The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 4, 2001

Remarks to the Pool by Larry Belli, Deputy Superintendent of Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park, Florida

     MR. BELLI:  -- in 1975 it became part of the park and at that time we tried, we found after the farming stopped that the vegetation came back into an exotic plant called Brazilian Pepper.  And the plant is very dense, it's a thick shrub.  Nothing really grows in there, below it, and it's not a very good habitat for wildlife.

     Over the years, the park has tried to cut it and to burn it, and it always had kept coming back.  About 12 years ago, we started with a method where we actually bladed out, or cut out, all the Brazilian Pepper and then took out all the top soil.  And the soil is not there naturally, it's there because the area was rock plowed for farming.  In other words, they went in, into the natural limestone that was the base here and actually ground it up to make soil.

     But we've taken that out and you'll see a big mound over here where we have been piling it up.  We need to do about 6,000 acres.  We do about 250 acres a year and we have done about 1,000 acres total, so far.  This is a state/county/federal project, it's paid for by mitigation funds, by developers in Miami-Dade County, with a little bit of state funds added and the National Park Service does the work.

     Q    Do you know how big this plot of land is?

     MR. BELLI:  I couldn't tell you, exactly, out here.  I know the total area that we've done, all the kind of white area is about 250 acres.  It's around this building.

     Q    How long will it take?

     MR. BELLI:  It will come back in a couple of years, and we find that in the areas that had it, it's a very high diversity of wild life that have come back into the area.

     Q    I thought the Florida panther was one that --

     MR. BELLI:  Florida panther, deer, many different species.

     Q    Thank you, sir.


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