HOMESTEAD, Fla. – The National Park Service issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Shark Valley Site Plan Environmental Assessment. The Environmental Assessment analyzed the likely environmental impacts of the project, which proposes improvements to address parking congestion and flooding at the Shark Valley area of Everglades National Park. The FONSI establishes that, based on the Environmental Assessment, there would be no significant impact on the environment as a result of the selected action.
"Not only will this effort address a major safety concern, these improvements will make it more convenient for the public to enter and visit Everglades National Park,” said Superintendent Pedro Ramos of Everglades and Dry Tortugas national parks. “We appreciate all the public input we received to ensure the planned projects deliver a high-quality visitor experience at Shark Valley.”
The purpose of the Shark Valley Site Plan is to enhance visitor safety and experience as well as park operations at Shark Valley. The site plan is expected to make the Shark Valley roads and facilities more resilient to flooding impacts from intensity or frequency of tropical storm events. The proposed improvements will also minimize congestion along the Entrance Road and in the parking lot.
In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the park considered two alternatives and one “no action” alternative in the Environmental Assessment, which was available for a 30-day public comment period from Feb. 9 to March 11, 2023.
The selected action was Alternative C which places the overflow parking lot inside the entrance gate in the same general area as the current lot, north of the visitor center. The existing traffic pattern from the entrance road through the current parking area will remain. If parking in that lot is full, visitors will be able to proceed to the overflow parking lot. The selected alternative will provide the safest vehicular and pedestrian access to the visitor center and will be the least visually intrusive to the surrounding environment.
The other improvements for this project include raising sections of the tram road, adding shade structures and benches along the tram road, raising and widening the entrance road to two inbound lanes and one outbound lane, adding a second fee station and expanding the first to include an employee restroom, and rehabbing the onsite administrative complex for park operations.
This decision has been made after considering environmental impacts to resources including vegetation, wetlands and soils; wildlife and species of special concern; hydrology and water quality; visitor use and experience; human health and safety; and lightscapes and viewsheds. The NPS will implement multiple mitigation measures and best management practices to protect the natural and cultural resources onsite.
The FONSI and related documents are available for viewing at ParkPlanning - Shark Valley Site Plan (nps.gov)
The Shark Valley area is located at 36000 Tamiami Trail, 25 miles west of Krome Avenue. Visitor opportunities include wildlife viewing, walking or biking the tram road, and taking a guided tram tour. For more information visit Shark Valley Visitor Center - Everglades National Park (nps.gov)
Learn more about Everglades National Park online at nps.gov/ever or follow the park on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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