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Meridian Institute

Everglades Adaptive Management Program

External Project Site: www.evergladesrestoration.gov/
Related: Environment and Natural Resources

From 2002-2012, Meridian Institute provided process design and facilitation services to RECOVER, the inter-agency body that provides scientific and technical support to managers involved in implementing the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) and the CERP adaptive management strategy. Starting in 2006, Meridian’s expertise was complemented by the technical support of partner Kent Loftin, a senior water resources engineer, adaptive management practitioner, and principal with HydroPlan, LLC.

CERP, which has been described as the world’s largest ecosystem restoration effort, involves making improvements and modifications to the system of canals, levees, and water-control structures that provide water supply, flood protection, and water management to south Florida, in order to restore the south Florida ecosystem and meet other water needs.

Meridian’s earliest work with this project involved facilitating collaborative workshops to assist RECOVER in developing the CERP Adaptive Management Strategy, which is available online. In 2005 and 2006, Meridian mediated the development of a plan for a project-level application of the CERP adaptive management strategy for the Water Conservation Area 3 Decompartmentalization and Sheetflow Enhancement Project (DECOMP). In 2006 and 2007, Meridian provided strategic advice and guidance on how to incorporate the DECOMP Adaptive Management Plan into the US Army Corps of Engineers’ planning process and the DECOMP Project Implementation Plan. (In January 2012, the Army Corps received the final permit for the construction and interim operations of one component of the DECOMP Adaptive Management Plan—the DECOMP Physical Model—from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Installation of this field test is tentatively scheduled to begin in May 2012.) In 2007, Meridian drafted a chapter on stakeholder engagement and collaboration for the CERP Adaptive Management Integration Guide.
 
In 2008, Meridian facilitated the identification of issues that presented obstacles to the implementation of the adaptive management strategy for CERP, and mediated negotiations among implementing and participating agencies to develop solutions to these obstacles. During this period, Meridian also investigated and documented options for collaboration with nongovernment stakeholders for CERP (specifically, options that would be compliant with the Federal Advisory Committee Act), based on the experience of ecosystem management and restoration programs around the country.

In 2009 and early 2010, Meridian facilitated a workshop with CERP managers and scientists to identify mechanisms for integrating new information gained from adaptive management into CERP decision making. Based on this workshop, protocols for multi-stakeholder monitoring and assessment have been incorporated into the CERP Adaptive Management Integration Guide. Concurrent with this process, Meridian coordinated an external expert review of the CERP Adaptive Management Integration Guide and facilitated agreement among the members of the CERP Adaptive Management Interagency Team on edits to the Guide in response to the Expert Review Panel’s comments. From 2010 and 2012, Meridian and partner HydroPlan, LLC, worked with an interagency team to develop a CERP Guidance Memorandum on how to integrate adaptive management into planning.