Why does Archie Carr NWR need a comprehensive conservation plan?
Encroaching development, increasing pollution, degrading and disappearing habitat, expanding exotics, and limiting staffing and funding threaten to undermine all refuges. Concurrently, the demand to use these refuges in varying ways has increased dramatically, especially in Florida with over 74 million annual visitors and where over 17 million people reside.
Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge
Sea turtles are threatened with extinction throughout the world. The Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) hosts the largest nesting population of loggerhead and green sea turtles in the US, with a quarter of all loggerhead sea turtle nests and a third of all green sea turtle nests. The 20.5-mile long Refuge annually averages 10,000 – 22,000 nests (on average the range is 500-1,000 nests per mile). Fewer than 300 nests per year are green sea turtles and leatherback sea turtles. Nesting averages for loggerhead, green, and leatherback sea turtles have increased since the Refuge was established. The Archie Carr NWR rivals the beaches of Masirah Island, Sultanate of Oman as the most important nesting beach for loggerhead sea turtles in the world. Further, Archie Carr provides connectivity to the Indian River Lagoon and Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, which is very important for juvenile sea turtles.
The Archie Carr NWR is a fragmented, linear refuge under multiple ownership located along a 20.5-mile stretch of barrier island in southeast Florida. It includes maritime hammock, coastal scrub, and the most diverse estuary in the US. The Refuge contains least 30 archaeological sites (primarily Ais Indian shell middens, with 4 burial mounds).
Over 20% of the lands located within the Refuge's proposed acquisition boundary have already been developed, predominantly as residential and commercial uses. Scrub habitat in the area of the Refuge has declined such that only one family of scrub jays remains. The foredune habitat of the Southeastern beach mouse has suffered greatly from erosion and the population is declining, if not extirpated from this area. Human disturbances are increasing and include a tremendous increase in lighting along the beach, nighttime public use of the beach, commercial and residential development, and elevated nutrient loading and pollution on the waterways. These threaten the protected natural resources located within and benefiting from the Refuge, including threatened and endangered species such as the Right whale, West Indian manatee, loggerhead sea turtle, green sea turtle, Kemp's ridley sea turtle, hawksbill sea turtle, leatherback sea turtle, Florida scrub jay, roseate tern, piping plover, Gopher tortoise, and Eastern indigo snake.
|The trust resources, native diversity, and functional existence of the Archie Carr NWR are imperiled. Only through the development of a vision for the Refuge and the active pursuit of this vision will these resources have a chance. Committed plan implementation is the key to the future of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge.|