FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 3, 1997

Diana M. Hawkins or

Vicki M. Boatwright

NEW PROJECT LEADER APPOINTED TO CHASSAHOWITZKA
NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE COMPLEX

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has named Elizabeth Souheaver to head the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge Complex on Florida's west coast, approximately 65 miles north of St. Petersburg. Souheaver, who is a 19-year Service veteran, is presently serving as Deputy Project Leader at Southeast Louisiana Refuges in Slidell, Louisiana and will begin her new assignment in early January 1998.

According to the Service's Southeast Regional Director, Sam Hamilton, Souheaver will be a valuable asset to the Chassahowitzka Refuge Complex which encompasses Chassahowitzka, Crystal River, Egmont Key, Passage Key and Pinellas national wildlife refuges, because of her considerable experience in managing Service outreach projects at the seven-refuge, Southeast Louisiana refuge complex. "This experience will be extremely valuable to her in her day-to-day activities working with the local Florida community and with tourism groups to protect and recover the endangered manatee," Hamilton said. "It is an effort that requires collaboration and support from all who appreciate and enjoy these special creatures," he said.

Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge is composed of some 30,500 acres of saltwater bays, estuaries, and brackish marshes, with a fringe of hardwood swamps along its eastern boundary. The northern boundary parallels and includes much of the Homosassa River. The Egmont Key refuge, a 350-acre barrier island, Passage Key and Pinellas refuges were established to provide nesting, feeding, and resting habitat for brown pelicans and other migratory birds.

Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge preserves the remaining unspoiled and undeveloped habitat in Kings Bay. The refuge aids in preserving the endangered manatee and provides critical habitat for approximately 20 percent of the nation's manatee population. Six hundred million gallons of fresh water flow daily from more than thirty natural springs, where temperature of the water flowing from the springs remains a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit. These warm water springs are essential for manatee survival. Manatees are a tropical species and cannot survive for extended periods when water temperatures fall below 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

Souheaver first worked with the Service as a Young Adult Conservation Corp enrollee at Florida's Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. She entered the Service's cooperative education program in 1981 at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where she earned a bachelor of science degree in wildlife ecology in 1984. She began her Service career at Mississippi Sandhill Crane refuge, working with the endangered sandhill crane. Since then, she has served on other national wildlife refuges, including St. Marks, Eufaula, Tensas River, and Mackay Island refuges in the states of Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and North Carolina, respectively.

"I am looking forward to working in Florida again, and I am very proud to assume this new role," Souheaver said, noting that the Service has made great strides in the protection and management of manatees and wetland resources since she worked in Florida nearly 17 years ago. "I hope to continue the many achievements made by previous managers at the complex," she said.

Souheaver will be moving to the Crystal River, Florida, area with her husband and two sons.

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Release #: R97-108


1997 News Releases

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