Everglades’ Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge Receives Stimulus Funding to Remove Invasive Species, Restore Natural Habitats
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 29, 2010
Philip Kloer, Philip_Kloer@fws.gov, 404/679-7125
Boynton Beach, Florida – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded a $1.25 million contract for removal of invasive plants at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
The ARRA contract, awarded to Aquatic Vegetation Control, Inc., of West Palm Beach, Fla., will be used to remove invasive plant species from about 9,000 acres of the refuge, including Melaleuca, Old World climbing fern, Brazilian pepper and Australian pine.
"These non-native plants pose a serious threat to the delicate ecological balance of the Everglades and their removal will greater enhance this precious national treasure,” Secretary Salazar said. "In addition, the ARRA funding will provide employment for several dozen skilled workers who will be executing this project throughout much of 2010.”
Melaleuca is the primary target of the removal project, said Lisa Jameson, invasive species biologist at Loxhatchee. “It’s a persistent weed,” she said. “It will out-compete the native vegetation which provides food and habitat for our wildlife on the refuge.”
Aquatic Vegetation Control, which has worked with the Service on similar projects, will use a variety of techniques to control Melaleuca and other non-native vegetation, including hand-cutting individual trees through the bark and applying pesticide, and hand-pulling saplings. Other techniques the Service uses to control non-native vegetation are aerial spraying, prescribed burns and biological controls.
With over 221 square miles of Everglades habitat, the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee Refuge is home to the American alligator and the critically endangered Everglade snail kite. The refuge is located about 10 miles west of Boynton Beach, Florida.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 gave $3 billion to the Department of the Interior. The ARRA funds represent an important component of the President’s plan to jumpstart the economy and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so the country can thrive in the 21st century.
Under the ARRA, Interior is making an investment in conserving America's timeless treasures – our stunning natural landscapes, our monuments to liberty, the icons of our culture and heritage – while helping American families and their communities prosper again. Interior is also focusing on renewable energy projects, the needs of American Indians, employing youth and promoting community service.
“With its investments of Recovery Act funds, the Department of the Interior and its bureaus are putting people to work today to make improvements that will benefit the environment and the region for many years to come,” Secretary Salazar said.
Secretary Salazar has pledged unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Department’s economic recovery projects. The public will be able to follow the progress of each project on www.recovery.gov and on www.interior.gov/recovery. Secretary Salazar has appointed a Senior Advisor for Economic Recovery, Chris Henderson, and an Interior Economic Recovery Task Force to work closely with Interior’s Inspector General and ensure the recovery program is meeting the high standards for accountability, responsibility, and transparency set by President Obama.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For questions, comments or concerns email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.