To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing to express my strong concerns about the Port Everglades dredging project. I urge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do everything in its power to avoid the severe and widespread impacts to our coral reefs that occurred during the Port of Miami dredging project. As proposed, the project would have serious harmful effects on our precious coral reefs, which aren’t accounted for or addressed in the environmental analysis the Corps has conducted thus far.
Corals are currently suffering from a range of stressors and lack the capacity to deal with additional sedimentation and turbidity stress. Please use the best available science to fully and accurately analyze the impacts from the Port of Miami and develop necessary monitoring and mitigation measures to protect coral reef habitat around Port Everglades. For example, storms and hurricanes do not simulate the same sedimentation that corals experience during a dredging project and should never be used to approximate damage to reefs from a dredging project.
Third party oversight is essential in order to obtain objective, unbiased data interpretation, reports, and surveys. Also, this data should be made available to the public and to scientists in an easy to analyze format (e.g. not as a PDF) and in a timely manner. Furthermore, the Corps must expand monitoring and mitigation for the Port Everglades project in order to account for any anticipated or unanticipated impacts to at least 1000m from the channel. Current coral impacts and mitigation estimates are drastically underestimated.
Additionally, I ask that the Corps implement mandatory regulations to prevent corals and coral reef habitat from being harmed in the first place. Simply relying on adaptive management to address coral impacts after they happened failed in Miami. Strict limits should be placed on sedimentation and turbidity that trigger an automatic shutdown of the project if exceeded. A full analysis of disease risks resulting from dredging proximity should be conducted.
Please help to protect our coral reef ecosystems from the potentially hazardous impacts of dredging. Your agency has a duty to protect ESA-listed corals, reef habitat, and a myriad of fish and wildlife communities that depend on coral reefs while the Corps pursues its plan to deepen and widen the port. The public is relying on the Army Corps to protect our reefs. As a member of the public, I urge you to avoid making the same mistakes that were made in Port Miami and to strengthen your environmental review with sound science and appropriate mitigation and monitoring in every way possible. Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments and for your efforts to protect our coral reefs in Fort Lauderdale.