Port Everglades Achieves Another Milestone Toward State Approval to Proceed with Mangrove Habitat Plan
Broward County's Port Everglades has moved another step forward to finalizing an Agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to release of a portion of an existing conservation easement in favor of creating a new, larger mangrove wetland habitat, leading to expanded berth space at the South Florida seaport. This action would allow the Port to expand its existing Southport Turning Notch to create new berths as well as accommodate larger cargo ships.
Yesterday, the Broward County Board of County Commissioner voted unanimously to approve the Agreement.
"We often talk about the ‘poster child' of things going wrong. But this [Agreement] is a ‘poster child' of things going right," said Broward County Mayor Ken Keechl. He added that he and other Commissioners had doubts about the project when first presented to them in May 2008, but is pleased with the resulting project plan as the Port worked closely with FDEP, the South Florida Audubon Society, and other representatives of the environmental community to reach consensus on the approach to release the existing conservation easement. In February 2010, the Broward County Commission asked Port Everglades Director Phil Allen to begin negotiating details of the Agreement with FDEP.
The Agreement provides for the release of approximately 8.68 acres west of the Turning Notch from the existing 48.27-acre conservation easement in Southport after the Port creates an approximately 16.5-acre fully functioning mangrove wetland habitat on port property.
The project will enable the Port to extend the Southport Turning Notch by approximately 950 feet, which will accommodate larger ships that will be available with the expansion of the Panama Canal and create additional berth space for the size of cargo ships that currently call at Port Everglades.
"The ability to expand the Turning Notch, which cargo ships use to turn around and travel safely inside the Intracoastal Waterway, is crucial to Port Everglades remaining competitive as ships become larger and need longer, deeper berths," said Port Director Phil Allen. "The conservation easement release is a key component of the Port Everglades 20-Year Master/Vision Plan."
Port officials worked closely with port users, the environmental community, and FDEP to develop the plan for the new mangrove habitat, which has been endorsed by the Port Everglades Association, an organization representing a diverse group of port tenants, users, and service providers.
Broward County Commissioners adopted the 2006 Port Everglades Master/Vision Plan in December 2007. This plan developed a comprehensive and realistic five-year capital improvement plan within the framework of 10 and 20-year vision plans for all of the Port's business sectors. The first update to this document began in February 2009 and is estimated to be completed in Fall 2010. The total estimated cost for 20-year Vision Plan projects is $2 billion.
Port Everglades is one of the nation's leading container ports and a trade gateway to Latin America and Caribbean. Port Everglades has direct access to the interstate highway system, is within two miles of the FEC rail hub and is just one mile from the Atlantic Shipping Lanes. Ongoing capital improvements and expansion ensure that Port Everglades will have the ability to handle future growth in container traffic. A world-class cargo handling facility, Port Everglades serves as an ideal point of entry for products shipped around the world.
More information about Broward County's Port Everglades is available on the Internet at http://www.porteverglades.net or by calling toll-free in the United States 1-800-421-0188 or emailing PortEvergladesCargo@broward.org .