Originally published by The News-Press on February 1, 2023 by Amy Bennett Williams

The biggest environmental restoration project in the history of the planet just got a report card.

All in all, things are on track. No failing grades, but no raves either. There are plenty “needs to try harder” comments as well. As fishing guide-turned-nonprofit advocate Daniel Andrews of Captains for Clean Water puts it: “It’s working but we have a long road ahead.”

Put together by the National Academy of Sciences, the 318-page “Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Ninth Biennial Review” is an independent look at how things are going as the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan turns 23.

Regular evaluations of the $10.5 billion-plus federal-state effort to fix 1.5 million acres of a World Heritage Site which provides drinking water to 8 million people and shelters a storied, one-of-a-kind ecosystem were written into the original plan signed into law in 2000. The goal: repair damage done by humans who replumbed the River of Grass to accommodate agriculture and development.

Each progress report is a huge production. The most recent involved dozens of scientists supported by 15 staffers. Thirteen others reviewed their report, and the authors include three pages of acknowledgements for those who supplied information, joined in discussions, led field trips or otherwise helped out.

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