Florida Partners Win National Coastal Award
March 10, 2011
Ken Warren, USFWS, email@example.com
Andy Flanner of the Florida Park Service leads USFWS's Debbie DeVore, DOI's Eileen Sobeck and others on a tour of St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park. Credit: Ken Warren, USFWS
Stuart, Fla. – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners in a four-county Florida coastal area recently received the Obama Administration’s top environmental award.
The 2010 Coastal America Partnership Award was presented to the Treasure Coast Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area Partnership at the St. Lucie Inlet Preserve Park by Eileen Sobeck, the Department of Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks and Virginia Tippie, Director of the Coastal America Partnership. The Florida partners were recognized for efforts to fight invasive species.
In 2008, the Service’s Coastal Program funded a multi-year effort, currently totaling $134,000, to remove Scaevola taccada as well as other invasive exotics in beach dune systems throughout Indian River, Martin, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties on Florida’s east coast.
Invasive plants are harmful to native ecosystems. They displace native plants, degrade or eliminate habitat for native wildlife, and also impact recreation, affect fire frequency, alter soil properties and decrease biodiversity.
Before presenting the awards, Sobeck read a letter of congratulations from Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, adding that Florida has become the Secretary Salazar’s unofficial home away from home. “He understands and appreciates the ecological and conservation values you have here in Florida,” she said. “The effort that goes into a successful project like this requires leadership, collaboration and looking beyond normal boundaries. Thanks for doing all of that and more.”
The Treasure Coast partnership was established in 2007 to implement a comprehensive, cooperative approach across boundaries to address the threats of invasive species. More than a dozen active partners have provided technical expertise and coordination for on-the-ground habitat restoration. In addition to the counties and the Service, the partners include The Nature Conservancy, the Florida Park Service, the Treasure Coast Resource Conservation and Development Council and the University of Florida.
Tippie saluted the partners. “This is a striking example. You’re a model for others across the country to emulate.”
Coastal America is a partnership of federal, state and local governments and private alliances dedicated to restoring and preserving the nation’s coastlines. The group also praised the Treasure Coast partnership for its “innovative efforts to implement a comprehensive, cooperative approach” while protecting other natural resources.
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. Its Coastal Program is the Service’s vanguard for non-regulatory, voluntary, citizen and community-based stewardship efforts for fish and wildlife conservation. It’s based on the premise that fish and wildlife conservation is a responsibility shared by citizens and government. The Service provides willing partners with financial and technical assistance to accomplish stewardship projects that benefit federal trust species such as migratory birds and threatened and endangered species.