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Protect Florida’s coral reefs!

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South Florida is home to the only coral reef system in the continental United States, and it is in danger.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is poised to start a major dredging project in Port Everglades without implementing protections that will save nearby corals. Eighty to ninety percent of the coral reef has already died or been badly harmed, and this proposed project will cause even more damage. Write to your representative and tell them that you want the Corps and NOAA to ensure that dredging impacts don’t destroy corals and coral habitat in Port Everglades!

During a similar dredging project at the Port of Miami, the Corps illegally harmed 10 times the number of corals it had predicted would be damaged, causing impacts from sedimentation to an area of reef more than 200 football fields in size. We can’t let that happen in Port Everglades.

The Corps has signed the Record of Decision for the Port Everglades project, which makes it eligible for congressional approval, and the Senate recently approved the Water Resources Development Act, which includes language to authorize the Port Everglades dredging. Now it’s up to the House of Representatives to weigh in on the project.

Florida’s waters are critically important to the state’s economic well-being and its residents’ quality of life. Earthjustice has fought for years to ensure that these waters are protected. Together we must ask Congress to ensure that the Corps issues a supplemental or new environmental impact statement and biological opinion for the Port Everglades project. Take action today!

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Earthjustice’s Florida Office Miami Waterkeeper

Your message:

Don't destroy corals and coral habitat in Port Everglades!

Dear Decisionmaker,



The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is poised to start a major dredging project in Port Everglades without implementing protections that will save nearby corals. During a similar dredging project at the Port of Miami, the Corps illegally harmed 10 times the number of corals it had predicted and created fine-grained sediment that smothered and choked coral over an area greater than the size of approximately 200 football fields. I ask that you ensure that the Corps and the National Marine Fisheries Service use best available and new information from the Port of Miami dredging project to increase and improve reef protections for ESA-listed corals before the dredging in Port Everglades is authorized.

The Corps has signed the Record of Decision for the Port Everglades project, which makes it eligible for congressional approval. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee both recently approved the water resources development bills that include language to authorize the Port Everglades dredging. Broward County is beginning to spend money on the first phases of the project. But the Corps' current project plan for Port Everglades is based on demonstrably false data and assumptions, and fails to protect imperiled coral in the following ways:

(1) The environmental impact statement (EIS) and biological opinion (BiOp) for the project predict the impacts will extend only 150m from the channel, but the impacts due to dredging in Miami extended up to 700-1000m from the channel.

(2) The EIS and the BiOp rely on 2010 surveys intended to identify ESA-listed corals in the impact area, which are likely inaccurate. The same 2010 surveys in Miami underestimated the amount of ESA-listed corals in the area by over 10 times.

(3) The Port Everglades EIS and BiOp assume that only 2 percent of the buffer area (currently out 150m from the channel) might be permanently impacted by sedimentation, but a recent NMFS report shows that 4 percent of the reef out beyond 700m from the Miami channel was found to have been permanently destroyed.

(4) The Port Everglades EIS and BiOp use the same turbidity limit (29 NTUs), that was used during the Miami project even though that limit was too high to protect corals from dredging-related impacts.

(5) The Port Everglades EIS and BiOp allow for dewatering, which caused massive plumes of sediment that fell on the reef and smothered corals in Port Miami.

(6) The Port Everglades EIS and BiOp allow the Corps to place corals "relocated" for mitigation purposes too close to the dredging, as in Miami.

(7) The Port Everglades EIS and BiOp rely on adaptive management to protect corals during the dredging, but months of adaptive management during dredging in Miami failed to protect the reefs.

We ask that you ensure that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reinitiates consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service and revises its environmental impact statement to adequately analyze the impacts of dredging and provide protections for ESA-listed corals before beginning dredging in Port Everglades.

Don't let history repeat itself at Port Everglades!

Sincerely,

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