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Interagency Synthesis of Scientific Information, South Florida

Project Proposal for 1999

USGS Geologic Division
Project Proposal FY 1999

Project title: Interagency Synthesis of Scientific Information, South Florida
Geographical area: South Florida
Project start date: 1998
Project end date: 2001

Project chief: Benjamin F. McPherson
Region/Division: S.E. region; WRD
Email: bmcphers@usgs.gov
Phone: 813-884-9336 next 126
Fax: 813-889-9811
Mailing address: USGS, 4710 Eisenhower Blvd., Suite .B-5
Tampa, Florida 33634

Project summary: State and Federal agencies are committed to the protection and restoration of the Florida Everglades and the south Florida environment. As a result, a large amount of scientific data and information has been, is, and will be generated to support restoration. There is a need to synthesize these data and information to make it accessible to the public and to better assist resource managers in making decisions. The purpose of this project is to synthesize the scientific research and data through compilation and summarization and to present the research findings in an easily understandable, integrative, and pertinent manner.

Project objectives and strategy: Scientific information is being generated in south Florida to meet broad political interests and goals for protection and restoration of the Everglades and the south Florida environment. The State of Florida passed the Everglades Forever Act in 1994, thereby establishing a comprehensive program to restore portions of the Everglades. A major plan is being developed by the Corp of Engineers in cooperation with the State (The Restudy) to alter patterns of water flow in the region as part of restoration. A coalition of Federal and State agencies and Indian tribes, the South Florida Ecological Restoration Task Force, was established to guide the protection and restoration effort. The Task Force has a local Working Group that deals with management issues. The Working Group is advised by the recently established Science Coordination Team (SCT), formerly the Science Sub-group. The SCT promotes interactions of scientists and managers in the planning and evaluation of projects related to restoration. The SCT is developing a peer reviewed Science Plan for south Florida.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is beginning synthesis for its South Florida Ecosystem Program. The approach adopted by the USGS could serve as a guide or prototype for interagency synthesis. The schedule for the USGS Ecosystem Program is ideal for developing and testing an approach and implementation plan for interagency synthesis. The approach for the USGS synthesis will be to summarize each of the approximately 70 Ecosystem projects into 70 short, 2-page reports that contain the main findings of each project and to distribute these reports at a symposium in the winter of 1999. Review and discussion of these short reports and presentations will serve as the basis for topical synthesis of critical resource issues and will summarize the USGS Ecosystem Program from 1996 through 1998. The topical synthesis reports will be drafted for review in early 2000. Interagency synthesis would follow and be completed in 2001.

The goal of interagency synthesis in south Florida will be to draw on various scientific sources in developing concise descriptions and coverages of significant issues related to resource management. Synthesis will include the consolidation of information from different agencies and universities, different disciplines, and different approaches into an overall account of a specific issue or geographical area.

An initial strategy for interagency synthesis will be to decide how to subdivide synthesis subjects by geography, topics, issues, or agency. Six subregions delineated by the Working Group could serve as geographical areas for synthesis, however in some cases topics and issues cross these subregion boundaries. An effective strategy calls for flexibility in deciding how to subdivide synthesis subjects.

The priority for selecting topics and issues for interagency synthesis will depend upon their relevance and potential to meet the needs of environmental managers. Likely synthesis topics include: water flow, hydroperiods, water-quality issues including nutrients and contaminants, exotic species, endangered species, and biological community dynamics.

Potential impacts and major products: Development of an interagency plan will require multi-agency participation, frequent communication with the SCT, review and communication with independent experts, and workshops to present and review progress. Synthesis results and progress can be made available to resource managers, scientists, and the interested public through various means including the interned, workshops, symposia, newsletters, and reports.

Collaborators, clients: USGS scientists and managers, members of the SCT and the Working Group, other agency and university scientists.


Overall: Continue to work closely with USGS scientists and managers, with scientists from other agencies, and with the Working Group and SCT to develop a plan and to implement interagency synthesis in south Florida.

Time line (FY1999 through FY 2001):

FY 1999

In consultation with the USGS Ecosystem Program and with the SCT, develop a plan for inter-agency synthesis, to include topics, issues, and geographical areas that will be emphasized in synthesis. Strive to obtain consensus among principal agencies in developing the plan.

Develop plans to make synthesis results available through the interned workshops, and reports.
Work with the SCT to develop a section on synthesis for the south Florida Science Plan.

I estimate about a month of my time in FY 1999 for these tasks.

FY 2000

Continue to assemble scientific information on restoration, environmental issues, modeling results, and other approaches of ecosystem science, and begin to summarize these in an easily understandable, integrative, and pertinent manner.

Review and finalize synthesis topics and critical resource issues for reports.

Use USGS 2-page synthesis reports and presentations, and other agenciesí data and reports to begin interagency synthesis report(s). Work closely with USGS scientists as they develop their topical synthesis reports to include these in the interagency synthesis.

I estimate about half time in FY 2000 for my effort.

FY 2001

Continue with synthesis report(s), prepare draft(s) for interagency and USGS review, and complete reports.

I estimate about two-thirds of my time during FY 2001 to complete the synthesis effort.


Section for the SCT south Florida Science Plan on the need and approach for interagency synthesis.

Interagency synthesis reports of scientific research in south Florida.

Proposersí previous experience in the projectís topic or geographical area:

I have more than 30 year experience in south Florida environmental issues and study.
I have completed more than 50 reports on south Florida for journals and government publications,
including three that are synthesis products:

The Environment of south Florida, a Summary report. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1101, 81 p, 1976.

Physical, Chemical, and Biological Characteristics of the Charlotte Harbor Basin and Estuarine
System in southwestern Florida --A Summary of the 1982-89 U.S. Geological Survey Charlotte
Harbor Assessment and other studies. U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 2486, 32p, 19,

The south Florida Environment --- A Region Under Stress, U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1134, 6lp, 1996.

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