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Refuge Manager at Loxahatchee Wins National Take Pride Award


November 9, 2005

Tom MacKenzie, 404/679-7291
Mark Musaus, 561-732-3684

Mark Musaus, refuge manager at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Boynton Beach, recently received the 2005 National Take Pride Award for outstanding U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Public Lands Manager. The Department of Interior award is presented annually.

“Mark’s leadership has forged new partnerships and strengthened existing ones, and the refuge’s programs are thriving as a result,” said Sam D. Hamilton, the Service’s Southeast Regional Director. “For instance, through these partnerships, Mark has more than tripled the amount of funding available to control invasive exotics, such as the melaleuca tree, on the refuge.”

Musaus has also created a partnership with the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation which is involved in restoring and preserving the Everglades. The Foundation annually helps recruit more than 400 volunteers (children and adults) to help restore old growth cypress habitat on the refuge. To date, more than 10,000 seedlings have been planted on more than 10 acres on the refuge.

The refuge manager at Loxahatchee for seven years, Musaus also serves on the Refuge System’s National Mentor Team to start new Friends groups for refuges and increase volunteer efforts with established groups. Loxahatchee’s group of volunteers, Friends of Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, recently donated more than $35,000 to help fund a new fishing pier that will be built at refuge headquarters. The group also operates a bookstore in the refuge visitor center. Bookstore funds support refuge educational and environmental programs.

In partnership with the Audubon Society of the Everglades, Loxahatchee hosts the Everglades Day Festival on the second Saturday each February. More than 3,000 visitors attended the event last February and enjoyed guided walks and educational programs.

Throughout the year, more than 300,000 people enjoy refreshed boat ramps, a 12-mile bike trail with scenic views and opportunities to see wildlife, and a high school student program for environmental education field trips.

“We have changed the image of the refuge from one that was negative because the refuge was closed to the public to one where the refuge is known as a great place to experience nature, see wildlife, and lean more about the Everglades,” said Musaus.

Musaus started his Service career as a student trainee at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge during the summer of 1974. Since then he has served at several Southeastern refuges before returning to Loxahatchee as refuge manager. He worked at the following refuges as either assistant manager or deputy project leader: Choctaw NWR in Jackson, Alabama; J. N. “Ding” Darling NWR in Sanibel, Florida; Piedmont NWR in Round Oak, Georgia; Tennessee NWR in Paris, Tennessee; and Savannah Coastal Refuges in Georgia.

“There are lots of refuge managers across the country doing great things for natural resources and the public that are worthy of recognition,” said Musaus about receiving his Take Pride Award. “I am honored to represent them as well.”

Established in 1951, the 147,392-acre Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee NWR occupies the last of the northern Everglades. More than 250 different species of birds, including the endangered Everglades snail kite, use the refuge’s wetlands. American alligators can also be seen on the refuge.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses 545 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.

Mark Musaus
Mark Musaus

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