Last Month's Newsletter


SCHEDULED PROGRAMS        April 2017

Loxahatchee Battlefield Preservationist Guy Bachmann on the Seminole Wars

Thursday, April 13, 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Are you interested in learning about the cultural and historical significance of areas near the Refuge and Palm Beach County in the Seminole Wars of the 1800s? Guy Bachmann of the Loxahatchee Battlefield Preservationists will be hosting an informative lecture and displaying artifacts of these wars at the Refuge on the Cypress Swamp Boardwalk Pavilion located directly behind the Visitor Center. Don't miss out on this unique opportunity to learn about the rich history of South Florida!

Twilight Everglades Tour

Tuesday, April 11, 7:00 p.m. - Full Moon
Tuesday, April 25, 7:00 p.m. - New Moon

Meet at the Visitor Center for a guided twilight tour of the Everglades. Wear long-sleeved shirt, long pants, good walking shoes with closed toes and heels, and bring a jacket, water, a good flashlight and bug spray. You might also like to bring a hat. Must be 18 years or older because it is still alligator mating season!

RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. Call the Visitor Center at 561-734-8303.

Early Morning Bird Walks on the Marsh Trail

Every Wednesday, 7:30 - 10:30 a.m.

Join our volunteer naturalist for an early morning bird walk on the Marsh Trail. Meet in the Marsh Trail parking lot.

Guided Bird, Butterfly and Wildflower Walk

Every Friday, 8:00 - 10:00 a.m.

Join our volunteer naturalist for an early morning nature walk and see how many birds and other critters you can spot. Learn about our migratory and year-round residents of the Refuge and their habitat. Your guide will discuss the marsh ecology, answer your questions and identify the birds, butterflies, plants, reptiles and anything else you might find along the way. Meet in the Marsh Trail parking lot.

Roving Naturalist on Cypress Swamp Boardwalk

Tuesday, April 11 & 25, 1:00 - 3:30 p.m.

A volunteer naturalist will be strolling around the Cypress Swamp Boardwalk, answering questions and discussing flora and fauna of the swamp.

Tram Tours of the Marsh

Every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
Tuesday, April 11 & 25, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.
Tuesday, April 18 & 25, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.

Take a Tram tour of the marsh with our volunteer naturalist, who will take you from the Visitor Center to the boat ramp to the LILA impoundments, then back through the C10 impoundment and the Marsh Trail, across to the Arthur R. Marshall kiosk and back to the Visitor Center. Your guide will talk about the Refuge, its birds and other wildlife, the ongoing research in the mini-Everglades impoundments of LILA, and answer all your questions in the comfort of your shaded electric tram.

RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. Call the Visitor Center at 561-734-8303.

Guided Canoe Trips

Every Saturday, 9:00 - 11:15 a.m.

Meet at the Lee Road Boat Ramp to enjoy a beautiful canoe tour through a portion of the Refuge interior. You may rent a canoe for $35 from Loxahatchee Canoeing or bring your own. (One canoe seats 2 to 3 people.)

RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. Call the Visitor Center at 561-734-8303.

Enjoy this 3-minute video made on the canoe trail:

Full Moon Guided Canoe Trips

Saturday, April 8, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 6, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Friday, June 9, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Meet at the Lee Road Boat Ramp to enjoy a guided moonlight canoe tour through a portion of the Refuge interior. Wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants and bring a flashlight and bug spray.

Canoe rental from Loxahatchee Canoeing is $35; you may not bring your own. (One canoe seats 2 to 3 people.)


*** Programs subject to change, for more information on any of the activities and programs, please call the Visitor Center at (561) 734-8303.

Events are listed on the Friends website at

34th Annual Photography Contest Reception and Award Presentation

Sunday, April 30, 1:00 p.m.

View all of the fabulous entries in our 2017 photo contest, enjoy wine and cheese, and meet and mingle with the photographers on Sunday, April 30 in the Visitor Center theater.

Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group: Groundswell Rising

Saturday, April 15, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon (meeting begins at 10:30 a.m. following 10:00 a.m. breakfast)
Location: Refuge Visitor Center theater, with light breakfast served on the pavilion behind the Visitor Center

The monthly meeting of the Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group will feature the acclaimed fracking documentary "Groundswell Rising" (1 hour, 20 minutes) free of charge, followed by a short discussion after the film. In the film, "Groundswell Rising, Protecting Our Children's Air and Water" (2014), we meet parents, scientists, artists, teachers, clergy, community organizers and business leaders who are convinced that this form of gas extraction is a serious health and environmental risk and who are standing up to one of the world's most powerful industries. Their resistance is part of a growing movement towards dealing with the climate crises and making the transition to sustainable energy.

The meeting is free and open to the public. Entrance to the Refuge is also free to all meeting attendees.

Lee Road Cleanup - Volunteers Needed!

Saturday, April 22, 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.

Come out and help the Friends pick up litter from the entrance road to the Refuge. The Friends have officially adopted Lee Road from U.S. 441 west to the Refuge gate under the Palm Beach County Adopt-a-Road Litter Control program. Please wear closed-toed shoes, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen and bug spray. Meet at the Visitor Center to get your safety vest, plastic gloves and instructions. Water and light snacks provided. Students can receive Community Service hours. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old or accompanied by a parent or guardian. For more information contact Cathy Patterson at 561-301-5056 or

Nature Store Volunteers Needed!

The Friends are looking for volunteers to work in the Friends nature store in the Visitor Center - please contact Cathy Patterson at

Thank You to Our Award-Winning Volunteers!

Our volunteer appreciation luncheon was held on March 15 in recognition of the many volunteers who make public enjoyment of our Refuge possible. Congratulations to Barry Willette, named Volunteer of the Year by Refuge staff for the many tasks he has taken on since he started volunteering at the Visitor Center information desk last June. Barry now takes visitors out on walking tours, he leads the new moon night walk on the marsh every month and soon plans to start leading the full moon walks as well. He also works in the fee booth and recently he has been helping collect the fees from the entranceways at Lox Road and 20-Mile Bend.

And congratulations to a special Friend of the Refuge, Cathy Patterson, our Nature Store volunteer coordinator, the organizer of the Cookbook committee that recently produced our new Friends cookbook and the coordinator for the Friends annual photo contest. Cathy assists with school groups that come out to learn about the Refuge and the Everglades, conducts tram tours, greets visitors at the Visitor Center reception desk, pulls weeds in the Butterfly Garden and whatever else she finds needs to be done. Thank you to Cathy and Barry and all our volunteers, without whom the Refuge would not be able to offer the visitor services we all enjoy today.

Audubon Society of the Everglades: Photography Club Annual Show

Tuesday, May 2, 7:00 p.m.
Location: Pine Jog Environmental Education Center, 6301 W. Summit Blvd, West Palm Beach, Rooms 101 and 102

At the monthly meeting of the Audubon Society of the Everglades, members of the new ASE Photography Club will share and discuss their nature images, many of which have won awards in various categories this season. Dr. Peter J. Lekos, Photography Club President, and Scott Zucker, Club Treasurer, co-founded the Photography Club this past year to provide ASE members the opportunity to become better photographers, meet other people who share their passion, and support ASE's efforts to protect birds and wildlife habitats through conservation and education. Dr. Lekos has achieved international recognition through the Photographic Society of America, where he ranked #3 in North America and #12 in the world. He is also an accomplished judge of prestigious international photography competitions.

The meeting is free and open to the public. Light refreshments at 6:30 p.m. For more information visit or contact Paton White at 561-818-7574 or

Podcast: Refuge Management on Invasive Exotic Plants on the Refuge

Last month Refuge Manager Rolf Olson, Acting Operations Manager of the National Wildlife Refuge Association Mark Musaus and Friends President Elinor Williams were invited to join a podcast sponsored by Rob Muir of the Ocean River Institute to discuss the problems that invasive exotic plants pose to the Refuge. Mark was also able to share his unique perspective as the former Refuge Manager who was in charge when the Refuge's current 50-year lease agreement was negotiated with the South Florida Water Management District, when treatment of invasives was included as one of 13 performance measurements in the agreement.

Congress Introduces Bills to Protect Natural Resources from Invasive Species

Four Western state Senators have introduced the Federal Land Invasive Species Control, Prevention, and Management Act, S.509, that would direct the Secretary of the Interior to protect natural resources from invasive species. A companion bill, H.R. 1330, has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The tree islands of our Refuge are being devastated by Old World climbing fern, also known as lygodium, which due to a lack of funding is spreading faster than efforts to contain it. It's not clear that the bills would provide the needed funding, but just raising the profile of the seriousness of this issue across our public lands is a start.

Please contact your Congressional representatives to call their attention to these newly introduced bills and urge them to sign on as co-sponsors. The more our decision-makers understand the threat that invasives like lygodium pose to our native plants and wildlife, the more reason to hope they will understand the need for funding.

To contact your Representative, go to, type your zip code at the top of the screen and click "Go", then click on your Representative's name;
To contact your Senators go to, select your state and click "Go" next to the "Find Your Senators" box at the top of the screen.

Tell Congress Not to Slash Refuge System Funding!

The National Wildlife Refuge Association urges all of us who care about our National Wildlife Refuges to ask your Congressional representatives not to slash funding for the National Wildlife Refuge System. President Trump's proposed FY '18 budget calls for a 12% cut, or $1.5 billion, to the Department of the Interior. If this cut were evenly applied to all Interior programs, it would slash $58 million from the National Wildlife Refuge System's already meager budget of $481.4 million, which funds the management of more than 850 million acres across 566 National Wildlife Refuges in every state in the Union.

The Refuge System's budget is already down 20% from FY10 levels, and if Congress were to pass the proposed budget into law, Refuges would close, access for hunters, fishers, and birders would be lost, and volunteer programs would be terminated, while wildlife management efforts like habitat restoration and invasive species removal would proceed only at the bare minimum.

To contact your U.S. Senators and Representative, you can go to NWRA's action page:

Congress Overturns Protections for Predators on Alaskan National Wildlife Refuges

On March 21, the Senate followed the House in voting to use the Congressional Review Act to permanently void the Alaska National Wildlife Rule, which had prohibited aggressive predator control like killing mother bears and cubs in their dens on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has an obligation to the American people and to the people of Alaska to manage National Wildlife Refuges for all wildlife and to promote biological diversity. The Service is therefore obligated to fight the state of Alaska's efforts to artificially inflate game species populations at the expense of predator species, but instead of being able to point to a rule for all Refuges in Alaska, they will now have to proceed on a case-by-case basis.

Tracking Florida's Legislative Session

Florida's legislative session began on March 7, with a number of bills affecting Florida's lands and waters under consideration. For those of you interested in tracking some of these bills and letting your legislators know what you think about them, 1000 Friends of Florida is providing legislative updates through their website:

Florida Conservation Voters is holding weekly calls on Fridays at 1pm from now through May 5 for a concise review of current environmental legislation. They invite you to join the call at
Optional dial in number: 850-972-9727 (no PIN needed)

1000 Friends of Florida was particularly concerned about Senate Bill 996, which would have stymied public participation in government by forcing Floridians who unsuccessfully challenged development decisions to pay the attorney fees of real estate developers up to $50,000, even for cases settled under mutually agreed upon terms. The Senate Judiciary Committee temporarily postponed Senate Bill 996 last week, after its companion bill in the House, House Bill 997, had suffered the same fate in its first committee stop the week before. Based on comments from the bill's author, 1000 Friends of Florida believe the bill to be dead for the 2017 Session.

In other good news, Senate Bill 442, comprehensive legislation to ban "fracking" in the state of Florida unanimously passed its first Senate committee stop.

Florida Legislature Proposes Deep Cuts in Environmental Spending

In its 2017-2018 budget recommendations, the Florida House proposed a 25% reduction in the Department of Environmental Protection budget and completely defunded the state's major land protection programs Florida Forever and Rural and Family Lands Protection Program. The Florida Senate recommended only $10 million for Florida Forever and no funding for Rural and Family Lands. On a more positive note, the Senate's budget proposal seeks to fund $111 million in salaries and expenses from General Revenue instead of the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, the fund set up by voters through Amendment 1 in 2014. It was intended to be used for conservation through land acquisition, but last year the legislature chose to use that money for funding state agency salaries and expenses. This would free up those dollars for land conservation.

However, as 1000 Friends of Florida points out in this op-ed, there is still concern that legislation if passed in its current form would divert Amendment 1 dollars away from its intended use of protecting conservation lands through programs like Florida Forever and toward water infrastructure projects that should, and historically have, been paid for through other means.

Contact your legislators to restore full funding for Florida Forever! You can find your State Representative and State Senator at

Or you can contact them using Audubon Florida's Action page:

Water Resources Bill in Florida Legislature Gains Support, Stirs Controversy

Senate Bill 10 and its companion House Bill 761 would authorize water storage in the Everglades Agricultural Area as part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan to reduce damaging Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, while providing more upstream freshwater for the Southern Everglades and Florida Bay. The bills provide a solution to the algae blooms and seagrass die-offs in coastal waters and will help restore the parched marshes to bring back wildlife in the Everglades. Unfortunately, recent amendments to the bill divert billions of dollars set aside by Amendment 1 for protecting conservation lands through Florida Forever and redirect these funds toward water infrastructure projects that should be paid for through other means, causing some environmental groups to withdraw support from the bill in its current form.

And Glades area residents oppose the bill out of fear that removing land from agriculture for a reservoir will take jobs away from their already poverty-stricken communities. More has been written on these bills in the press than any others in recent memory. Here are just some of the stories that have made the news:

And here are some of the opinion pieces that have been written in support of the bills, from editorial boards, chambers of commerce and noted environmentalist Nathaniel Reed, among others:

Need for water storage reservoir outweighs criticism...
Glades' worries deserve answers but shouldn't kill reservoir...
Buying land south of lake important for Fort Myers Beach...
Martin Health System supports 'Buy the Land' bill...
South reservoir essential to Florida Bay's health and the Keys economy...
Help the Everglades, help the economy...
Infrastructure, cash key for 'Glades restoration and national park...
US Sugar, Water District were once on same side of reservoir issue...
Nathaniel Reed: There is nothing complicated about the need to invest in the so-called Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir. One need only understand that water flows downhill...

Audubon Florida has an Action Page set up for you to tell your State Senator and Representative to support the proposed reservoir:

Miccosukee Tribe Disputes State's Claim to Have "Nearly" Cleaned the Everglades

The Miccosukee Tribe disputes the State of Florida's claim that the Everglades have nearly been cleaned of phosphorus pollution. Last month, when the South Florida Water Management District sent an email to the Department of Justice asking to end the consent decree that for the last quarter century put it under court oversight and set a standard of no more than 10 parts per billion of phosphorus pollution for water entering the Everglades, the tribe was caught off guard. The tribe's own water quality monitoring shows many locations where the standard is violated, in some areas by a factor of 10 times as much. The tribe, whose lands are at the crossroads of Everglades restoration with sugar and sod farms to the north, urban sprawl to the east and west and Everglades National Park to the south, has formal legal standing to step in if they see the state violating the consent decree, which they have in fact done numerous times over the years.

Concerns Rise as Lake Levels Drop Due to Drier Than Usual Dry Season

This year's unusually dry March weather has dropped Lake Okeechobee's water level below the minimum range targeted to back up South Florida's drinking water supply. Draining the lake during the rainy season to protect the lake's aging dike leaves little leeway for error in predicting South Florida's water needs during the dry season. That lake draining also wastes water that could be cleaned and used to replenish the Everglades. And getting more water to the Everglades would allow more water to seep into underground supplies that South Florida communities tap for drinking water.

Annual South Florida Wading Bird Report Shows Steep Nesting Decline in the Everglades

The annual South Florida Wading Bird Report showed that 2016 had the lowest wading bird nesting count since 2008. The report, compiled by the South Florida Water Management District and including a section written by Audubon scientists, also noted that there has not been a strong wading bird nesting season in the Everglades in more than a decade.

Audubon strongly recommends speeding up the current Everglades restoration schedule to bring back if only partially the freshwater that once flowed from Lake Okeechobee across marshes to Florida Bay, in order to help stem the decline of key indicator species such as the Roseate Spoonbill and avoid hitting an irreversible tipping point. For more on the Wading Bird Report, read Audubon'per s fact sheet...

...and these articles in the Miami Herald:

Osprey Video

Watch an osprey catch a mighty big fish and a lot of small ones in this 3-minute video:!/#.WOKYWWe1v4Z

Invasive Exotic Fish Spreading in the Everglades

Invasive exotic fish, such as the orange-striped Mayan cichlids, spotted tilapia and ruby-colored African jewelfish, originally dumped by pet owners or escaped from fish farms, are now infesting the remote sloughs and canals that crisscross the Everglades. They gobble up food, tolerate more extreme conditions, and reproduce at a faster and younger rate than native freshwater fish. Some even hunt in packs, devouring the small crayfish that form the base of the local food chain.

Hunters Enlisted to Combat Invasive Burmese Pythons

The South Florida Water Management District began a two-month experiment on March 25, a $175,000 pilot project that they hope will make a dent in the Burmese python population in the Everglades. The Burmese python is the Asian snake that has spread across the marshes and is now considered the region's top predator. Twenty-five hunters will be paid $8.10 an hour plus $50 for every four-foot snake bagged, plus $25 for each additional foot of snake.

Panther Kittens Found North of Caloosahatchee River

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported last month that it had captured images on camera of a nursing mother panther and at least two kittens north of the Caloosahatchee River. The river had long been considered the northern boundary for the Florida panther, with the exception of a few males seeking to expand their territory. Until last fall no female panther had been known to cross this boundary.

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Help Us Grow!

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Elinor Williams
Friends of Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

"There are no other Everglades in the world." ~Marjory Stoneman Douglas
Celebrate with us, The Friends of Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, 1982-2017



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