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Everglades Restoration to Be Part of Invasive Species Discussions
By Alfredo Flores
August 17, 2004
Curbing the spread of invasive species into the United States is the main goal of an Agricultural Research Service workshop this week that focuses on protecting Florida's native habitat--especially the Everglades--from destructive insects, weeds and other invasive pests.
Controlling these invading species--those yet to arrive and those already entrenched here--is a big challenge. Scientists and land managers on local, state and federal levels are scrambling to develop means to detect, identify and eliminate exotic insects, weeds and diseases that are spread by global travel and trade.
This week's workshop at the ARS U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory in Fort Pierce, Fla., brings together university and government representatives involved in issues pertaining to both invasive species and the agro-ecosystems that provide their habitat. The meeting's goal is to develop and enhance partnerships that will not only help deal with exotic species invasions, but also address production and profitability problems affecting agricultural producers.
Organized by ARS and the University of Florida-Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), the workshop is part of an ARS-led research initiative to provide solutions to problems related to current and future efforts to restore south Florida's fragile ecosystem, particularly the Everglades National Park. That work fits into the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, which provides a framework and guide to restore, protect and preserve the water resources of central and southern Florida, including the Everglades.
Workshop participants include representatives of USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, the South Florida Water Management District, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Following an overview by ARS and IFAS officials on the collective work on biological control of invasive species, hydrology and water quality and improved crop and animal production systems, participants will discuss research needs and partnerships, with the goal of developing new cooperative agreements.
ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.