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STATEMENT: Audubon Celebrates Agreement to Save ARM Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

New lease agreement breathes renewed life into decades-old partnership after strong support by Audubon members

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sean Cooley, Communications Manager, (850) 999-1030,  
Twitter: @AudubonFL

MIAMI (March 8, 2018) - Today South Florida Water Management District Executive Director Ernie Marks announced the District recently signed a new lease agreement on the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, allowing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to continue managing this resource for wildlife.
“Today’s announcement marks a new chapter in the life of the ARM Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge,” said Celeste De Palma, director of Everglades policy for Audubon Florida. “This signals a renewed readiness to work in partnership to attack the real threat to the Refuge: invasive species. This Refuge is a national treasure for both birds and people. Dozens of rare species depend on this sanctuary that is home to one of the largest remaining intact tracts of America’s Everglades,” she adds before enthusiastically concluding. “The long-standing partnership between the Water Management District and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is safe, and so is one of the nation’s most beloved and important National Wildlife Refuges!”
The Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge spans more than 140,000 acres of critical habitat, attracting more than 300,000 visitors per year and representing a major economic, environmental and social center in South Florida. In August 2016, the South Florida Water Management District sent a notice of default on their lease to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, citing failure to achieve control of two invasive exotic species in the Refuge and jeopardizing the 60-year partnership between the State of Florida and the federal government. Audubon Florida was part of a coalition of more than 15 national, state, and local organizations working together to protect the ARM Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. Collectively these groups mobilized more than 67,000 passionate advocates who reached out to Governor Scott urging him to keep the refuge open and urge the agencies to work together to combat invasive exotic species menacing the Refuge. In November of last year, the District agreed to enter into a new lease agreement with the Service. Audubon celebrates today’s announcement of the official signing of that agreement, which was signed by Acting Regional Director for U.S. Fish & Wildlife (SE Region) Mike Oetker and SFWMD Executive Director Ernie Marks on March 6, 2018.

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