Last Month's Newsletter



Family Fishing Day

Saturday, June 9, 7:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Get kids hooked on fishing! Families with children ages 12 and under are invited to learn about casting and fishing, knot-tying, fish identification, and fishing ethics and conservation. Meet at the C-6 Pavilion. Please call 561-735-6029 or email to reserve your spot today!

Sunset Everglades Tours

Tuesday, June 5, 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, June 19, 6:00 p.m.

Experience the unique sights and sounds of the Everglades at night! Meet at the Visitor Center for a guided twilight tour of the Refuge. Try to arrive a little before the tour starts as a courtesy to others. 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. Walk is approximately 1 mile.

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

Roving Wildlife Photographer

Fridays and Saturdays, 9:30 a.m.

Take a guided walking tour of some of our most beautiful spots in the Refuge. View and photograph wildlife in its natural settings with our volunteer roving photographer, Ira Rappaport. Ira will show you areas where some of the most recent sightings of wildlife have been reported and other locations that might make for great photo opportunities. Bring water, comfortable closed-toe shoes or sneakers, a hat to block the sun, sun screen lotion, binoculars, and your camera. The tour can be from 3-5 miles. Meet at the Visitor Center.

Roving Naturalist on Cypress Swamp Boardwalk

Tuesday, June 12 & 26, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 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 Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. except Friday, June 22
Every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. except Friday, June 8 & 22

Take an open-air Tram tour with our volunteer naturalist for a unique view into the wildlife, marshes and cypress swamps of the Refuge. 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. Meet at the Visitor Center front desk 15 minutes prior to the tour.

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

Guided Canoe Tours

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:

Moonlight Guided Canoe Tours

Saturday, May 26, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 30, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 28, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, August 25, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 22, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 20, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 24, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 22, 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

Audubon Society of the Everglades: Recent Surges in Wading Bird Nesting and Wildlife Effects in the STAs

Tuesday, June 5, 7:00 p.m.
Speaker: Dr. Mark Cook, Lead Scientist, Everglades Systems Assessment Section, South Florida Water Management District
Location: Main Branch of the Palm Beach County Library System, 3650 Summit Boulevard, West Palm Beach

All are invited to the monthly meeting of the Audubon Society of the Everglades to hear Dr. Mark Cook present "Guano, Bones, and Hurricanes: Recent Surges in Wading Bird Nesting and Wildlife Effects in the Stormwater Treatment Areas." Mark is the chief editor of the annual South Florida Wading Bird Report, on which he collaborates closely with other wading bird scientists in South Florida, including those from Audubon Florida. He has spent the past 14 years studying wading birds in South Florida. His research focus is wading birds, and how wetland processes such as water levels and nutrient run-off affect wading bird foraging and reproductive success. The goal for this research is to help restore and manage wading bird populations in the Everglades.

The meeting is free and open to the public. For more information visit or contact Gerry Felipe at 754-777-9660 or

Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group: The Smog Of the Sea

Saturday, June 30, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon
Location: Quaker Meetinghouse, 823 N. A St., Lake Worth

After years of hearing about ocean "garbage patches," the crew of the @5Gyres SEA (Sea Education Association) Change research expedition is stunned to learn that there is actually a "fog" of microplastics - trillions of barely visible shards - permeating the world's oceans. How do you stop a fog? With sparkling underwater cinematography, this 30-minute film makes an artful call to action against single-use plastic. Join the Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group's monthly meeting for a free screening of this film, followed by a discussion of ways to reduce the amount of waste we produce.

The meeting is free and open to the public. Learn more at and capture your commitment now at . In addition, you can take the pledge against single-use plastics at

2018 Photography Contest Awards

Thank you to all who entered our 2018 photography contest, to our distinguished judges from the Everglades Photographic Society, and especially to Cathy Patterson, Jay Paredes, Rick Schofield and the other volunteers whose hard work made this contest possible!

And the winners are:

Best in Show: Arthur Jacoby - Kung Foo Fighters - Limpkins
Manager's Choice: David Kendall - Raccoon Eating Cocoplums
Artistic: 1st - Evelyn Garcia - Where's That Bug? Vermilion Flycatcher; 2nd - Jeanne Lesperance - Purple Martin; 3rd - Evelyn Garcia - Exotic Lunch - Bobcat With Iguana; Honorable Mention: Jo Ann Ricchiuti - Silhouettes at Sunset, Jane Coelho - Tree Reflection, Steve Schwartz - Early Morning Wakeup - White Ibis Silhouettes in Cypress Tree
Avian: 1st - Ira Rappaport - Chuck Will's Widow; 2nd - Ruth Pannunzio - Pileated Woodpecker; 3rd - Ruth Pannunzio - Vermilion Flycatcher; Honorable Mention: Evelyn Garcia - Love Is In the Air - Red-shouldered Hawks, Frank Silverman - Purple Gallinule in Flight, Ira Rappaport - Great Horned Owl
Fauna: 1st - Jo Ann Ricchiuti - Are You Looking At Me? Bobcat; 2nd - Ruth Pannunzio - Two Deer; 3rd - Ruth Pannunzio - Bobcats; Honorable Mention: David Kendall - Baby Gator and Mom, Diane Munster - Peek-a-Boo Bobcat, Jeanne Lesperance - Landing Gear Down - Dragonfly
Flora: 1st - Jo Ann Ricchiuti - Elderberries; 2nd - Ira Rappaport - White Morning Glory with Dew; 3rd - Frank Silverman - Red - Virginia Creeper; Honorable Mention: Alan Fabricant - Lot's Happening - Duck Potato, Arthur Jacoby - Bright Water Lily, Harvey Mendelson - Reeds
Landscapes: 1st - Arthur Jacoby - Early Morning; 2nd - Jennifer Esten - Sunset Fly-In; 3rd - Grace Clarke - Reach for New Heights on the Sawgrass; Honorable Mention: Arthur Jacoby - Exploring Loxahatchee, Leslie Gelman - Beautiful Sunset, Leslie Gelman - Orange Sunset
Youth: 1st - Claire Mierau - Model Butterfly - Palamedes Swallowtail

The winning photographs are on display in the Visitor Center auditorium and available for sale. All of the photos can be viewed on our website at:

9th Annual Juried Art Contest - Loxahatchee Visions - Volunteers Needed!

Entries accepted: Sunday, October 28 - Saturday, November 3
Reception and Award Presentation: Sunday, November 11, 1:00 p.m.

The contest is open to all artists. Each artist may submit one or two works of art, inspired by "Loxahatchee Visions." Any media or mixed media may be used, with the exception of photography. (Save your photographs for next year's photo contest!) Each entry must be framed and ready for hanging. Wrapped canvas edges are fine. Size limit is 36" on each side, including frame.

Prizes will be awarded in 2 categories - Novice (to age 18) and Adult (age 18 and older).
First prize - $250; Second prize - $150; Third prize - $100.

The entry fee is $10 for Friends members, volunteers and Refuge staff, and $25 for non-members. The fee is waived for Novices. Bring your artwork along with the entry form and entry fee in an envelope labeled "Friends Art Contest" to the Visitor Center.

For the Contest Entry Form and the complete set of rules, go to:

Would you or someone you know would like to help organize this contest? Please contact us at!

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

Does Your Group Need a Speaker?

The Refuge is reaching out to our local community with an exciting opportunity. Several experienced Refuge volunteers have formed a Speakers Bureau to provide information and education about the Refuge to local residents. If your group is interested in hosting a speaking engagement, we would be happy to work with you. The presentation is approximately one hour in length and designed for a lay audience. You will learn fascinating facts about Everglades wildlife, plants, and habitats as well as the many recreational and educational opportunities that exist on the Refuge. Programs are free and can be arranged during the day, in the evening, or on weekends. For more information or to schedule a presentation, please call or email Sue Rowe, 207-440-0121, or Steve Henry, 561-735-6021,

Public Comment Invited

Comments accepted until Friday, August 3

Public comment is invited on recreational opportunities at the Refuge. As part of its recently signed License Agreement, the state of Florida asks the Refuge to evaluate 25 recreational enhancements for compatibility and possible implementation on the Refuge. As part of this process the Refuge is developing a detailed Visitor Services Plan. The plan will outline the goals, objectives, and strategies for implementing and managing existing and expanded wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities that are determined to be compatible with the purpose of the Refuge and the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Refuge is asking our partners and the general public to provide their suggestions for evaluation and inclusion in the plan. The plan will outline a range of management alternatives based on the public input received.

Comments can be mailed to A.R.M. Loxahatchee VSP, P.O. Box 924, Freeport, FL 32439, or sent by e-mail to

For more information, go to:

The proposed recreational enhancements are contained in Appendix C of the new License Agreement:

Refuge In the News

The possibility of adding new recreational opportunities (see above - Public Comment Invited) brought lots of publicity to the Refuge last month. Refuge manager Rolf Olson, volunteer Bradley Rosendorf and Sierra Club friend and advocate Drew Martin were interviewed by WPTV Channel 5:

It made the front page of the Sun-Sentinel:

...and Frank Cerabino's column in the Palm Beach Post:

Migratory Bird Treaty Act Under Threat

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was passed by Congress in 1918 in response to the extinction or near-extinction of a number of bird species, many of which were hunted either for sport or for their feathers. The protection the Act affords migratory birds is credited with saving the lives of millions of birds and with saving the Snowy Egret, the Sandhill Crane, the Trumpeter Swan and the Bald Eagle from extinction.

That law is now under threat by members of Congress and the administration who want to weaken it. Legislation in Congress (HR 4239), and a new interpretation of the law by the administration, would end the ability to hold industries accountable for bird deaths. These proposals would prevent enforcement of "incidental" bird deaths, removing incentives for companies to adopt practices that protect birds from threats such as oil waste pits, and eliminating penalties for companies that kill substantial numbers of birds, including from large oil spills. Under these new proposed rules, BP would never have been liable for killing almost a million birds during the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Audubon urges you to contact your members of Congress to oppose any changes that would weaken the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. You can contact them using Audubon's action page:

Or you can contact them directly:
To contact your Representative, go to, type your zip code at the top of the screen and click "LOOK UP", then click on your Representative's name;
To contact your Senators go to, select your state under "Find Your Senators" at the top of the screen, then click on your Senator's name.

Land and Water Conservation Fund Expires September 30

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is the nation's most important conservation and recreation program. Congress created the LWCF a half-century ago to guarantee our country's natural, historical and outdoor recreation heritage. It reinvests offshore energy revenue into conservation; it has saved places in nearly every state and every county in the U.S. It expires September 30, 2018. Please contact your Congressional representatives and urge them to reauthorize this fund!

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

Combat Sea Level Rise, Restore the Everglades

Several days a week you may have noticed our local newspapers running editorials on the multiple threats we are facing from rising sea levels. "The Invading Sea" is a collaboration of four South Florida media organizations - the Miami Herald, the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Palm Beach Post and WLRN Public Media - in response to our elected officials in Tallahassee and Washington who remain remarkably unconcerned about the effects we are already seeing in our neighborhoods.

One of the most recent editorials makes the case that Everglades restoration must be our biggest priority, or we will run out of fresh water even before our homes all go underwater. As the seas rise and the pressure of the salt water increases, our entire source of fresh water is increasingly at risk. It's not the pressure of the water pushing down that we worry about. Our biggest fear is the pressure of the seawater pushing UP, through the porous ground beneath us and into the Biscayne Aquifer and into the Everglades. The Biscayne Aquifer provides about 90 percent of South Florida's drinking water. As we continue to pump water from the aquifer, that decreases the pressure of the fresh water pushing down. And we have drained about two-thirds of the Everglades, the other part of the fresh water pushing down against the rising seas and also refreshing the aquifer.

Lake O Levels Rising, Aquatic Life Dying, Flood Control Funds Lacking

In Palm Beach County, May rainfall measured between an average of 14.3 and 15.3 inches, or 350 to 400 percent of normal, thanks to Alberto. Lake Okeechobee is over 14 feet, approaching the level it was two years ago when discharges to the east of the lake contributed to the toxic algae blooms on the St. Lucie River. Small discharges to the west of the lake into the Caloosahatchee River have been ongoing since last fall. Discharges to the east are likely if lake levels continue to rise.

High lake levels reduce the amount of light reaching submerged vegetation, such as eel grass. As the submerged vegetation dies back, it no longer buffers the inner marsh from polluted water from the middle of the lake. Once that nutrient-laden water reaches the interior of the marshes, thickets of cattails overrun the remaining plants and don't support the same variety of life that other vegetation did. Higher water also disperses fish, making it more difficult for wading birds to find food.

Just three years ago, the lake was as healthy as it had been since the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005. Regrowth of submerged vegetation was creating a domino effect that led to a robust ecosystem resurrection - plants clean the water and provide a place for bugs to live, which are then eaten by the fish, which are food for bigger fish and birds. But at the end of 2015 and early 2016, an El Nino climate pattern turned Florida's dry season into months of rain, and the lake swelled to over 16 feet. A months-long drought during the dry season of 2017 allowed the vegetation to wage a temporary comeback, but all that progress was wiped out by last year's Hurricane Irma.

Meanwhile, the budget for repairing the South Florida Water Management District's aging flood control structures is short tens of millions of dollars each year, potentially putting homes at risk during extreme rainfall, according to an inspector general's report. The report's findings were to be presented during a recent meeting of the Water Resources Analysis Coalition at the request of the coalition's chairman, Jim Moran. Against his wishes the item was pulled from the agenda, prompting his resignation as chairman.

The District has been in cost-cutting mode since Governor Rick Scott took office in 2011. The sharp cuts resulted in layoffs and, in 2015, the ousting of the District's executive director over his recommendation for a slight property tax increase. That tax increase was "desperately needed," according to Moran, speaking at the April meeting of the District's governing board. "They are just putting Band Aids on a 70-year-old system that needs a lot of money to be maintained," he said following the meeting. "When things hit the fan, and one of these structures fails, we are going to have flooding, people will be trapped. It's putting people's lives and property in danger."

Reservoir South of Lake Okeechobee Gains U.S. House Committee Approval

A plan for the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir that is intended to reduce Lake Okeechobee discharges was submitted by the South Florida Water Management District to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in late March. The Corps has to approve the plan before the federal government can pay half the cost of the estimated $1.4 billion project. Discharges from the lake are blamed for massive toxic algae blooms in the St. Lucie River during the summer months of 2016.

The Water Resources and Development Act as approved by the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last month contains a "placeholder" for the reservoir. The placeholder language will be replaced by full authorization of the reservoir once the Corps gives a favorable review of the project. The bill approved by the committee includes other provisions inserted by U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, including one that would direct the Corps to update the process used to decide when to discharge Lake Okeechobee water to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers based on improvements to the dike surrounding the lake scheduled to be finished in 2022.

The District claims the project's 10,100-acre reservoir and 6,500-acre man-made marsh will be able to reduce discharges to both rivers by 63 percent and send about 120.6 billion gallons of clean water south to the Everglades each year.

Track the progress of this and other projects with the South Florida Water Management District's new interactive map:

Plan Revived to Build 3,900 Homes in Western Palm Beach County

GL Homes has revived its plan to build 3,900 homes west of the Acreage at Indian Trails Grove. That plan had been put on hold while GL Homes sought to trade those development rights for rights to build more homes in Palm Beach County's Agricultural Reserve, a 22,000-acre farming and conservation area just east of the Refuge.

One Thousand Pythons Caught, 100,000 To Go

Last month marked a milestone as the 1,000th python was caught in the Everglades as part of the python elimination program started by the South Florida Water Management District 15 months ago. That's 1,000 down, approximately 100,000 to go, based on some probably conservative estimates. Native wildlife has all but disappeared from the southern Everglades as the invasive Burmese python, with no native predators, has taken over. "If you go to the Everglades now, you'll be hard-pressed to find a single squirrel, raccoon, opossum," said Mike Kirkland, who oversees the python program. "Now they're targeting our wading birds." Also gone are rabbits, otters and deer. Pythons have also been famously known to attack and kill large alligators.

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Like Us on Facebook!

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Please spread the word and ask the folks you know to "Like" us!

Join the Friends!

If you're not already a Friends member, why not join now? Your support helps fund Refuge programs and special projects, and helps make our annual Everglades Day possible. Dues are only $25 per person or $40 for a family membership. All members receive our biannual newsletter Gator Tales and a 10% discount in our gift shop. You can sign up online at:

Help Us Grow!

Tell your friends about this hidden treasure! How many of them know we have a piece of the Everglades right here in Palm Beach County? Bring them out, and encourage them to join the Friends. Better yet, give them a gift membership!


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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, 1982-2018



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