific type of
contaminant, pharmaceuticals, including antibiotics, hormones, and
steroids that remain in water even after treatment. Information is also
needed for another specific category of contaminants—nutrients such as
phosphorus—that cause undesirable changes to vegetation by increasing
the growth of cattails that replace native sawgrass. Information that is
needed on nutrients includes how to optimize techniques already
developed to reduce phosphorus to lower levels. If information in these
areas is not developed, poor water and soil quality may continue to degrade
habitats and harm the plants and animals that are part of the ecosystem.

No single agency has primary responsibility for developing the scientific
information needed to address problems regarding invasive species or
contaminants for restoration. Although these areas may be systemwide
priorities, agency science programs may have different priorities, in part,
because of their different missions and objectives. As a result, systemwide
information on these areas is difficult to develop. While scientists from
several agencies participating in the restoration have conducted limited
studies, no comprehensive research or research plans have been
implemented. For example, the National Park Service granted money for
research on the amounts and types of contaminants that exist around the
C-111 project and that could be moving into Everglades National Park, and
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration granted funds for
research on contaminants that might flow from C-111 into Florida Bay.
While the results of these limited studies indicate the need for more
systemwide work on screening for contaminants that may be moved by
changes to water management projects, little work has been done to
address this issue on a systemwide basis.




Page 28                                        GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Information Needed to Support     Two of the 10 projects that we reviewed required additional scientific
Individual Restoration Projects   information to ensure that the projects, as designed, would achieve
                                  restoration at the local level. Scientists have identified gaps in scientific
                                  information that, if not addressed, may delay the projects while the
                                  information is developed or that may require the projects to be changed
                                  after they are implemented, which could increase costs associated with the
                                  projects. Table 2 shows the two projects, the information needed, and the
                                  effects of the information gaps.



                                  Table 2: Gaps in Information Related to Individual Projects

                                  Project and
                                  purpose                         Information gap               Effect of information gap
                                  Biscayne Bay           Information on saline                  Without salinity levels for coastal
                                  Coastal Wetlands       concentrations in the bay.             areas of the bay, scientists cannot
                                  project: To promote                                           determine how to design the project
                                  more gradual flow of                                          to optimize freshwater flows into the
                                  freshwater into                                               bay to restore it.
                                  Biscayne Bay, by
                                  restoring tidal creeks
                                  along the bay, thus
                                  reducing salinity
                                  levels and improving
                                  habitat for oysters
                                  and fish.
                                  Modified Water                  Information on tree islands   Without information on the level of
                                  Delivery project: To            and the effects of water      water needed to sustain the formation
                                  restore water to                “flow” on tree islands and    of the islands without flooding them,
                                  Northeast Shark                 ridge and slough habitat.     the removal of levees cannot be
                                  River Slough on the                                           optimally designed. The lack of
                                  eastern side of                                               information also affects a related
                                  Everglades National                                           project, the decompartmentalization
                                  Park to improve                                               of levees in the state’s water
                                  wetland habitat for                                           conservation areas.
                                  birds and animals.
                                  Sources: Federal agencies (data), GAO (analysis).




                                  Page 29                                                            GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Scientists working on the Project Delivery Team for the first project, the
Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands project, identified the need to acquire
information on salinity levels along the coast. The project seeks to restore
more natural freshwater flows into the Biscayne Bay, which have been
disrupted by the canals and operations of the Central and Southern Florida
Project. The coastal wetlands project will help restore the estuarine
conditions of the bay by recreating coastal creeks through the mangroves
fringing the bay and restricting the effects of pulses of freshwater that are
emptied periodically from canals into the bay (see fig. 8). Information on
salinity would allow scientists to determine the amount and timing of water
that should be released into the bay to create more natural conditions. This
information would enable the scientists to determine how many tidal
creeks need to be restored as part of the project design and would help
them identify where the tidal creeks should be located. Without this
information, the project design cannot be finalized and land acquisition
cannot be completed for the project. Although the project has a conceptual
design and land is being acquired according to it, a more detailed design is
needed to assure that the right lands are acquired for the project.16




16
 Lands in the vicinity of the project are already subject to development pressures. An
administrative law judge determined in January that the Lennar property, a 516-acre
parcel near Biscayne Bay, can be developed with homes despite potential plans for the
wetlands project.




Page 30                                                  GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Figure 8: Mangrove Habitat and Ridge and Slough Habitat with Tree Islands




                                        Location of the ridge and
                                        slough and mangroves




                                                                                      (B)



                                                                        Ridge and slough




                                              Mangroves




                                                                             Biscayne Bay




          (A)


      A. Mangroves, a mosaic of different types of trees and shrubs, provide an interface
         between more saline coastal waters and the freshwater marshes in South
         Florida and are a valuable habitat for several endangered invertebrates,
         including the manatee and the American crocodile.
      B. Tree islands, found in this well-preserved ridge and slough area, are small
         forests of trees and shrubs and consist of peat soil above the surrounding
         marsh. These islands provide an important home to many mammals and are a
         site for wading and migratory birds.




Source: Mangroves, GAO; tree islands, South Florida Water Management District.




Page 31                                                                          GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Scientific information is also needed to support the Modified Water
Delivery project, which has been ongoing for many years and has been
delayed primarily because of land acquisition conflicts. The Modified Water
Delivery project and a related project in the Comprehensive Everglades
Restoration Plan are expected to increase the amount of water running
through the eastern part of Everglades National Park, lower water levels on
state and tribal lands to the north of the park, keep agricultural lands to the
east of the park dry, and restore an important type of habitat called “ridge
and slough” habitat. This habitat, which is one of the signature habitats
native to the Everglades, is thought to be essential to maintain the rich
diversity of habitats necessary for Everglades plants and animals. Ridge
and slough habitat contains slightly elevated, north-south ridges dominated
by sawgrass, interspersed with sloughs, which are open water areas with
sparse vegetation. This ridge and slough habitat may also have “tree
islands,” which have woody vegetation more suited to dry areas than
wetlands and serve as important habitat for some species (see fig. 8). High
water levels have destroyed many tree islands, areas that scientists seek to
restore. However, scientists identified the need for continued work to
understand the dynamics of tree islands and recently identified the need to
understand the role of flowing water in the creation of ridge and slough
habitat and its associated tree islands. If the information is not developed,
the project designs may be delayed or inadequate, forcing scientists and
managers to spend time redesigning projects or making unnecessary
modifications to those already built. For example, a larger portion of the
levees, roads in the vicinity of the Modified Water Delivery project, and
other barriers may need to be removed to increase the flow of water if
scientists develop information demonstrating the need.

According to scientists and managers, even though adaptive management
allows for changes to be made to projects as new information becomes
available, it is still best to design projects with as much of the important
scientific information as possible to prevent the costly alteration or
removal of projects or potential damage to the ecosystem. The Corps and
the District are relying on some, if not most, of the scientific work needed
to be accomplished by other agencies such as the Geological Survey, the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Park
Service, or the South Florida Water Management District. However, agency
science programs are generally driven by research cycles that last from 3 to
5 years, which limits the opportunities to start new work or to make the
results available for decisions.




Page 32                                          GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Key Adaptive Management         Key tools needed for effective adaptive management have not yet been
Tools Are Needed to Apply       developed, including (1) a comprehensive monitoring plan for key
                                indicators of ecosystem health and (2) mathematical models that would
Science to Restoration          allow scientists to simulate aspects of the ecosystem and better understand
Decisions                       how the ecosystem responds to restoration actions. Indicators and a
                                monitoring plan were missing for the two plans we reviewed and models
                                were missing for three projects we reviewed. Without such tools, the
                                process of adaptive management will be hindered by the fact that scientists
                                and managers will be less able to monitor key indicators of restoration and
                                evaluate the effects created by particular restoration actions.

Key Indicators and a            While scientists have established indicators and a monitoring plan for the
Comprehensive Monitoring Plan   Corps’ Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, which is designed to
Are Not Yet Developed           help achieve the first goal of restoration (getting the water right), they have
                                not done so for the other restoration goals—restoring, protecting, and
                                preserving the natural system and fostering the compatibility of built and
                                natural systems. Indicators are particular features of the ecosystem—such
                                as wading birds, vegetation, or water quality levels—that characterize or
                                represent the conditions of the ecosystem that scientists and others
                                participating in restoration would like to restore. These indicators or
                                features are monitored to determine the degree to which they are
                                changing—thereby indicating whether the ecosystem is changing in the
                                desired direction.

                                The Corps and the District, in implementing the Comprehensive Everglades
                                Restoration Plan under the 2000 WRDA, established the RECOVER
                                program to carry out an adaptive management program with a monitoring
                                plan for water-related projects and habitat.17 Neither the Task Force nor the
                                participating agencies have developed a similar program for plans
                                associated with the two other restoration goals. As a result, scientists have
                                not established a full set of indicators or a monitoring plan for goals two
                                and three of the restoration. Table 3 shows the gaps in indicators and
                                monitoring plans.




                                17
                                  RECOVER officials use the term performance measures to describe the set of natural and
                                human system elements that they will measure to assess the success of the Comprehensive
                                Everglades Restoration Plan. Restoration officials use the term indicators to refer to a
                                subset of these measures that will show progress toward ecosystem restoration. We use the
                                term indicators to refer to the underlying performance measure as well as the indicator.




                                Page 33                                                 GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Table 3: Gaps in Indicators and Monitoring Plans and the Effects of the Gaps

                                 Gap in indicators and
Plan and purpose                 monitoring plans                Effect of missing tool
South Florida Multi-             Indicators for endangered       Without indicators and a long-range
Species Recovery                 species and a range of          monitoring plan for a range of
Plan: Identifies                 related habitats and a          threatened and endangered
actions needed to                monitoring plan to              species—including habitat
save 68 threatened               determine whether actions       indicators—scientists will have a
and endangered                   have helped them.               more difficult time knowing whether
species and habitat                                              species are recovering because of
for these species.                                               restoration actions. Without the
                                                                 monitoring information, scientists
                                                                 cannot provide information for
                                                                 adaptive management decisions.
Exotic plants plan: To Indicators and a                          Without indicators and a long-range
develop consistent     monitoring plan for                       monitoring plan for the species that
monitoring methods invasive exotic species.                      most threaten the ecosystem,
and control methods                                              scientists cannot provide information
for agencies in South                                            about how to adapt management
Florida.                                                         decisions.
Sources: Federal agencies (data and analysis), GAO (analysis).


The Task Force has adopted restoring, protecting, and preserving
natural habitats as its second restoration goal, but has not ensured the
development of a monitoring plan for carrying out this goal. The Fish and
Wildlife Service—the agency leading species recovery efforts—has
established a multiagency, multidisciplinary team to identify actions that
can be taken to recover multiple species. In addition, the Fish and Wildlife
Service monitors the status of all threatened and endangered species, and
the RECOVER program has selected particular species as indicators of
success for implementing water projects; however, these are not the
equivalent of indicators and monitoring of the range of habitats that exist in
South Florida. For example, although indicators and a monitoring plan for
key wetland species have been selected, they have not been selected for
upland species. Scientists have also not developed indicators or a
monitoring plan for invasive species or for the changes in the extent of
wetland vegetation and coverage, both of which are related to the second
restoration goal, to restore the natural system. While the Task Force’s
invasive species team is attempting to unify the agencies’ diverse methods
of detecting and monitoring invasive species, it has not identified
indicators of the range and amount of invasive exotic species or developed
a monitoring plan to track relevant indicators.




Page 34                                                               GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
                              Indicators of significant ecosystem conditions such as the condition of
                              uplands and related monitoring plans need to be developed before the
                              process of adaptive management—tracking changes in the ecosystem and
                              making necessary changes to restoration actions—can be successfully
                              accomplished. Even though the restoration initiative and the various
                              programs will be implemented over a long period of time, scientists stated
                              that it is important to establish current (baseline) conditions as quickly as
                              possible and to begin monitoring to develop sufficient data on which to
                              base analyses of trends. Analyzing trends is difficult without sufficient data
                              and may lead to inaccurate or indeterminate conclusions. Further, if the set
                              of indicators is not comprehensive—that is, if it excludes significant parts
                              of the ecosystem or does not allow the tracking of important management
                              actions—then the adaptive management process will not be
                              comprehensive nor will it indicate the success of restoration.

Important Models Are Needed   As with monitoring plans, models are also important tools for carrying out
                              adaptive management because they allow scientists to forecast and
                              evaluate the potential effects of proposed restoration actions. In our review
                              of restoration projects and plans, scientists identified the need for several
                              important models—including three for Florida Bay, Biscayne Bay, and
                              systemwide vegetation. Models are mathematical representations of
                              physical conditions and processes; for example, scientists use a model to
                              determine how much water is available in different parts of the ecosystem
                              based on rainfall amounts, water levels in canals, and the amount of water
                              available from groundwater. They can be simple, requiring a few
                              calculations or data transformations, or they can be extremely
                              complicated, requiring data collection for tens or hundreds of variables.
                              Table 4 shows the gaps in models that scientists stated are needed to
                              support restoration efforts.




                              Page 35                                          GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Table 4: Gaps in Modeling Tools and the Effects of the Gaps

Project/plan and
purpose                          Gap in modeling tools           Effect of missing tool
Florida Bay                      Hydrodynamic model of           Without such a model, scientists will
Feasibility Study: To            the bay. A hydrodynamic         have a more difficult time determining
study options for                model shows the                 the effects of adding water—from the
improving water                  circulation of water,           water management changes
management for                   including the changing          associated with water projects in
Florida Bay,                     depth of water, and shows       South Florida—to the bay. They also
including the                    changes in water quality,       cannot determine salinity and water
development of a                 such as salinity, related to    quality levels that may affect seagrass,
hydrodynamic model               circulation and depth.          algae, and organisms in the bay.
of the bay.
Biscayne Bay           Hydrologic model and an                   Without hydrologic and groundwater
Coastal Wetlands       associated groundwater                    models of the project area, scientists
project: To promote model.                                       do not know how much groundwater
more gradual flow of                                             is available for the bay—which in turn
freshwater into the                                              affects salinity levels—or how it will be
Biscayne Bay, by                                                 altered by the project.
restoring tidal creeks
along the bay, thus
reducing salinity
levels and improving
habitat for oysters
and fish.
Modified Water                   Ecological/vegetation           Without a model, or several models, to
Delivery project: To             models.                         help assess the change in vegetation
restore water to                                                 that results from different hydrological
Northeast Shark                                                  conditions, scientists and managers
River Slough on the                                              will have more difficulty in determining
eastern side of                                                  the possible changes that will occur in
Everglades National                                              the ecosystem as a result of proposed
Park to improve                                                  restoration actions.
wetland habitat for
birds and animals.
Sources: Federal agencies (data and analysis), GAO (analysis).


Scientists stated that a model is needed to help them understand the
conditions of Florida Bay. The restoration of the South Florida ecosystem
includes the restoration of the bay, which has been subject to die-off of its
seagrasses and increased algae blooms and which will receive increased
flows of freshwater as changes to inland water management occur.
Scientists, in trying to prevent such die-offs and algae blooms, anticipated
that a model would show the circulation of the bay and should forecast
changes in water quality conditions to enable them to understand what
changes in water management—that is increased or redistributed
freshwater flows—will bring to the bay. The model is needed relatively



Page 36                                                                GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
early in the restoration process to help explain how changes in the bay
relate to changes in the flow of water from inland areas, which will
change as the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan projects are
built and operated.

Scientists also pointed to two other models that are needed: a linked
hydrologic and groundwater model for Biscayne Bay and an ecological
model for vegetation in the ecosystem. The hydrologic and groundwater
models for Biscayne Bay would show how much water flows underground
in the vicinity of the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands project and will allow
scientists to determine how the inflows will change salinity levels off the
coast, changing habitat for vegetation, fish, and oysters that they are
attempting to recover. An ecological model, or a set of interconnected
models or indices, would enable scientists to show how changes in water
management will cause changes in the different types of vegetation in the
ecosystem. Because the ultimate purpose of restoration is to restore
habitats and species, scientists are interested in such a model to help them
assess the effects of various alternatives for managing and restoring flows
of water.

Without these models, scientists have a difficult time determining the
effects of changes on ecological and biological resources. Scientists need
modeling tools available in time to help them analyze the changes that
occur as a result of implementing restoration projects and plans. All three
models are currently being developed but they have not been satisfactorily
completed. For example, a hydrodynamic model of Florida Bay has been
developed, but because of the variability of the bay (containing at least
27 distinct basins created by shallow mudbanks) the model does not
satisfactorily represent the bay’s conditions. In addition, according to
scientists, insufficient efforts were made to include in the model the
comments from the multiple agencies involved in scientific activities in the
bay. Similarly, although the agencies responsible for assessing the changes
on vegetation have stated they need some sort of tool to analyze changes in
vegetation, limited tools are available. Several agencies have developed
ecological models for different regions of the ecosystem or animal species,
but these models are in various stages of completion. In seeking to
complete models for use in assessing restoration actions, several scientists
and managers cautioned that the models should be developed to provide
tools for analyzing the changes to the ecosystem that result from
restoration actions and decisions, not simply to demonstrate new models
or modeling techniques.




Page 37                                         GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
The Task Force Lacks        The WRDA of 1996 requires the Task Force to coordinate scientific
                            research for South Florida ecosystem restoration; however, the Task Force
an Effective Means to       has not established an effective means to do so, diminishing assurance
Coordinate Science          that key science information will be developed and available to fill gaps
                            and support restoration decisions. Although the Task Force’s Working
Activities                  Group established the SCT in 1997 and gave it broad responsibilities for
                            coordinating scientific activities for restoration, they did not clearly
                            identify the plans that the SCT needs to produce to help fill gaps in
                            scientific information or establish processes through which the Task Force
                            and Working Group would support the SCT’s planning and reporting
                            efforts. Furthermore, unlike coordination entities for other major
                            restoration initiatives, the SCT has operated for the most part without any
                            full-time or part-time staff and must accomplish its functions through
                            volunteer efforts. With limited direction and few resources, the SCT
                            prioritized its efforts to focus on a few of its responsibilities. For example,
                            the SCT sponsored science workshops over the past 6 years and developed
                            reports synthesizing key issues, such as improving water flow and
                            increasing sustainable agriculture. However, in doing this, it set aside most
                            of its other important responsibilities, including prioritizing research needs
                            and developing a science plan and a comprehensive monitoring plan.



Task Force Established      Although the Task Force’s Working Group created the SCT as a science
the SCT with Broad          coordination group, it did not give clear direction on which of its
                            responsibilities are a priority for supporting the Task Force and the
Responsibilities but Did
                            Working Group, contributing to the SCT’s inability to accomplish several
Not Specify Requirements    of its most important functions. According to restoration managers and
or Processes for Planning   scientists, the SCT’s main responsibilities, included in its charter, are
and Reporting               planning scientific activities for restoration, ensuring the development of a
                            monitoring plan, synthesizing scientific information, and conducting
                            science conferences and workshops on major issues such as sustainable
                            agriculture or contaminants. However, the Task Force and Working Group
                            did not specify what plans the SCT should develop and update periodically,
                            or establish processes through which to provide management input to the
                            SCT or to ensure that significant scientific issues discovered by the SCT
                            would be reported. Without these planning and reporting requirements and
                            processes, the SCT has focused on other responsibilities and has not
                            completed a science plan, a comprehensive monitoring plan, and more
                            reports synthesizing diverse scientific information. Because the SCT has
                            not fulfilled these responsibilities, the Task Force cannot ensure that
                            (1) important gaps in scientific information are identified; (2) the highest



                            Page 38                                          GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
                             priority science activities are identified and conducted; (3) a
                             comprehensive monitoring plan is in place to track the progress of
                             restoration projects and plans and to manage them adaptively; and
                             (4) relevant scientific data has been synthesized into information that is
                             useful in helping managers make important restoration decisions.

Task Force Has No Specific   Under its charter the SCT has broad planning responsibilities to identify
Planning Requirements        and fill gaps in science and to ensure the development of ecosystem
                             indicators and coordinated monitoring plans to track the success of
                             restoration. In particular, the charter requires the SCT to conduct several
                             activities: identify key gaps in management information and propose
                             coordinated research and other programs to address the gaps; coordinate
                             scientific investigations to document long-term ecosystem effects of
                             restoration; and identify future science needs and recommend priorities.
                             Because of the inherent difficulties of coordinating the efforts of the many
                             agencies with differing missions that conduct science activities, planning is
                             critical to ensure that coordination of these activities occurs and that gaps
                             in scientific information are filled. Furthermore, because the agencies and
                             not the SCT have authority to fund science activities, the team must make
                             recommendations to the Task Force and its Working Group to ensure that
                             these groups have the information they need to make coordinated funding
                             decisions about scientific activities among the agencies. A science plan
                             would (1) facilitate coordination of the multiple agency science plans
                             and programs; (2) identify key gaps in scientific information and tools;
                             (3) prioritize scientific activities needed to fill such gaps; and
                             (4) recommend agencies with expertise to fund and conduct work to fill
                             these gaps. Such plans would complement the Task Force’s strategic plan
                             that addresses all restoration activities and is to be updated every 2 years to
                             reflect the focus and direction of the restoration effort.

                             In part because the Task Force has not required it, the SCT has not
                             developed a science plan to coordinate agencies’ science activities and to
                             report on progress in meeting restoration science needs. In 1996, the
                             predecessor to the SCT—the Science Subgroup—issued a report with an
                             extensive list of scientific information needs for restoration, but this list
                             was never prioritized in a science plan that recommended specific
                             scientific activities, responsible agencies, time frames, and funding needs.
                             According to Task Force and SCT officials, no specific planning
                             requirements were established because managers and scientists were
                             focused on developing and getting approval of the Comprehensive
                             Everglades Restoration Plan, which Congress authorized as a study in 1996
                             and finally approved, along with the State of Florida, as a plan in 2000.



                             Page 39                                          GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
                                 Without requiring the SCT to develop and periodically update a science
                                 plan, the Task Force and Working Group have little assurance that the
                                 information needed to guide funding to priority activities is available or
                                 that scientific activities will fill significant gaps in information.

                                 Another of the SCT’s broad planning responsibilities is to ensure the
                                 coordination of a systemwide monitoring plan to support the evaluation of
                                 restoration activities. This plan would provide scientists with a key tool to
                                 implement adaptive management. The SCT, however, has not accomplished
                                 this task. According to the SCT and managers, the Corps’ RECOVER
                                 program has developed indicators and a monitoring plan that will assist
                                 them in developing information needed to make adaptive management
                                 decisions to improve the hydrology and the wetland habitats in the
                                 ecosystem. The RECOVER plan does not, however, include indicators and
                                 monitoring needed to fully measure the achievement of the two remaining
                                 restoration goals—restoring, protecting, and preserving the natural system
                                 and fostering the compatibility of the built and natural systems. For
                                 example, the RECOVER monitoring plan excludes indicators for
                                 management actions related to reducing invasive species or recovering
                                 endangered species in upland areas. Without first developing indicators
                                 and a monitoring plan that encompass the ecosystem and management
                                 actions to restore the ecosystem, the Task Force and the Working Group
                                 have no means to determine whether ecosystem conditions are being
                                 restored and whether important goals of restoration are being or will
                                 be met.

Task Force Has Not Established   The SCT is responsible for identifying and synthesizing scientific
Effective Processes to Support   information needed for management decisions. Scientists and managers
SCT Planning and Reporting       have noted the need for an effective process that allows the Task Force and
Responsibilities                 the Working Group to identify significant management issues or questions
                                 related to the restoration that scientific activities need to address.
                                 Additionally, scientists and managers have noted that in order to assure
                                 that restoration is successfully implemented, scientists must be able to
                                 develop and report on issues that they believe need to be addressed
                                 through science activities. The SCT, as it was created by the Task Force,
                                 has no effective process to receive management input regarding
                                 management concerns related to planning for scientific activities or to
                                 allow scientists and managers to identify and prioritize scientific issues
                                 that the SCT needs to address. These processes are important in carrying
                                 out both the planning and synthesis responsibilities that the Task Force has
                                 given the SCT.




                                 Page 40                                         GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Management input into the SCT’s planning effort is important because, as
several scientists and managers emphasized, without this input, scientists
cannot fully understand the information that managers need in order to
make key restoration decisions and may omit some important management
issues in their science planning. Some officials stated that the process of
getting input is important because scientists and managers view restoration
issues differently and ask different types of questions. For example, a
manager may ask higher-level questions such as: “What is causing our
water to have so much algae?” On the other hand, to answer such a
question, a scientist would formulate more technical, detailed questions
such as “How much phosphorus is present in the water, and what are
the sources?”

Recognizing the need for management input into science planning, officials
from the Department of the Interior, in 2002, initiated a planning process
through which managers identified their questions related to management
of the department’s South Florida lands to Interior scientists. In turn, these
scientists developed research questions to answer them.18 The Task Force,
Working Group, and SCT lack such a process for overall restoration
science planning and therefore rely on the Working Group members of the
SCT to convey a management view for planning. Thus far, this process has
not been effective because Working Group members often do not attend
SCT meetings. Without an effective process to get management input into
science planning, the Task Force has less assurance that science activities
are being conducted to address pressing management questions related
to restoration.

To fulfill its responsibility to synthesize information for managers, the
SCT needs to select the issues that it will address for the Task Force and
Working Group. According to the National Academy of Sciences, synthesis
of scientific information provides managers with an overview of scientists’
understanding on different restoration issues and provides for the
integration of many diverse scientific studies. A process used to select
issues for synthesis reports needs to be transparent to members of the
SCT, the Working Group, and the Task Force and needs to facilitate the
provision of a credible list of issues that the SCT needs to address in
synthesis reports. One way that other scientific groups that are part of
restoration efforts approach the issue of transparency and credibility is to


18
 The Department of the Interior’s science plan has yet to be completed as of February 2003;
thus we did not evaluate the effectiveness of the department’s planning process.




Page 41                                                  GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
                          use an advisory board to provide an independent review of the scientific
                          plans, reports, and issues being addressed by the scientific staff involved in
                          the restoration efforts. For example, the Chesapeake Bay Program has a
                          Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee that annually reviews the
                          research plans of the scientific staff supporting the restoration.

                          The SCT, the Working Group, and the Task Force do not have an advisory
                          group such as the Chesapeake Bay Program. Nor do these groups have any
                          other process through which to gain agreement on the issues the SCT will
                          address. As a result, some scientific issues have not been addressed. In
                          1999, the Task Force and Working Group rejected the SCT’s offer to
                          develop a report synthesizing available scientific information on a
                          controversial area of land that some scientists and managers believed
                          needed to be acquired for restoration purposes.19 According to Task Force
                          and Working Group officials, the lack of agreement on how to resolve
                          issues confronting the area were political and economic, not scientific.
                          However, according to scientists, a scientific analysis could have helped to
                          clarify some of the factual information on the debate surrounding the
                          land acquisition, such as the historical conditions of the land. Another
                          reason that the groups disagree on issues for scientific review is that Task
                          Force officials are concerned that the SCT scientists will advocate policy
                          alternatives that reflect their agencies’ concerns. Lacking a process
                          through which they can agree on significant scientific issues that should
                          be the subject of a synthesis report by the SCT, the Task Force and
                          Working Group may overlook important information needed to make
                          restoration decisions.



Task Force Has Provided   Aside from providing the SCT with no specific planning and reporting
Few Resources for SCT     requirements, the Task Force established the SCT with few resources. In
                          particular, although the SCT has been able to develop and sponsor a few
Activities
                          synthesis reports, it has done fewer reports than needed because its
                          members have limited time to develop the reports or organize other groups
                          to develop them. The SCT has identified a list of over 50 topics—such as
                          water quality and the extent and condition of wetlands in the ecosystem—
                          for which synthesis reports are needed. Yet, these reports, as well as
                          several of the SCT’s other responsibilities, have not been done in part
                          because the SCT does not have full-time management staff to lead efforts

                          19
                           This area of land is to the northeast of Everglades National Park and is called the
                          “8.5 square mile area.”




                          Page 42                                                   GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
or full-time or part-time scientists to fulfill its primary responsibilities. Only
two agencies—the Geological Survey and the South Florida Water
Management District—have allocated some staff time for SCT duties.
Furthermore, until recently, the SCT did not have any support staff.

Because the SCT must rely on volunteer efforts, most of its work has been
accomplished by a few of its members. The SCT generally meets about
four to six times per year, and SCT members stated that they have little or
no time between meetings to devote to SCT tasks. SCT business has been
conducted by a core group of people, who accept projects in addition to
their workload at their respective agencies. SCT members and other
scientists noted that voluntary efforts are increasingly limited by the
growing number of meetings that scientists are expected to attend for
restoration activities. In particular, scientists are expected to participate in
individual project meetings for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration
Plan and other meetings to develop scientific information for restoration
efforts. In contrast to the SCT’s efforts, the RECOVER program, which has
six subteams that are chaired and provided with full-time staff and
$10 million to support monitoring efforts, has met multiple times a year
since it was created in 2000 to develop the monitoring and assessment plan
for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan—a task that also falls
under the SCT’s broad responsibilities.

With its available resources, the SCT has, over the last 6 years, conducted
several science workshops to coordinate information and activities among
scientists. These workshops highlighted several important restoration
issues including some that identify gaps in scientific information, such as
contaminants, agriculture, social sciences, and the habitat for the Cape
Sable seaside sparrow, an endangered bird in and near Everglades National
Park. The SCT also convened one science conference and one science
forum to address overall ecosystem issues. A 1999 science forum focused
on how to improve the interaction between scientists and managers and
management issues that need to be addressed for restoration. However, in
2000, recognizing its inability to accomplish the other responsibilities in its
charter given limited resources, the SCT reported to the Task Force that it
could not accomplish most of its key responsibilities, such as science
planning. Instead, the SCT identified the five priority activities and
issues that it could address with available resources and presented these
to the Working Group and the Task Force. These five were water quality,
water flow, organization of science conferences, support of CROGEE,
and evaluation of science related to the Comprehensive Everglades
Restoration Plan.



Page 43                                            GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
In 2003, the Task Force partially addressed the SCT’s request for resources.
According to Task Force officials, it did not provide resources for the
SCT when it was originally established in an effort to keep costs down.
Recognizing the limits placed on the SCT’s ability to plan for and
coordinate scientific activities, 6 Working Group agencies have recently
agreed to provide a total of $150,000 for fiscal year 2003 for one full-time
and one or more part-time staff to provide administrative and logistical
support to the SCT.20 According to SCT members, such forms of assistance
will help the SCT in accomplishing its tasks, but still do not provide
management resources to allow the team to complete the broad
responsibilities, laid out in the charter, that are needed to coordinate
scientific activities for restoration. In addition, in recognition of the threat
of invasive species to restoration success, the Task Force has assigned a
full-time scientist to coordinate and plan related efforts for South Florida.
To help coordinate invasive species activities, the Task Force also
developed the Noxious Exotic Weeds Task Team and plans to create the
Noxious Exotic Animal Task Team.

In comparison, leaders of other large ecosystem restoration efforts—the
San Francisco Bay and Chesapeake Bay area efforts—have recognized
that significant resources are required to coordinate science for such
efforts. These scientists and managers stated that their coordination
groups have full-time leadership (an executive director or chief scientist),
several full-time staff to coordinate agencies’ science efforts and develop
plans and reports, and administrative staff to support functions. In
addition, members of the Florida Bay restoration—which represents a part
of the overall South Florida restoration initiative—noted that they could
not have developed their science plan without a full-time executive director
because, like SCT members, they have many restoration meetings to attend
and full-time job responsibilities within their agencies to fulfill. Further,
RECOVER program leaders stressed the importance of full-time scientists
devoted to the development of their monitoring and assessment plan.




20
     As of February 2003, the agencies had each provided $25,000.




Page 44                                                     GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Conclusions   The restoration of varied, important ecosystem functions is a complex
              undertaking that depends on the science activities of many federal and
              state agencies. Because no one agency conducts scientific work that
              supports all the restoration goals, coordination of the disparate science
              activities of the different agencies is necessary to ensure that gaps in
              information do not exist and that scientific information is synthesized and
              provided to managers. Furthermore, because the restoration of the
              ecosystem is expected to occur over several decades, coordination of
              scientific efforts and continuity in their orchestration are critical to ensure
              that information related to restoration efforts is updated and made
              available for restoration decisions and that indicators are monitored to
              determine progress toward restoration. Many agencies have already spent
              considerable funds to develop scientific information to support restoration
              decisions, a trend that is expected to continue. Yet, the SCT—the group
              created to coordinate scientific information for the restoration—is limited
              by a number of factors. First, the SCT is limited by the lack of clear
              direction on what it is to accomplish. Second, it has no processes to ensure
              (1) that the Task Force identifies key management issues that need to be
              addressed in science planning and (2) that the SCT, the Working Group, and
              the Task Force prioritize critical science issues requiring synthesis in order
              to provide input into restoration decisions. One such process used by other
              restoration initiatives utilizes an advisory group to review science plans
              and reports. Third, the SCT lacks resources to adequately carry out its
              responsibilities. While the Task Force’s Working Group plans to provide
              administrative resources to the SCT, these resources would not sufficiently
              bolster the SCT to carry out its most important planning and reporting
              responsibilities. Until the factors limiting the SCT are addressed,
              coordination of scientific activities cannot be improved. As a result,
              opportunities to help ensure that (1) scientific gaps are filled, (2) progress
              toward restoration is monitored, and (3) adjustments to restoration
              projects are made where needed will be limited. Without effective
              coordination of scientific activities, the Task Force has scant assurance
              that the scientific information needed to make key restoration decisions
              will be available, decreasing the likelihood that restoration of the South
              Florida ecosystem will be successful.




              Page 45                                          GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Recommendations for   In order to improve the coordination of scientific activities for the South
                      Florida ecosystem restoration initiative, we recommend that, as chair of
Executive Action      the Task Force, the Secretary of the Interior

                      • specify the plans and documents—including a science plan focused on
                        key information gaps, a comprehensive monitoring plan, and progress
                        reports for each plan—that the SCT needs to complete and the time
                        frames for completing them;

                      • establish a process that ensures the Task Force identifies key
                        management issues that need to be addressed by science planning;

                      • establish a process, such as review by an advisory group, to ensure that
                        the SCT, Working Group, and Task Force prioritize issues that require
                        synthesis and are critical to restoration decisions; and

                      • evaluate the SCT’s current staffing needs and allocate sufficient staff,
                        including full-time management staff, to the SCT so that it can carry out
                        its responsibilities.



Agency Comments and   We provided a draft of our report to the Department of the Interior, whose
                      secretary chairs the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, for
Our Response          review and comment. Interior provided us with written comments, which
                      are included in appendix III of this report. Overall, Interior agrees with the
                      major premises of the report that improved coordination among the
                      agencies is necessary and that the Task Force needs to clarify the
                      responsibilities of the SCT and address our other recommendations.
                      Although we did not get formal comments from the other Task Force
                      agencies, we met with representatives of the agencies involved in the
                      restoration effort and discussed our findings and recommendations with
                      them, and Interior consulted them in preparing its written response.
                      Interior noted, however, that the Task Force could not address these
                      recommendations while the report was still in draft because doing so
                      would have led to the premature disclosure of its contents. For this reason,
                      Interior stated that the Task Force would, upon public release of the report,
                      discuss the recommendations and make the ultimate decision on the role of
                      the SCT and on the actions needed to meet our recommendations. Interior
                      also provided several technical changes that we incorporated into the
                      report, as appropriate.




                      Page 46                                          GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Although Interior stated that it agrees with the premise of our report that
scientific activities and information need to be better coordinated, it
expressed reservations about our characterization of the role of the Task
Force in the restoration. In particular, Interior emphasized that the Task
Force has no legal authority to “manage” the restoration efforts and
cautioned that the GAO report could be interpreted as indicating the Task
Force can dictate executive action to its member agencies. We agree that
the Task Force’s role in relation to its member agencies is limited—and
point this out in our report—and that its role is to coordinate and facilitate
restoration activities. We believe that our report and recommendations are
consistent with the authority given the Task Force to “coordinate the
development of consistent policies, strategies, plans, programs, projects,
activities, and priorities” for addressing the restoration of the South Florida
ecosystem. The Task Force created the SCT specifically to coordinate
scientific activities for the restoration, and our report identifies issues that
prevent the SCT from carrying out its responsibilities. Precisely because
the restoration will be the result of diverse agency programs, as Interior
points out, we believe that the specific science documents that we
recommended are necessary to coordinate consistent policies, programs,
activities, and priorities among the multiple agencies conducting scientific
activities in South Florida for restoration. Further, we believe that Interior
underestimates the role that the Task Force has to act as a forum for
coordination to further the cause of restoration. Namely, the Task Force
and its Working Group—made up respectively of agency policy and
decision makers—can and should use the forum to jointly focus on key
restoration issues, including science, and to resolve differences that
prevent progress in achieving restoration.

Concerning the coordination of scientific activities in particular, Interior
said that the report does not adequately acknowledge existing processes
that are being used to obtain scientific information for restoration
decisions. For example, Interior pointed to mechanisms provided to help
implement the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan developed by
the Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District.
Specifically, Interior mentioned the Corps’ pilot projects to investigate
uncertain technologies and the adaptive management program described
in the Corps’ draft programmatic regulations for the plan. However, in
discussing the several different groups that exist to coordinate or manage
various aspects of science for restoration, we included a discussion of the
RECOVER program that is the basis for the Corps’ adaptive management
program. In particular, we acknowledged that this program has developed a
monitoring and assessment plan that will help determine if the water in the



Page 47                                           GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
ecosystem is being restored and whether wetlands are being restored. We
also discussed the Project Delivery Teams that will help to coordinate
scientific information for each of the 55 projects in the Comprehensive
Everglades Restoration Plan. We clearly discussed these matters in the
report while at the same time making our point that similar mechanisms
have not been developed for programs other than the Comprehensive
Everglades Restoration Plan, such as the Multi-Species Recovery Plan or
the exotic plants plan. We did make one clarification in this section,
based on technical comments from Interior, by adding a statement that
RECOVER has developed the only systemwide monitoring and assessment
plan for the restoration.

As a second example of the efforts to obtain scientific information, Interior
pointed to its own, developing science plan for South Florida. Interior
stated that its plan, if successful, may serve as a model for other Task Force
agencies in managing their science programs. We agree that Interior’s plan
may serve as a model, if successful. In fact, we suggested in our report that
Interior’s approach to developing its science plan could serve as an
example for the Task Force, Working Group, and SCT to follow in
developing a science plan for the restoration. We also agree that the
agencies should be encouraged to develop clear science plans related to
restoration and their other activities. However, even with the development
of agency science plans, the actions we recommend—such as a science
plan to fill gaps, a comprehensive monitoring plan, and progress reports for
each plan—continue to be needed for coordination of the diverse activities
that are being and will continue to be pursued.


As arranged with your office, unless you publicly announce the contents
earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report until 8 days after the
date of this letter. At that time, we will send copies to interested
congressional committees and members; the Secretary of the Interior; the
Secretary of the Army; the Secretary of Commerce; the Secretary of
Agriculture; the Administrator, EPA; and the Governor of Florida. We will
make copies available to others upon request. This report will also be
available at no charge on GAO’s Web site at http://www.gao.gov.




Page 48                                          GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
If you or your staff have any questions about this report, please contact
me at (202) 512-3841. The key contributors to this report are listed in
appendix IV.




Barry T. Hill
Director, Natural Resources and Environment




Page 49                                         GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Appendix I

Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                                            AA
                                                                                               ppp
                                                                                                 ep
                                                                                                  ned
                                                                                                    n
                                                                                                    x
                                                                                                    id
                                                                                                     e
                                                                                                     x
                                                                                                     Iis




              To determine the amounts and purposes of federal science funding for the
              South Florida ecosystem restoration, we collected funding information, for
              fiscal years 1993 through 2002, from headquarters and field officials of the
              key federal and state agencies involved in restoration science. The key
              agencies providing restoration science funding are the U.S. Army Corps of
              Engineers; the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service;
              the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric
              Administration; the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service,
              U.S. Geological Survey, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Fish and Wildlife
              Service; the Environmental Protection Agency; and the South Florida
              Water Management District. We asked each agency to provide data
              on appropriations, obligations, and expenditures for the categories
              of restoration science—research, monitoring, and environmental
              assessments. We then converted the data to 2002 constant dollars. Some
              agencies provided estimates because they do not separate funding for
              (1) the three categories—research, monitoring, and environmental
              assessments—or (2) South Florida as opposed to mission-related science
              that may also benefit other restoration efforts as well. Although we did not
              independently verify the data’s accuracy, we compared the data with other
              funding reports in an effort to identify inconsistencies. We also worked
              with the agencies while they prepared their data to increase reporting
              consistency among the agencies. We resolved all substantive
              inconsistencies with agency budget and program officials.

              To determine what gaps in scientific information exist, we identified
              10 important restoration projects and plans and interviewed key managers
              and scientists involved in them. We initially selected projects or plans that
              cost over $100 million and from that group selected projects that were
              underway or expected to be finished by 2005 in order to ensure that enough
              time has passed to identify and begin developing necessary scientific
              information. We also selected projects and plans from different locations
              (e.g., Florida Bay and Kissimmee River) in the ecosystem and some that
              affected the entire ecosystem (e.g., the exotic plants plan). This resulted in
              seven projects for our review. Finally, we added three projects to our list to
              ensure broad coverage of the Corps’ pilot program approach and the Task
              Force’s restoration goals, which otherwise would not have been included in
              our review: a pilot project and its related project under the Corps’
              Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (Biscayne Bay Coastal
              Wetlands project and Wastewater Reuse Pilot project) and a project that
              supports the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force’s third goal
              of restoration (Florida Keys Carrying Capacity Study). To identify
              information gaps based on the 10 projects and plans, we analyzed project



              Page 50                                          GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Appendix I
Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




documents—such as those from the Corps of Engineers—to determine
what information was being developed. We discussed the projects and
information needs with project managers and key scientists involved with
the projects. To identify information needs for restoration plans, we
discussed the plans with appropriate agency officials and analyzed more
detailed documents related to the plans. The 10 projects and plans we
reviewed are a subset of the more than 200 restoration projects and
the analysis is not meant to be generalized to the remaining projects.

To assess the process used to coordinate scientific activities and
information for the restoration effort, we identified the groups that have
responsibility for coordination. We reviewed and analyzed documents,
such as charters and management plans that describe the purpose and
goals for each of these groups. We interviewed the leaders of the different
groups to discuss the coordination efforts undertaken by each group. In
addition, we identified several similar restoration efforts and reviewed
relevant documents and interviewed science managers for these groups to
compare and contrast the organizations, abilities, resources, and staffing
for all the efforts. The other restoration efforts we identified were the
Florida Bay restoration effort, which is part of the overall South Florida
restoration; the restoration of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and
San Francisco Bay, called the CALFED restoration; and the restoration of
the Chesapeake Bay, called the Chesapeake Bay Program.

We conducted our review from April 2002 through February 2003 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.




Page 51                                        GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Appendix II

Expenditures for Federal and State Agencies
for the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration                                                                                                                  Appendx
                                                                                                                                                                   Ii




Table 5: Expenditures for Federal and State Agencies for the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Initiative, Fiscal Years
1993-2002

Dollars in millionsa
                                                                                     Expenditures
                                                                                                                                                       Total
Agency                                             1993        1994     1995     1996     1997    1998     1999     2000     2001    2002         1993-2002c
Department of Commerce
National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration                          1.5          2.1      2.8      3.1      5.1      4.8     5.2      4.3      4.3    4.1                37.1
Department of Agriculture
Agriculture Research
Service                                             3.3          3.5      2.4      2.3      2.2      3.5     4.3      4.3      4.2    4.8                34.9
Department of Defense
Army Corps of Engineers                             0.0          1.7      2.8      0.0      6.1      2.1     3.5      4.4      5.5   11.2                37.5
Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey                              2.2          2.9      7.5    11.7       9.4      9.2     9.0      8.4      8.4    8.5                77.2
National Park Service                               0.0          0.0      0.0      0.0      6.8    10.1      6.1     11.2      8.5    5.3                48.1
Fish and Wildlife Service                           0.4          0.7      0.8      0.9      1.2      1.1     1.1      1.3      1.1    1.2                10.0
Bureau of Indian Affairs                            0.0          0.0      0.4      0.4      0.4      0.4     0.4      0.4      0.4    0.4                 3.4
Environmental Protection
Agencyb                                             1.2          2.3      3.0      3.5      3.2      4.4     2.5      2.1      1.7    0.8                24.7
Federal Totalc                                      8.7         13.2     19.9    21.8     34.4     35.6     32.1     36.5    34.2    36.4               272.8
State of Florida
South Florida Water
Management District                                19.2         25.5     27.5    27.4     26.4     30.5     31.1     37.6    31.9    45.7               302.8
Total Federal and State
Fundingc                                           27.8         37.0     47.4    49.2     60.8     66.1     63.2     74.1    66.0    82.1               575.6
Source: Federal agencies (data), GAO (analysis).
                                                          a
                                                              All dollars have been adjusted to constant fiscal year 2002 dollars.
                                                          b
                                                           Not included under the Environmental Protection Agency’s funding are its Clean Water Act grants and
                                                          its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grants, which total approximately $10 million and $13 million
                                                          respectively. The agency’s Clean Water Act grants are provided for research, monitoring, and
                                                          assessments of water quality in South Florida. Some of the agency’s STAR grants are provided for
                                                          ecosystem research in South Florida.
                                                          c
                                                           The sum of the agency dollars may not equal the totals due to rounding.




                                                          Page 52                                                             GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
                                                   Appendix II
                                                   Expenditures for Federal and State Agencies
                                                   for the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration




Table 6: Expenditures by Federal and State Agencies for Research, Monitoring, and Assessment Activities, Fiscal Years
1993-2002

Dollars in millionsa
                                                                            Expenditures
Agency                                                     Research                  Monitoring                 Assessment            Total 1993-2002c
Department of Commerce
National Oceanic and Atmospheric                                 31.5                          5.6                            0.0                 37.1
Administration
Department of Agriculture
Agriculture Research Service                                     34.9                          0.0                            0.0                 34.9
Department of Defense
Army Corps of Engineers                                          18.7                        14.5                             4.2                 37.5
Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey                                           45.9                          8.1                        23.1                    77.2
National Park Service                                            26.3                          9.3                        12.5                    48.1
Fish and Wildlife Service                                          0.0                       10.0                             0.0                 10.0
Bureau of Indian Affairs                                           3.4                         0.0                            0.0                   3.4
Environmental Protection                                           5.7                       16.4                             2.6                 24.7
Agencyb
Federal Totalc                                                  166.4                        63.9                         42.4                   272.8
State of Florida
South Florida Water Management                                   80.6                       141.3                         80.9                   302.8
District
Total Federal and State Fundingc                                247.0                       205.2                        123.3                   575.6
Source: Federal agencies (data), GAO (analysis).
                                                   a
                                                       All dollars have been adjusted to constant fiscal year 2002 dollars.
                                                   b
                                                    Not included under the Environmental Protection Agency’s funding are its Clean Water Act grants and
                                                   its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grants, which total approximately $10 million and $13 million
                                                   respectively. The agency’s Clean Water Act grants are provided for research, monitoring, and
                                                   assessments of water quality in South Florida. Some of the agency’s STAR grants are provided for
                                                   ecosystem research in South Florida.
                                                   c
                                                    The sum of the agency dollars may not equal the totals due to rounding.




                                                   Page 53                                                             GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Appendix III

Comments from the Department of
the Interior                                                 Appendx
                                                                   iI




               Page 54        GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Appendix III
Comments from the Department of
the Interior




Page 55                           GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Appendix III
Comments from the Department of
the Interior




Page 56                           GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Appendix III
Comments from the Department of
the Interior




Page 57                           GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
Appendix IV

GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                                                         Appendx
                                                                                                    iIV




GAO Contact       Chet Janik (202) 512-6508



Acknowledgments   In addition to the person named above, Susan E. Iott, Jonathan McMurray,
                  Beverly Peterson, Katherine Raheb, and Shelby D. Stephan made key
                  contributions to this report.




(360174)          Page 58                                      GAO-03-345 South Florida Science
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