Friday, March 11, 2011

Treasure Coast partnership recognized for actions to protect coastal environment

STUART — U.S. Department of Interior Deputy Assistant Secretary Eileen Sobeck was in Martin County on Friday to present the Treasure Coast Invasive Species Management Area partnership with the 2010 Coastal America Partnership Award.
The environmental award, the highest given by the administration, is for outstanding actions to restore and protect the coastal environment in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties.
The ceremony, attended by approximately 70 members and guests of local parks and environmental agencies, was held at St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park.
The Treasure Coast partnership, established in 2007, is basically a group of "land managers working together," said Mike Renda of the Nature Conservancy. "This award is the result of multiple levels of federal, state local and nonprofit agencies working to get funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service."
In 2008, the federal service's Coastal Program funded a multiyear program, currently totaling $134,000, to target the removal of Scaevola taccada, or beach naupaka, as well as other invasive exotics in beach dune systems.
The Treasure Coast group has a mission statement to reduce and control invasive species, reduce new invasive species, build new relationships, spread information and perform applied research.
"The key is on-ground early detection and rapid response," Sobeck said. "This award recognizes people at the appropriate juncture, and embodies the principles that we at the federal government wish to show."
Virginia Tippie, director of Coastal America, said, "The efforts here are a striking example of environmental success and a model for others around the country to emulate."
Added Renda, "It's important to celebrate our success. We don't often do it. This lets everybody know it's hard to do, and it's a worthy effort."
Michael Yustin, Martin County Engineering Department environmental lands coordinator, was grateful for being part of the award.
"We hope this can be a mechanism to educate the public about the need to get rid of invasive plants," he said. "We're not going to be able to restore Florida without private landowners input and help."
The member organizations being recognized with plaques included representatives from the Nature Conservancy, Martin County, Florida Park Service, Department of Environmental Protection, St. Lucie County, University of Florida/IFAS, Treasure Coast Resource Conservation and Development Council, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
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