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Dispute Over Invasive Fern Threatens National Wildlife Refuge

South Florida Water Management District

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.  “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”, said Charles Lee of Audubon of Florida.

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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