Everglades National Park Boardwalk Rebuild

Photo courtesy of Folsom Enterprises

Flatwoods Consulting Group Inc. (Flatwoods) was contracted by Folsom Enterprises to provide ecological consulting services for replacement of the West Lake Trail Boardwalk located within Everglades National Park in Miami Dade County, Florida. The West Lake Tail Boardwalk sustained signifcant damage from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Restoration of the boardwalk was vital for National Park Service (NPS) to provide visitor safety and to allow continued access to mangrove and esturary habitat.

The project began by conducting ecological surveys including wetland delineation and listed species surveys. The jurisdictional wetland limits were delineated in accordance with The Florida Wetlands Delineation Manual (Chapter 62-340, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.)) and with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) 1987 Wetlands Delineation Manual, 2010 Supplement. The West Lake Trail Boardwalk runs through a mixed mangrove tidal swamp, with tree species including red mangrove, black mangrove, white mangrove, buttonwood, and strangler fig. A mangrove tree survey was conducted to assess potential impacts during design and construction.

Surveys for species considered Endangered, Threatened, or of Special Concern by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) under 50 CFR 11-12 and by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) under Chapter 68A-27, F.A.C. were conducted. All surveys were conducted in accordance with the FWC Florida Wildlife Conservation Guide, and all signs of wildlife on site were documented. The surveys also focused on bird nests and listed plant. Although no listed species were identified, the project falls within designated critical habitat for both the smalltooth sawfish and the American crocodile.

Flatwoods and the project team used the survey data during the design phase to minimize impacts associated with the wreck out of the damaged structure and construction of the new boardwalk. The design was reviewed for consistency with the NPS Biological Opinion for the Everglades National Park (November 12, 2019). Pre-application meetings were held to coordinate with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), USACE, and FWS. Based on the final design and minimization efforts, it was determined that the project would qualify for an FDEP Exemption under 62-330.051(5)(d), F.A.C. and Nationwide Permits 3 & 6 from the USACE. These authorizations were obtained, and pre-construction activities commenced