Developing Sustainable Visitor Facilities, Everglades National Park, Florida
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Posted byRachel Gregg
Visitor facilities in the Flamingo area of Everglades National Park in Florida were destroyed by two hurricanes in 2005. Incorporating climate change sustainability into the redevelopment plan has required extensive data gathering efforts and public engagement.
Until 2005 the Flamingo area of Everglades National Park was the park’s primary destination and the only location offering overnight accommodations and providing direct access to the park’s vast wilderness. Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma in 2005 caused severe impacts to Flamingo facilities including National Park Service (NPS) visitor facilities and concessions, including all lodging units. Due to the resulting damage, Flamingo has been relegated to a day-use/camping area. The NPS has been working with the public and key stakeholders to determine and implement a sustainable rebuilding effort. With overwhelming public support, plans were completed to define the new, sustainable Flamingo vision for the 21st century, including consideration of sea level and coastal storm threats. Then, in 2011, Director Jarvis expressed concerns about the project due to its cost and threats from climate change. Due to its coastal location on Florida Bay, a few feet above sea level, Flamingo is susceptible to storm surge, sea level rise, and hurricane-force winds. The Flamingo project needed to be revised with consideration of the location’s vulnerability.
In 2011 the Flamingo project was revised to address these climate vulnerability concerns and to focus more on sustainable redevelopment strategies consistent with park goals and ensuring that the park’s future concessions partner is provided a strong business opportunity. With the Director’s support, the planning and decision making now underway is occurring as part of the concessions prospectus process and is incorporated into the park’s long-term vision as described in the new general management plan, completed in 2015. The result will be a refined Flamingo vision that is sustainable for the next 50 years using the best available climate change data together with appropriate laws and policies for protecting Flamingo’s unique resources and enhancing its visitor experiences.
Outcomes and Conclusions
Metrics to evaluate the success of project implementation will be related to natural and cultural resource protection, quality of visitor experiences, success of the NPS-concessioner partnership, and site viability in terms of future climate-change related events and knowledge. Short-term metrics will be associated with the successful approval of the project within the agency (achieved in November 2012) given the scrutiny it has received for a new development in a coastal high-hazard zone, and completion of a successful concessions contract process in 2015.
- Guidance on how to develop and manage projects with potential climate-change considerations, and how to locate relevant data sources
- Direction from Washington Support Office (WASO) Directorates on expectations for evaluating complex (and sometimes competing) information in a world of diminishing public resources (money and staff)
- Guidance for managing agency and public expectations regarding the level and pace of progress that can be expected
- Ecosystem-, landscape-, or threat-based models for addressing resource management, visitor experience and investment decisions that consider climate-change factors
- Bibliographies, references, and sources of information that can help get project teams thinking about and organizing project scope requirements comprehensively
- Project management tools that facilitate projects occurring efficiently and result in good decisions (e.g., sample work plans, interdisciplinary teams, project/task agreements, and schedules that take into account all key steps)
- Development of national policies and guidance documents that recognize the need for, and incorporate, local or regional flexibility to consider site- or project-specific conditions (e.g., fulfilling Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements; using optimal, not necessarily minimum contract length)
This project is expected to take 5–10 years to complete.
This case study is part of the 2015 National Park Service report, Coastal Adaptation Strategies: Case Studies. These case studies initially were developed by park managers as part of a NPS-led coastal adaptation training in May 2012. The case studies follow the format created for EcoAdapt’s Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE) database, including a list of adaptation strategies. All case studies were updated and modified in September 2013 and March 2015 in response to a growing number of requests from coastal parks and other coastal management agencies looking for examples of climate change adaptation strategies for natural and cultural resources and assets along their ocean, lacustrine, and riverine coasts.
Herling, F. (2015). Developing Sustainable Visitor Facilities, Everglades National Park, Florida [Case study on a project of Everglades National Park]. Excerpted from Schupp, C.A., R.L. Beavers, and M.A. Caffrey [eds.]. 2015. Coastal Adaptation Strategies: Case Studies. NPS 999/129700. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado. Retrieved from CAKE: www.cakex.org/case-studies/developing-sustainable-visitor-facilities-ev…;(Last updated November 2015)