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Dispute Over Invasive Fern Threatens National Wildlife Refuge

Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

An invasive fern is at the heart of a dispute threatening a national wildlife refuge in the Florida Everglades.

The South Florida Water Management District owns the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages the 144,000-acre refuge, but now the water management district is threatening to terminate its 65-year lease. Here’s Charles Lee of Audubon of Florida.

“It’s what we would consider to be unprecedented action that does not fit in with the norm in terms of how the states and the federal government have cooperated on national wildlife refuges.”

The water management district says Fish and Wildlife has failed to manage invasive species like the Old World Climbing Fern.

“They’re failing miserably with their invasive plant control,” says Randy Smith, a water management district spokesman. “They understand the money is necessary yet they haven’t even bothered to even go to Congress in the first place to secure the money.”

Fish and Wildlife says invasive species are a problem throughout the Everglades.

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Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

Amy Green covers the environment and climate change at WMFE News. She is an award-winning journalist and author whose extensive reporting on the Everglades is featured in the book MOVING WATER, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and podcast DRAINED, available wherever you get your podcasts. Amy’s ... Read Full Bio »