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Florida Lake Management Society Annual Conference, Naples, Florida, June 4 – 7, 2007

CERP Adaptive Management: Sustainability of a Longterm Monitoring and Assessment Effort in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan

Greg Graves South Florida Water Management District West Palm Beach, Florida

The value of environmental monitoring data is almost invariably a function of the expanse of time addressed. Environmental processes are often slow, and recovery of systems being restored can be slower than the processes that resulted in their impairment. Changes may occur over years or decades. In addition, ecological datasets are notoriously variable. Variation may arise from the methods used to collect samples or observations, and from the timing and spatial coverage which are always fiscally driven limitations. Unusually wet or dry years and, as is particularly true in Florida, large storms can compound this variability.

In variation.

order to successfully detect change, the extent of change must exceed the natural A dataset that precedes an activity that seeks to intentionally bring about a change in

an environmental system must be of sufficient length to at least make estimates about how and why the thing being monitored behaves. The degree to which we must understand the thing being measured is a function of the scale of the change expected - a sufficiently large and abrupt

change in condition could As a rule, provided we are

be easily detected. However, changes are often subtle and complex. measuring the correct set of variables in the correct way at the correct

frequency, the longer the dataset the better understood are and the greater likelihood that changes will be detectable.







Historically, the success rate for maintaining the effort necessary to accomplish long-term monitoring efforts has been very low. Priorities change. What was an overarching issue today is of little concern tomorrow. Personnel change and as a result to pool of available expertise, abilities, and commitment may change as well. Datasets that develop large discontinuities as a result of programs sporadically coming on and offline may lose much of their value that they might otherwise have had if they were sustained.

The commitment to sustain monitoring equates with a commitment to expend money. Monitoring can be expensive. It therefore behooves all concerned that the correct suite of monitoring objectives is well defined and focused. Since there is no way to return to the past to correct the error of omission, failure to identify the critical pieces of the environmental puzzle may compromise not only the interpretation of the monitoring effort, but may also equate with the loss of large sums of money that might have otherwise been better spent elsewhere. Such scenarios must be avoided.

Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Program (CERP) is a complicated restoration

project containing many uncertainties. management to decrease uncertainty and


Lead shape

agencies and guide

have committed to the restoration effort.

use adaptive Expectations

regarding what constitutes restoration, except perhaps

“restoration” differ. the most minimalist

The vision

realization of of restoration,

any interpretation must be tempered

of by

Session 10 – Page 2

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