I'm finishing up a great trip to Florida this week. Tuesday morning, I was with Secretary Salazar and Senator Bill Nelson, along the Tamiami Trail.
No, it's not actually a trail.
It's basically a fill causeway through the heart of the Everglades that was constructed in the early 1900s, connecting Tampa and Miami; hence "Tamiami."
It constricts water flow through the Everglades, and a major part of the Everglades restoration is a project to elevate a 1-mile stretch of the road, allowing water to flow more naturally and letting the "River of Grass" behave more like a river.
But we weren't there to celebrate that project.
We were there to announce our new Lacey Act rule to list 4 species of large constrictor snakes, including Burmese python as injurious and to ban their importation and movement in interstate commerce. Believed to be derived from discarded or escaped pets, there is now a wild, naturally reproducing population of Burmese pythons likely totaling in the tens of thousands.
They can grow to over 20 feet and exceed 200 pounds. On Tuesday, we had a relatively small one on display for a battery of media cameras; a mere 13-footer, weighing about 90 pounds. Plenty of snake for me, thanks very much!
Photo Credit: (Tami Heilemann/Department of Interior)
Today, Dan visited the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge located in our Midwest Region. This is Dan's first visit to a field station since he was confirmed as the Service's 16th Director on June 30th.
Dan (left) was joined by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar (center) and Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius (right). Secretary Salazar was visiting the refuge to announce recent land acquisitions that will protect valuable habitats and provide recreational opportunities for the urban community that surrounds the refuge.
The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is the only International Wildlife Refuge in North America. The refuge includes islands, coastal wetlands, marshes, shoals, and waterfront lands along 48 miles of Detroit River and Western Lake Erie shoreline. Its location is unique -- situated in the heart of a major metropolitan area.
Learn more about the Refuge at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/detroitriver/.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today praised the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Daniel M. Ashe as the 16th Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Ashe, a career employee of the agency, will assume his duties immediately.
"Dan Ashe has served with distinction and integrity in the Fish and Wildlife Service for more than 15 years. He has worked tirelessly to prepare the Service to meet the resource challenges of the 21st century, and his leadership and vision have never been more necessary," said Salazar. "I’m excited to work with him to foster innovative science-driven conservation programs and policies to benefit our nation’s fish and wildlife and its habitat."