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The Arthur R. Marshall Nation Wildlife Refuge.

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Introduction

The Arthur R. Marshall Nation Wildlife Refuge 1 The Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge is one of five hundred refuges in the United States, which provide habitats for many native, endangered and exotic species of plants and animals. This refuge, also referred to as Water Conservation Area 1 (WCA1), is part of the remaining Northern Everglades in the Palm Beach County. The refuge is located 7 miles West of the Boynton Beach City and it currently includes in its entirety 147,392 acres of the Northern everglades. Please refer to Appendix A. The refuge currently employs 20 permanent and 4 seasonal staff members who were maintained by a $1,520,700 payroll including operation needs for the year 2000. In addition to this, Congress authorized funds for miscellaneous projects and this amounted to $144,100. During my visit, I had the opportunity to meet with an on-duty biologist, Bill Thomas, who gladly informed me about the park's purpose and the activities done in the past and those foreseen for the future. As mentioned earlier, this park's main purpose is for preservation which is pointed out by the developing plan which addresses issues on exotic species, biological diversity, water quality and quantity, land use changes, habitat and wildlife protection, recreational opportunities and environmental education. This plan will illustrate the importance and needs that the park will attain and continue to accumulate as long as it is preserved. ...read more.

Middle

has naturalized but is expanding on its own in Florida plant communities Category 1: Invasive exotics that are altering native plant communities by displacing native species, changing community structures or ecological functions or hybridizing with natives Category 2: Invasive exotics that have increased in abundance or frequency but have not yet altered Florida plant communities to the extent shown by Category 1 species. Refer to Appendix B for a list of Exotic, Invasive Animal and Plant Species in the Refuge 4 Invasive exotic plants posing a serious threat to the Florida ecosystem and native species in the habitat are the Brazilian Pepper, Old World Climbing Fern, Australian Pine and Melaleuca. The biologist informed me that the Melaleuca posed the greatest threat because of its heavy infestation in the refuge's interior. Melaleuca (Melaleuca quinquenervia) is originally from Australia and was introduced in southern Florida as an ornamental plant in 1906. A surprising fact to note is that the Melaleuca is now merging towards extinction in Australia and the few remaining remnants do not grow at its optimum ability. Australian conservationists have not yet decided however if the Melaleuca plants will be taken back to Australia in an attempt to restore a once native beauty. It has been able to survive in Florida very well because of the similarity in the climate and conditions to Australia. It flourishes well in Florida's seasonal wet sites and standing water. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is very risky, as seeds released have to be destroyed and the soil has to be restored. Follow-ups are necessary to prevent reinvasion. 6 Fire, the physical control, is not a very good tool as the oils contained in the Melaleuca foliage allow the fire to burn uncontrollably and in addition to this problem, huge amounts of seeds are dispersed. Fires may control small seedlings but mature trees are quite fire enduring. Chemical control, that is, the use of herbicides is the main method of eradication. The trees are usually cut down and treated with a sufficient calculated amount of chemicals needed. The chemicals/herbicides used include Arsenal, Banvel 720, Garlon 3A, Rodeo, Spike (40P, 20P & 80W) and Velpar L. Each chemical has its own specifications for the age of tree to be treated, the amount and dilution, application and re-application methods and the effects on neighboring vegetation. Treatment is limited to 1/2 -1 acres per day, which is of relatively little significance in comparison to its spreading rate. It costs more than $200,000 annually and approximately only 6400 acres have been cleared thus far. Appendix C provides color illustration of the eradication process for Melaleuca. In the refuge's attempt to successfully control its exotic plant situation, continual funding is surely a necessity. The refuge is open to volunteers who would like to assist in the eradication program and we as Floridian residents should take the opportunity to preserve our natural habitats because surely the effects of these exotic species will reflect on the future and ourselves. ...read more.

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