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National Wildlife Refuges To Receive Help from Congress in Battle Against Invasive Species

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 19, 2002

Contact:
Serena Rinker, 561/732-3684, ext.109
Bert Byers, cell: 772/321-5960


Florida Congressman Clay Shaw and National Park Service Director Fran Mainella visited A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Palm Beach County today to announce legislation in the House of Representatives that will provide $2 million to help national wildlife refuges like Loxahatchee in the battle against invasive species.

The event was one of hundreds across the country marking National Wildlife Refuge Week, October 13-19. Shaw and Mainella joined Evan Hirsche of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, members of the Loxahatchee Natural History Association,
refuge staff, and Boy Scout Troop Number 325 from Boca Raton to remove Brazilian pepper, one of several plants invading the refuge.

“The problem of non-native plants and animals is one of the greatest problems facing our environment,” said Congressman Shaw of the 22nd District. “That is why I am proud to announce that $2 million has been set aside in the House of Representatives to battle these alien invaders on national wildlife refuges.”

National Park Service Director Mainella talked about the importance of national wildlife refuges as this system of wildlife lands approaches its 100th anniversary in March 2003.

“I think President Theodore Roosevelt, who started the National Wildlife Refuge System, would be proud of the partnership between the National Park Service at Everglades National Park and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service here at Loxahatchee,” said Mainella. “Together, we are protecting the northernmost and southernmost portions of one of the world’s most endangered ecosystems.”

Mainella pointed out that President Bush’s 2003 budget proposes a $56 million increase, the largest budget increase ever, for the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Located close to Boynton Beach, A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge conserves the last remaining habitat of the northern Everglades. The refuge hosts thousands of migratory waterfowl and wading birds, including the federally endangered wood stork. Yet Loxahatchee, established in 1951, is also home to three of Florida’s most invasive exotic plants – melaleuca, Old World climbing fern, and Brazilian pepper. Together, these non-native plant species infest about 100,000 of the refuge’s total 147,392 acres.

In 2001, more than 300,000 visitors enjoyed hiking, fishing, hunting, canoeing, and observing wildlife on the refuge.

Last week the National Wildlife Refuge Association released Silent Invasion, a report chronicling the problem of invasive species on our national wildlife refuges. The report is available at http://www.refugenet.org.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System that encompasses 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies. In March 2003, the Service will celebrate the centennial anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge System.


Brazilian Pepper Fact Sheet
National Invasive Link

Battle Against Invasive Species:  Images

 



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2001 News Releases

   
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