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Deadly fungus spreads in Everglades, killing trees

Published: Friday, July 25 2014 7:54 a.m. MDT

Updated: Friday, July 25 2014 7:54 a.m. MDT

In this June 25, 2014 photo, dead trees are seen in a tree island in the Florida Everglades near Miami. A fungus that follows an invasive beetle from Asia is killing trees across the Everglades, and there’s no way to stop the blight from spreading. Since first detected west of Miami 2011, laurel wilt has killed swamp bay trees scattered across 330,000 acres of the Everglades, a roughly 2 million-acre system of state and federal lands.

J Pat Carter, Associated Press

MIAMI — A fungus carried by an invasive beetle from Asia is killing trees across the Everglades, and experts haven't found a way to stop the blight from spreading.

Since first detected west of Miami in 2011, laurel wilt has killed swamp bay trees scattered across 330,000 acres of the Everglades, a roughly 2 million-acre system of state and federal lands.

The damage may be leaving Florida's fragile wetlands open to even more of an incursion from exotic plants that threaten to choke the unique Everglades and undermine billions of dollars' worth of restoration projects.

A congressionally mandated report last month found that despite the disturbances they cause, invasive species haven't been factored into Everglades restoration planning. Experts say there's little funding or manpower available to fight back against exotic plants.

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