Last Month's Newsletter


Visitor Center Closed Thanksgiving Day, November 28

The Visitor Center will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, but the grounds will remain open.

Holiday Special - Brick Pavers Now Two for the Price of One!

Have you considered engraving a brick for our paved path at the entrance to the Cypress Swamp? It's a thoughtful way to commemorate a loved one or yourself, for that matter, and help the Refuge at the same time. From now through the end of December, $100 buys two for the price of one! Up to 3 lines, 18 characters per line. Installed within 30 days of order. For an additional $25 you'll also receive a matching 4" x 4" tile, suitable for display in your home or office. Stop by the Visitor Center or go online at

SCHEDULED PROGRAMS        November 2019

Everglades Tram Tours

Every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. except November 17 & 28
Every Sunday, Wednesday & Saturday, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. except November 17

Grab your camera and binoculars and enjoy the Refuge on an approximately 1.5 to 2-hour tram tour. The open-air tram provides 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.

Photography Tours

Photography Walking Tours - Sunday, November 3 & 17, 7:00 a.m.
Photography Tram Tours - Sunday, November 10 & 24

Explore, learn, enjoy, and record the natural resources and biological treasures of the Refuge with award-winning photographers Dr. Peter Lekos and Lora Lekos on an early morning photography tour. Reservations are required because space is limited to give personal attention to each photographer. Meet at the Marsh Trail parking lot near the gazebo.

Early Morning Bird Walks

Every Wednesday, 7:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Join our volunteer naturalist from Audubon Everglades for an early morning bird walk on the Marsh Trail. Bring binoculars and wear closed-toed/closed heel shoes. These walks are open to birders of all ages and abilities. Meet in the Marsh Trail parking lot. Please arrive 5 - 10 minutes before the walk starts to meet your guide.

Check out recent sightings from eBird Trail Tracker:
... and view our Bird Checklist:

Roving Wildlife Photographer

Every Saturday, 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, binoculars, and your camera. The tour can be from 3-5 miles. Meet at the Visitor Center.

Roving Naturalist

Tuesday, November 12, 12:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

A volunteer naturalist will be strolling around the Visitor Center, Cypress Swamp Boardwalk and Marsh Trail, answering questions and discussing the plants and wildlife of the swamp. Meet at the Visitor Center.

Guided Canoe Tours

Saturday, November 9 & 23, 8:00 a.m.

Meet at the Lee Road Boat Ramp to enjoy a beautiful canoe tour guided by a volunteer naturalist through a portion of the Refuge interior. Explore the northernmost end of the Everglades on this approximately 1.5 to 2-hour tour. You may rent a canoe or kayak 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, November 9, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 14, 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

Loxahatchee Visions - 10th Annual Juried Art Contest Reception and Awards Presentation

Sunday, November 10, 1:00 p.m.

Join the Friends and distinguished judge Isidro Pentzke for our Loxahatchee Visions awards presentation on Sunday, November 10, in the Visitor Center theater. Afterwards, enjoy refreshments, meet and mingle with the artists and admire all of the outstanding artwork.

The entries will be on display in the Visitor Center theater and available for purchase until mid-January. A portion of the proceeds (25%) will be donated to the Friends.

Fee-Free Day - Veterans Day, November 11

The Department of Interior is waiving admission fees at all National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges and other federal fee areas on Monday, November 11, in recognition of Veterans Day.

Friends Annual Luncheon with Arts, Crafts & Plant Sale

Saturday, December 7, 11:00 a.m.
Location: Ellie's 50's Diner, 2410 N. Federal Hwy, Delray Beach
    (park & enter at the back of the building)
Guest speaker: Eliot Kleinberg, Historian, Author and Columnist for the Palm Beach Post

All are invited to join the Friends for our annual luncheon at Ellie's 50's Diner - a great, fun place for our flock to gather for a socializing meet and greet with cash bar and sumptuous buffet, including carving stations. Our speaker Eliot Kleinberg, historian, author of ten books, including the "Weird Florida" series, and Palm Beach Post writer, is sure to be informative and entertaining. There'll be free swag and great bargains in the sale of local artisan craft work, art, photography, and plants throughout. There'll also be an exciting raffle going on, with lots of donated items and gift certificates from Hands Art & Office Supply, Bedner's Farm Fresh Market, Indian Trails Native Nursery, Nature's Corner Cafe, Kilwin's ice cream and chocolate, the Sierra Club, Audubon Society, and many more.

Meet and greet starts at 11:00 a.m., with lunch served at 12:00 noon.
Lunch is $40 for Friends members, Refuge staff and participating artists; $45 for all others. All proceeds go to the Friends, which benefit the Refuge.

Please RSVP to Cathy Patterson at by Friday, November 29.
Payment can be made online or by mail or in the Visitor Center at the Friends' Nature Store, using check, cash, Visa, Mastercard or Discover.
Make checks payable to "Friends of Loxahatchee Refuge" with notation "Friends Luncheon."
Mail to: Friends of Loxahatchee Refuge, P.O. Box 6777, Delray Beach, FL 33482
To pay online with PayPal: (Select Operating Fund)
Payment by cash or check also accepted at the door.

*** Have any items you'd like to donate? Contact Ron Seifer at 561-374-5122 or

Luncheon invitation:

Ask the Manager

Monday, December 9, 11:00 a.m.

This is your opportunity to meet with Refuge manager Rolf Olson and ask questions, suggest ideas for improvement, bring up any issues or concerns that you might have, and get up-to-date on what is happening at the Refuge. A few other Refuge staff members will also be on hand to help Rolf answer your questions. Meet in the Visitor Center theater.

Dynamic Composition 1-Day Photography Workshop

Saturday, January 18, 9:15 - 12:00 noon, Visitor Center theater

Back by popular demand, award-winning photographer Lance Warley is presenting a photography workshop on Dynamic Composition: Tools to Create Evocative Images, for any level photographer or visual artist interested in adding greater depth and emotional impact to your photos.

Email one of your photos for an optional critique to Lance by December 28. File size limit 500KB.

Space is limited. Please contact Lance to reserve your spot. Entry fee is $20 per participant, with all funds donated to the Friends of the Refuge.

Lance Warley 561-945-2074

Save the Dates! (Details to Follow):

Friends Annual Membership Meeting

Sunday, January 26

21st Annual Everglades Day Family Festival

Saturday, February 8

Plein Air Art Contest Reception and Awards Presentation

Sunday, February 16

Birds in Flight 3-Day Photography Workshop

Saturday, February 29, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon Visitor Center Theater
Sunday, March 1, 6:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Hands-On Photography - Wakodahatchee Wetlands
Saturday, March 7, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon Visitor Center Theater

Our award-winning photographers Mike Cohen and Don Hamilton are back, once again leading a 3-day intermediate level photography workshop. Participants who want to improve their basic technique, capture birds in flight, control depth of field and exposure, evaluate light and have some fun are welcome. Mike and Don will do their best to help people at whatever their level and interest, but this workshop will be most useful for intermediate to advanced photographers interested in improving their nature and wildlife image-making skills.

Space is limited. Participants must plan to attend all 3 sessions, bring your camera manual to all sessions and be generally familiar with the operation of their equipment, particularly how to set aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Entry fee is $50 per participant, with all funds donated to the Friends of the Refuge.

Please contact Mike or Don to reserve your spot. They will ask a few questions about your level of experience, your equipment and your goals in order to best prepare for the workshop.

Mike Cohen 954-815-5955

Don Hamilton 561-212-7358

2020 Calendars Are In!

Our lovely 2020 calendars filled with photos of the Refuge from this year's photo contest are now available for sale in the Friends Nature Store in the Visitor Center. Stop by and pick up one for yourself and for everyone else on your gift list!

35th Annual Everglades Coalition Conference

Thursday, January 9 - Saturday, January 11
Location: South Seas Island Resort, Captiva Island, Florida

For more information and to make reservations:

New Camera Could Turn the Tide in Fight to Save Wildlife From Pythons

A new camera developed by University of Central Florida researchers and the non-profit company Imec uses a special wavelength of light to expose pythons. These invasive snakes can often be hiding in plain sight, thanks to their near-perfect camouflage. Because pythons are cold-blooded and adopt the temperature of their surroundings, thermal imaging is useless in hunting them. But the camera uses a near infrared wavelength to detect the pythons, which reflect light at that level differently from the flora and waterways of South Florida. Research engineers mounted the camera on python hunter Donna Kalil's custom-built "python perch" - a snake sighting platform attached to her Ford Expedition - to test it in the wild. They are also working on mounting the camera on drones. An estimated 99 percent of furry animals in the Everglades, which once included thriving communities of raccoons, squirrels and rabbits, have disappeared since the python's arrival.

Conservationists Call for Revival of Florida Forever Funding

Conservationists gathered Monday at the Florida Capitol to celebrate the fifth anniversary of voters overwhelmingly approving Amendment 1, the Water and Land Conservation Amendment, and to call for it to be implemented as voters intended. The amendment was to set aside 33% of real estate documentary stamp taxes to spend on land and water preservation. But Florida Forever, the state's premiere conservation land-buying program, remains shortchanged - as it has been since 2010, receiving only $33.2 million in this year's budget - down from the $300 million level it annually took in during its first 20 years.

Lawmakers have spent millions of dollars set aside by Amendment 1 on administrative and operational costs in state agencies, prompting a lawsuit from environmental organizations that argued the Legislature was violating the terms of the amendment. Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson agreed that lawmakers improperly diverted money from the amendment but, on September 9, a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal overturned his ruling, saying he had erred in ruling that money from the amendment could only be used on land purchased after the voter-approved measure took effect.

State Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) has introduced legislation (SB 332) that would require a minimum of $100 million a year be placed in the Florida Forever Trust Fund to be spent on land acquisition. The bill also clarifies that the money cannot be used to fund "the budget entities that provide administrative support for the four state entities receiving these funds."

Governor Announces Legislation Encompassing Blue-Green Algae Task Force Recommendations

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced last month a clean water legislative package aimed at stemming toxic blue-green algae and levying meaningful fines for sewage spills that result from aging infrastructure. Recommendations from the governor's advisory Blue-Green Algae Task Force report formed the basis for the legislation, which the Governor said complemented other clean water moves, such as a three-year, recurring legislative allocation of $625 million to address clean water issues in the state.

Here are opinions and more information on what the task force did and didn't do from the local editorial boards:

And from the Fort Myers News-Press, some reason to be optimistic:
For years, conservation needs lost out as industry lobbyists shaped the legislative agenda in Tallahassee. But in 2018, spurred by a deadly confluence of red tide and toxic blue-green algae blooms, thousands of businesses in Southwest Florida banded together to push for stricter pollution limits and clean water. Seven Chambers of Commerce came together as the Southwest Florida Alliance of Chambers. Speaking with that kind of unified voice, and connecting the dots between water issues and jobs and economic impact, made the Florida legislature start to take notice:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are targeting Florida for a study on people who unwittingly breathe in the vapor of blue-green algae, specifically those who live and work near Lake Okeechobee and the northern estuaries. These kinds of algae outbreaks are not unique to Florida; they are a nationwide problem, from Oregon to the Gulf of Mexico to Lake Erie.

And while the Blue-Green Algae Task Force's work continues, a more recently appointed task force is studying the causes of red tide outbreaks:

Land Obtained for Everglades Agricultural Reservoir

The sugar grower Florida Crystals has agreed to the early end of a controversial lease on land south of Lake Okeechobee envisioned for a Stormwater Treatment Area linked to a new reservoir in the Everglades Agricultural Area. An extension of the lease last November by the South Florida Water Management District's governing board resulted in Governor Ron DeSantis - in one of his first actions after being inaugurated - calling for all members of the board to resign. The 6,170 acres the company agreed to give up is slated for a Stormwater Treatment Area that will clean Lake Okeechobee water before it can be sent south into the Greater Everglades.

Last week, the Governor and Florida Cabinet approved the termination of a separate but related lease. This was a 30-year lease that Florida Crystals had asked the prior Governor and Cabinet to approve in 2013 to grow sugarcane on 1,234 acres of state-owned land. When environmental groups objected to the extensions because the land was likely to be needed in the future for Everglades restoration, Florida legislators inserted language into legislation that would moot any legal challenges. As a result, in order to get out of the lease, the state now has to pay $2.4 million in termination fees to Florida Crystals. The land is planned to be part of the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir, which will curb and filter Lake Okeechobee discharges to prevent the spread of toxic blue-green algae into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers and restore the natural "sheet flow" of the Everglades into Florida Bay. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to build the reservoir, while the District constructs the water-cleansing Stormwater Treatment Area.

The state's plan is to get the federal government to provide at least $200 million a year in match-funding until the reservoir work is completed. But after providing $200 million in federal funding for the 2020 fiscal year, the administration's fiscal 2021 budget request seeks only $63 million for Everglades restoration. In a March visit to Lake Okeechobee, President Trump seemed amenable to boosting the funding, a high priority for Governor DeSantis and Florida's Congressional delegation, but there has been no movement since.

And a year after the President signed the Water Resources Development Act authorizing the reservoir, U.S. Representative Brian Mast and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio are urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stop delaying it. In their letter dated October 23 they wrote, "as of today, the Corps is nine months late."

Lake Okeechobee Levels Low Heading Into Dry Season

The underwater grasses of Lake Okeechobee and the aquatic life they support have come back to life after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lowered water levels prior to the rainy season, allowing sunlight to reach areas that have suffered for years from too high water levels. Lowering the lake also benefited the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, avoiding the freshwater discharges that dilute the brackish estuaries and increase the risk of blue-green algae growth. But in August, after the shortest wet season on record, U.S. Sugar filed a federal lawsuit against the Corps, claiming its decision to lower water levels below federal guidelines puts South Florida's ecosystem and water supply for 6 million people at risk. This is the opposite problem that a lawsuit filed against the Corps in June sought to address, namely the "unmitigated releases of Lake Okeechobee water into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers and estuaries." The earlier lawsuit was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Calusa Waterkeeper and Waterkeeper Alliance.

Lake Okeechobee provides water to farms, the Miccosukee and Seminole Indian tribes, and serves as a backup water source for West Palm Beach and Palm Beach. It is also used to prop up groundwater supplies and prevent saltwater intrusion.

Former Martin County Commissioner Maggy Hurchalla takes issue with some of U.S. Sugar's stated concerns, for example, suggesting that the risk to boaters' health and lives from running aground in low water is equivalent to a dike break at high water. She points out the serious health effects caused by last year's outbreak of toxic blue-green algae, blamed in part on discharges from the lake. On the other hand, when the lake is low, U.S. Sugar continues to get lake water even after Palm Beach County's supply has been cut off. "The Catch-22 in Lake Okeechobee management is that the SFWMD has given away water use permits for more lake water than they have."

Florida Appeals Court Rules Against Citizens' First Amendment Rights

In a case involving questions about First Amendment rights and allegations of malice, former Martin County Commissioner Maggy Hurchalla has gone to the Florida Supreme Court in a battle stemming from her opposition to a project that included limerock mining. She is asking the Supreme Court to overturn a 4th District Court of Appeal ruling that upheld a $4.4 million verdict against her. The League of Women Voters, the Sierra Club, the First Amendment Foundation, the ACLU and 12 other organizations and individuals have filed friend-of-the-court briefs on behalf of the public's right to free speech on matters of public interest.

Meanwhile, 1000 Friends of Florida has filed suit in Circuit Court in Tallahassee to strike down the part of a law that says the losing party must pay the other side's legal fees in a lawsuit over enforcing a community's comprehensive plan. This was HB 7103, a bill that was passed at the eleventh hour without discussion as this year's legislative session was coming to a close. In the past, the winner could be compensated only if the court ruled the complaint to be frivolous or in bad faith. Now the loser must pay regardless. The loser could be the developer or the private citizen but, in practice, it's the developers who can afford the risk and private citizens who can't. After the governor and legislature dismantled the state's growth management laws in 2011, such lawsuits are the only recourse citizens have had to try to ensure that any approved development is in compliance with the comprehensive plan.

The same Fourth District panel ruled against Maggy Hurchalla and the public in a related case, holding that a public agency can forever refuse to disclose anything pertaining to mediations that settle lawsuits. The case came to the court's attention when the South Florida Water Management District sued the nonprofit Everglades Law Center after it asked for a meeting transcript through a public records request - something everyone has the right to do. If the ruling is allowed to stand, then whatever motivated the District to approve a multimillion-dollar settlement with a rock mining company in 2017 will forever remain a secret.

New Rules Include Restrictions on Burning Sugarcane

New statewide safety rules about prescribed burns include more restrictions on burning fields of sugarcane, in response to concerns raised by the Sierra Club and others about the affects on air quality and human health. Sugarcane farmers typically burn the fields between October and April to remove outer leaves of stalks before harvesting.

Some Northern Bahamas Coral Reefs Devastated; Others Survived Hurricane Dorian

In one of the first scientific expeditions to the coral reefs of the Northern Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian, researchers from the Perry Institute for Marine Science found ghostly devastation in some areas, while others were barely touched. The Perry Institute survey is unique because the group has been studying and restoring coral reefs in the Northern Bahamas for years, taking thousands of photos that can be knit together to form an image of a full reef.

The Perry Institute worked with the West Palm Beach-based Angari Foundation on the expedition. The foundation, started by sisters Angela and Kari Rosenberg in 2016, offers trips on its 65-foot research vessel at cost to educational and non-profit groups. It is the realization of the sisters' decade-long dream: to open doors to marine scientists who they had found were often stymied by a lack of funds. They have worked with a Discovery Channel film crew working on a Shark Week special, helped U.S. Geological Survey scientists studying sea turtles in Everglades National Park and ferried the University of South Florida's Oceanography Camp for Girls on three-day trips offshore of Tampa Bay.

Snowy Plover Has Banner Nesting Year Thanks to Hurricane Michael

While 2018's Hurricane Michael brought destruction to people and wildlife alike in Florida's Panhandle, it also created the perfect nesting habitat for the snowy plover. When sea oats and coastal panic grass overgrow dunes, crowding beaches with dense vegetation, the snowy plover is more vulnerable to predators, no longer able to hide itself or its nest, and unable to see what's stalking it. The hurricane reset the beach to the open and sparsely vegetated conditions shorebirds like the snowy plover prefer, leading to the best nesting year in over a decade for the tiny bird.

National Parks Threatened by Weakening and Waiving of Environmental Laws

Construction of a border wall at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona is now proceeding, despite several pending lawsuits challenging the action due to the risks to wildlife, wild lands and 22 archaeological sites. The new 30-foot wall will block the endangered Sonoran pronghorn, javelinas, bobcats, mountain lions, federally threatened desert tortoises and other wildlife from accessing critical water supplies and migration routes. The all-night stadium-type lighting will affect the behavior of bats and other nocturnal animals and degrade the dark night skies. Many of the park's iconic saguaro cacti have been bulldozed in order to install the new wall.

The National Parks Conservation Association lists 10 other actions that have negatively affected National Parks over the last few months, including:
The weakening of the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Rule, the Clean Power Plan and the Regional Haze Rule;
The redirection of $2.5 million in Park Service fee revenue slated for much-needed maintenance and visitor services projects to the Fouth of July celebration on the National Mall;
A reorganization of offices within the Department of Interior that forced the resignation or relocation of hundreds of experienced staff members.

Audubon Releases Climate Change Report: 389 Bird Species on the Brink

The National Audubon Society has announced a groundbreaking climate report, "Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink." Here is an overview of how five of Florida's most iconic species may react to climate change:

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Join the Friends!

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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, 1982-2019



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