Last Month's Newsletter

ARTHUR R. MARSHALL LOXAHATCHEE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

SCHEDULED PROGRAMS        February 2020

21st Annual Everglades Day Family Festival

Saturday, February 8, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Parking at West Delray Regional Park, 10875 W Atlantic Ave, Delray Beach

Join us for Everglades Day, our all-day family festival, with activities for all ages. This year's theme is "Habitats of the Everglades." Enjoy guided tours, nature walks, bird walks, wildlife demonstrations, presentations, exhibits, games, kids' fishing, kids' archery, face painting, canoeing, live music, dance, food trucks and much more! The Palm Beach Zoo, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary and Okeeheelee Nature Center will exhibit some of their rehabilitated wildlife and the Plein Air painters will be all around the Refuge painting what they see.

All day free admission. Free parking for visitors 3 miles south of the Refuge at West Delray Regional Park, 10875 W Atlantic Ave, with buses running to the Refuge Visitor Center and back continuously, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Visitors in wheelchairs and those with other special needs can use one of two vans that will be looping among festival venues, starting at the Visitor Center. Volunteers also park at West Delray Regional Park, with the first bus leaving at 7:00 a.m. for those helping with setup.

Everglades Day program schedule:
www.loxahatcheefriends.com/upload/EvergladesDay2020ProgramSchedule.pdf

Video:
i-mark.net/Everglades_Day_Final_C.mp4

Thank you to all of our donors and sponsors who have made our 20th annual Everglades Day possible, with special thanks to the Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, Audubon Everglades and the Friends of the Refuge!

Boat Ramp Closed for Everglades Day

The boat ramp at the west end of Lee Road will be closed on February 8 for Everglades Day.

Plein Air Art Contest Reception and Awards Presentation with Ukulele Music

Sunday, February 16, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.

After watching the artists of Plein Air Palm Beach creating their works of art here on Everglades Day, come join the Friends and the artists for a reception and awards presentation on Sunday afternoon of the following weekend in the Visitor Center theater. Enjoy light refreshments and meet and mingle with the artists to the gentle sounds of ukulele music from the Boynton Uke Society.

The paintings will be on display in the Visitor Center theater until April, so even if you can't attend, please come out later and see for yourself the outstanding artwork! Most of the paintings will be available for purchase. A portion of the proceeds (20%) will be donated to the Friends.

Family Fishing Day

Saturday, February 22, 1:30 - 4:30 p.m.

Learn about knot-tying, fish identification, fishing ethics and conservation, casting and fishing. Fishing poles and bait are provided, or you can bring your own. Youth under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Participants between the ages 16 and 64 must possess a Florida Fishing License. Meet at the Visitor Center.

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

Junior Ranger Manager Program Day

Friday, February 28, 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 noon

Become a Junior Refuge Manager and help us protect our resources! Elementary-aged youth are invited to earn a Junior Refuge Manager Badge. All youth must be accompanied by an adult.

The day will begin with an orientation session in the Visitor Center theater, with the remainder of the morning available for participants to circulate among four stations around the Marsh Trail, the Cypress Swamp, and the Visitor Center exhibit area. Activities will introduce topics including alligators, ferns and Everglades habitats. After completing the activities, participants will review their work with an environmental educator, take a pledge to help preserve wild places like the Refuge, and be presented with their Junior Refuge Manager badge.

The Junior Refuge Manager Day program is free with paid admission to the Refuge. February 28 is a teachers' professional development and duty day in Palm Beach County, so students have the day off. Students in public, private, and home school are invited to participate in this event. The event will be rain or shine and participants should dress as appropriate for the weather. For more information please call the Visitor Center at 561-734-8303.

Freshwater Fly Fishing

Saturday, February 29, 1:00 p.m.

Participants can try their hand at freshwater fly fishing. A limited number of fly rods are available, so please bring your own or borrow one from a friend if possible. Email arm_loxahatchee@fws.gov by February 26 to register.

Secrets of the Everglades Tours

Every Thursday, 1:30 - 2:30 p.m.

Join a volunteer naturalist who will reveal secrets about the formation of the Northern Everglades and the Refuge's current habitats, aquatic plants and animal life. Walk through wetland areas and take a look at what lies beneath the surface! Learn about Loxahatchee peat, spider lily, spatterdock and periphyton and why the once threatened American alligator now thrives at the Refuge.

Best suited for ages 8 and up, but all ages welcome. Must be able to traverse up to one mile on flat, unpaved grassy surface. Inclement weather may cause cancelation - call the Visitor Center at 561-734-8303 to confirm. Bring water, hat, sunscreen and insect repellent. Meet at the Marsh trail parking lot.

Guided Bike Tours

Every Saturday & Sunday, 10:00 a.m., except February 8

Bring your bicycle and helmet and join your guide for a 6.5-mile wheeled tour. Gain perspective with an introduction to the historic dimensions of the Northern Everglades and then pedal to selected Refuge features, interesting plants and hopefully wildlife! Learn about the unique role of the Refuge and the challenges posed by exotic pest plants. Meet in the Marsh Trail parking lot.

Night Walks

Monday, February 10 & 24, 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.

Everglades Tram Tours

Daily, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. except February 8
Every Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday & Wednesday, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. except February 8

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.

Twilight Tram Tour

Tuesday, February 11, 6:00 p.m.

Experience sunset over the Everglades followed by a moonlit drive on the marsh in an open-air tram. The tour lasts between 1 and 2 hours. Meet at the Visitor Center.

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

Sunrise Photography Tours

Photography Walking Tours - Sunday, February 9, 7:00 a.m. & February 23, 6:50 a.m.
Photography Tram Tour - Sunday, February 16, 6:55 a.m.

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 may be required because space is limited to give personal attention to each photographer. Walking tours may cover a distance of 3 - 5 miles. Meet at the Marsh Trail parking lot near the gazebo. Sunrise times are approximate.

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

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:
www.fws.gov/nwrs/threecolumn.aspx?id=2147602841
... and view our Bird Checklist:
www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/2011_%20ARM_Loxahatchee_NWR_BirdList(2).pdf

Swamp Strolls

Every Friday & Saturday, 1:30 - 2:30 p.m.

Join a volunteer naturalist for a guided tour on the 0.4 mile Cypress Swamp Boardwalk. Learn about the swamp ecosystem from cypress tree knees to animals that call the swamp home. Your guide will talk about how the plants of the swamp were used in the past and present for medicine, food, fiber, transportation, construction, and ceremonial objects. Meet at the Visitor Center.

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

Every Friday, 12:30 - 3:30 p.m.
Every Sunday, 1:30 - 3:30 p.m.
Tuesday, February 11 & 25, 12:30 - 3:30 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

Sunday, February 16, 9:00 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: www.youtube.com/watch?v=BW49VXaOvGU&feature=related

Moonlight Guided Canoe Tours

Saturday, February 8, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 7, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 11, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 9, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 6, 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.)

RESERVATIONS REQUIRED - Call LOXAHATCHEE CANOEING at 561-733-0192.

*** 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 www.loxahatcheefriends.com/events/events.shtml

Binoculars Needed!

If any of you have any old binoculars you no longer use, we would love to have them! Refuge visitors who don't have their own binoculars have been able to "check out" a pair to use for the day, but our supply has dwindled to only three. In recent days we have had to turn visitors away, binocular-less. If you have any that you would be willing to donate, please bring them to the Friends nature store in the Visitor Center. Thank you!

Fee-Free Day: Presidents' Day - February 17

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is waiving admission fees at all National Wildlife Refuges on Presidents' Day, February 17.

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 mykey4photo@gmail.com 954-815-5955 www.flickr.com/photos/mykeyc www.mykey.smugmug.com facebook.com/mike.cohen.182

Don Hamilton flyinghamiltons@comcast.net 561-212-7358 www.flickr.com/photos/78230469@N02 500px.com/DonHamiltonJr

37th Annual Photography Contest

Entries accepted now thru Sunday, March 29
Reception and Award Presentation: Sunday, May 3, 1:00 p.m.

Entries for the Friends' annual Photography Contest are now being accepted at the Visitor Center. All entries must be taken on the Refuge or in areas adjacent to the Refuge, including the Stormwater Treatment Areas STA1E & STA1W.

Six categories will be accepted - Avian, Fauna, Flora, Landscape, Artistic and Youth. All entries must be submitted on a CD, DVD or USB flash drive. Winners will be announced at the Awards Reception at the Visitor Center on May 3.

If you need assistance with digitizing or post-processing or have other questions, please contact loxcontest@gmail.com or visit www.loxahatcheefriends.com/photocontest

For the Contest Entry Form and the complete set of rules, go to: www.loxahatcheefriends.com/upload/LoxPhotoContest2020.pdf

COBWRA Water and Wetlands Symposium: Water Wise and Why

Tuesday, February 11, 5:30 p.m.
Location: Tuscany Bay Clubhouse, 5087 Palazzo Place, Boynton Beach

The Coalition of Boynton West Residential Associations is presenting a symposium and environmental expo featuring educational exhibits and a distinguished panel of experts, including Moderator Lisa Interlandi of the Everglades Law Center and Panelists Paul Owens, President of 1000 Friends of Florida, Jeremy McBryan, Palm Beach County Water Resources Manager, Laurie Albrecht, Palm Beach County Environmental Horticulture Agent - UF/IFAS Extension, and Robert Robbins, Sustainable Palm Beach County Board Member. Educational, interactive displays will be provided by over 10 exhibitors. Pre-Registration is recommended at cobwra21120.eventbrite.com, but walk-ins are welcome. For more information about COBWRA, go to www.cobwra.org.

Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group: Wakodahatchee/Refuge Nature Walk

Saturday, February 22, 9:30 a.m.

Join the Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group for a 2-part Nature Walk in the "Birder Paradises" of Wakodahatchee Wetlands and our own Refuge. Each location provides accessible boardwalks, allowing for easy viewing of birds. Suggested donation: $12 Sierra Club members, $15 non-members. Participant limit is 20 people. Reserve your spot by contacting the Leader: Adriene Barmann, Adrieneb1960@gmail.com or 954-328-9447.

Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group: Updates on the Stop Sugar Field Burning Campaign

Thursday, February 27, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Speaker: Patrick Ferguson, Esq., Sierra Club Organizing Representative
Location: Quaker Meetinghouse, 823 N. A St, Lake Worth

The Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group's monthly meeting will feature Patrick Ferguson, sharing what he learned last summer when he visited the Native Brand's Green Cane Project in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the largest organic agricultural operation in the world producing 100% burn-free green harvested sugarcane. He will discuss how Florida's environment and the communities impacted by toxic pre-harvest sugarcane field burning can benefit from the adoption of sustainable burn-free green harvesting as practiced in Brazil. He will also provide the latest updates on the growing momentum of the Stop Sugarcane Field Burning Campaign's push to end pre-harvest sugarcane field burning in favor of green harvesting. The meeting is free and open to the public.

Seeking Public Comment on Weakening Protections for Migratory Birds

Since the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was enacted in 1918 it has been unlawful to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, or sell migratory birds without a waiver and without taking reasonable precautions. However, a legal opinion issued by the Department of Interior on December 22, 2017 interpreted the MBTA to prohibit only intentional taking and killing. Since then, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declined to penalize companies whose actions have had lethal consequences for birds across the country, regardless of whether or not reasonable precautions were taken or could have been taken to prevent the deaths. Since guidelines under the new interpretation of the law were issued in April 2018, hundreds of ducks, geese, herons and migrating birds have perished in oil pits, on utility lines and in other operations without penalty, according to documents compiled by conservation groups. Under the stronger version of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Service had successfully worked with the oil and gas industry to cut in half the number of birds killed in oil pits. Last week, Interior Department officials said that they will propose regulations clarifying that individuals and industrial operators, such as oil, gas and wind companies, will not be penalized if they accidentally kill birds - even on a massive scale. Under the new proposed regulations, companies at the center of disasters such as the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, which killed an estimated 250,000 birds, and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, estimated to have killed more than 1 million birds, would not be penalized.
www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2020/01/30/controversial-trump-legal-opinion-weakened-law-protect-birds-now-they-want-make-it-permanent/

The Fish and Wildlife Service is now seeking comment on the proposed regulations. If you would like to submit a public comment you can use the Action page set up by Audubon:
act.audubon.org/onlineactions/_g3AwivRA0CnotOktjzvPQ2

Seeking Public Comment on Weakening Protections for Public Lands

The National Environmental Policy Act is a 50-year old law that requires the federal government to evaluate the environmental impacts of major projects on public lands and to accept input from the public as part of that review. But a new proposal would undercut NEPA by limiting public input and allowing companies to conduct environmental reviews themselves. Currently under the law, projects that are anticipated to have a major impact on wildlife, habitat, communities or water supplies, such as building roads and transmission lines, leasing and drilling on public lands, and clearcutting forests, require an Environmental Impact Statement and public comment. The proposed changes would redefine which projects need environmental reviews in the first place and then ignore indirect or cumulative impacts of a project, such as downstream pollution and climate change. The proposal claims to "streamline and clarify" the NEPA process, but according to the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the agency that oversees the review process, nearly 95 percent of projects subject to environmental review are deemed low risk and granted a categorical exclusion.

If you would like to submit a public comment to the White House Council on Environmental Quality, you can use either of these Action pages set up by Audubon and by the National Parks Conservation Association:
act.audubon.org/onlineactions/DvHx1h8IOkGUaqhJ1sAcww2
p2a.co/7WvKeSn

Seeking Public Comment on EAA Reservoir

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is now accepting public comment on the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir. This reservoir when completed will help restore the natural "sheet flow" of the Everglades into Florida Bay, and curb and filter discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers in order to prevent the spread of toxic blue-green algae.

Comments will be accepted until Monday, February 24th, by email to EAAReservoir@usace.army.mil or by mail to this address:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District
ATTN: Andrew LoSchiavo
701 San Marco Boulevard
Jacksonville, Florida 32207-8175

The reservoir was included in last year's federal funding bill that earmarked $200 million for Everglades restoration work. The bill was passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by the President in the nick of time on December 20, just before federal funding ran out at midnight. Federal funding for the Everglades in the 2018-19 fiscal year had been only $67 million.
www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article238585728.html

Protections for Wetlands Under Clean Water Act Rolled Back

Federal protection ended last month for many of the nation's millions of miles of streams and wetlands. The policy change by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers narrows the types of waterways that qualify for protection under the 1972 Clean Water Act, allowing businesses to dump pollutants in streams and fill in some wetlands.
apnews.com/2386f9f4af34d81ae32629dead464af3

The new definition of federally protected wetlands will make an estimated 6 million acres of Florida's wetlands vulnerable to developers. The only wetlands that will still be federally protected are those immediately adjacent to a major body of water, or ones that are connected to such a waterway by surface water. The impact on Florida is likely to be significant because Florida has a very seasonal type rain climate which results in lots of seasonal wetlands, which will no longer be protected. Wetlands had been protected under the Clean Water Act because they filter pollution out of storm runoff, soak up floodwaters before they can cause damage, recharge the aquifer's drinking water supply and provide crucial habitat for important wildlife species.
www.tampabay.com/environment/trump-wetlands-rule-rollback-makes-about-6-million-acres-in-florida-unprotected-20181213/

Florida Conservation Voters urges you to contact Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to oppose this rollback and has provided an Action page you can use to send him an email:
p2a.co/WqhhdIb

Everglades Land Purchase Will Block Oil Drilling

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday the state has an option agreement to buy 20,000 acres that Kanter Real Estate LLC owns in western Broward County. Part of the land has been subject to years of litigation between Kanter and state and local governments over the right to drill an exploratory oil well in the Everglades. Although the Florida Department of Environmental Protection initially had denied Kanter's permit request, an appeals court ruled that Florida law did not provide a basis for that denial.
www.news-journalonline.com/news/20200115/florida-legislature-2020-deal-could-prevent-drilling-on-everglades-land
www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/fl-ne-everglades-oil-drilling-buy-20200115-aefh3yaq6rcrdaekhpjclnszry-story.html
www.flgov.com/2020/01/15/governor-ron-desantis-announces-agreement-for-acquisition-of-20000-acres-of-critical-everglades-wetlands/
www.sun-sentinel.com/news/florida/fl-ne-nsf-everglades-land-purchase-approved-20200203-jrx5xedum5dopikbc6nypnxyce-story.html

Encouraged by the land buyout stopping the threat of oil drilling in the eastern Everglades, environmental groups called on the governor to step in and stop another oil drilling plan in the Everglades, 25 miles west in Big Cypress National Preserve, where Burnett Oil Company is currently conducting oil exploration activities. That land on the northwest border of Everglades National Park is prime panther habitat. DeSantis said the state is also seeking to address separate plans to drill in Big Cypress.
www.sun-sentinel.com/news/florida/fl-ne-oil-drilling-florida-20200123-uxay56ckuzea3iijupfvervml4-story.html

Water Quality Bill Advances in Florida Legislature

Hopes are high that one or more water quality bills will pass in the Florida legislature this year, after last year's session ended without the passage of any of the bills that would have addressed reducing the main sources of pollution. In the Florida Senate, SB 712 would move oversight of septic tanks from the state Department of Health to the Department of Environmental Protection and would direct DEP to adopt rules for where septic tanks can be located. It would direct DEP to develop updated stormwater rules, new rules to limit leaks from underground sewer pipes and new rules for managing the application of biosolids used as fertilizer. In watersheds where septic tanks or sewer systems are contributing more than 20% of the nutrient pollution, or in areas where septic and sewer improvements are deemed necessary to reach pollution reduction goals, Basin Management Action Plans would have to include "remediation plans" to cut pollution from these sources.
www.jacksonville.com/news/20200122/new-water-pollution-rules-advance-in-florida-senate
www.sun-sentinel.com/opinion/editorials/fl-op-edit-clean-water-agriculture-florida-20191227-r3zqdvwurvg65npijdjda6gvze-story.html

Audubon Florida and 1000 Friends of Florida have more information on SB 712 and other bills they are tracking this legislative session on their websites:
audubon.stagecoachdigital.com/web-view/17089
1000fof.org/legis/legis-2020/

Judge Tosses Lawsuit Over Water Levels in Lake Okeechobee

A federal judge tossed out a lawsuit that U.S. Sugar had filed against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after the Corps temporarily changed its management strategy for Lake Okeechobee. Last year when the Corps lowered lake levels ahead of the rainy season in an effort to avoid harmful discharges to the northern estuaries in the warm summer months when they contribute to the growth of toxic blue-green algae, U.S. Sugar raised alarms about potential water shortages. But now that the Corps has indicated it will return to higher lake levels, another legal challenge is being contemplated, this time by Stuart on the Treasure Coast, where memories of those years of toxic algae remain fresh.
www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20200116/judge-tosses-us-sugar-lawsuit-over-lake-okeechobee-but-now-stuarts-considering-filing-suit

County Votes to Increase Limits on Commercial Development in Ag Reserve

The Palm Beach County Planning Commission voted 7-6 last month to initiate a change in the county's growth plan to increase the commercial cap in the Agricultural Reserve in order to allow a 13,000-square-foot, medical office building on a narrow, two-acre lot at Delray Marketplace. The lot is a preserve parcel, which means nothing can be built on it.

This marked the second time in less than a month that commissioners voted to accommodate a builder whose project was jeopardized by rules designed to limit development in the Ag Reserve. Earlier in January, the commission voted to initiate a change to the growth plan that will consider self-storage facilities as non-commercial and, therefore, exempt from the commercial cap. Nursery operators had asked for the change so they could store landscaping equipment on preserve parcels, a significant policy change that was rejected just 18 months ago.

County voters in 1999 overwhelmingly agreed to spend $100 million to acquire about 2,400 acres in the Ag Reserve, a 22,000-acre farming and conservation area located west of Delray Beach and Boynton Beach, just east of the Refuge. That purchase, along with development restrictions in the remainder of the Reserve, were intended to preserve the land's viability for farming.
www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20200130/delray-marketplace-could-get-medical-office-building-despite-cap-on-commercial-space----how-is-that-possible
www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20200106/county-code-changing-to-allow-landscaper-storage-in-western-communities-and-not-everyone-is-happy-about-it

Florida Panther Kittens Adopted After Mother Stricken With Neurological Disorder

A pair of endangered Florida panther kittens are thriving after being adopted by a Nassau County wildlife refuge after a mysterious neurological disorder left their mother unable to care for them in the wild. State wildlife biologists stepped in to save the sibling pair because their 2-year-old mother had fallen prey to a debilitating disorder that researchers recently identified as feline leukomyelopath, which has stricken at least a half-dozen panthers and bobcats statewide. You can see the kittens on video and lots more information here:
www.jacksonville.com/news/20200129/orphaned-florida-panther-kittens-thriving-at-nassau-county-wildlife-refuge

Florida panther road kills were down in 2019 compared to recent years, but that might not be a good thing as more road kills generally means there are more panthers. Twenty-seven panther deaths were documented last year by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, with twenty-three of them due to vehicle collisions. An estimated 120 - 230 Florida panthers live in the state, mostly in or near Collier County.
www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20200106/florida-panther-road-kills-overall-deaths-down-in-2019

You can see one unfortunate panther with the disease caught on camera here:
www.news-press.com/story/news/2019/12/26/fwc-says-feline-leukomyelopahty-is-causing-neurological-issues-in-florida-panthers/2713013001/

Eighty Pythons Removed from Everglades in 2020 Python Bowl

At least 80 invasive Burmese pythons were removed from the Everglades in 10 days as part of the Florida Python Challenge 2020 Python Bowl. First introduced through the pet trade, Burmese pythons have few predators and eat everything from rabbits and birds to alligators. 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.
www.sun-sentinel.com/news/fl-ne-2020-python-challenge-awards-20200126-ccq57nh6z5dvvekgunssubfgfa-story.html
www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20200126/lsquosuper-bowlrsquo-of-python-removal-draws-750-participants-to-everglades
www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20200120/video-watch-this-python-hunter-grapple-with-wily-reptile-as-floridarsquos-python-challenge-comes-to-end
www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20200107/we-want-you--to-help-catch-and-kill-invasive-burmese-pythons

National Wildlife Refuges and Parks Targeted for Border Wall

The National Wildlife Refuges that run along our southern border from Texas to California offer some of the most important habitats for wildlife in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Over the past 41 years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been buying up land on the lower Texas-Mexico border to protect one of the most biologically diverse regions in North America from developers and farmers. But now these refuges are ground zero for the planned border wall. Recently, NPR's All Things Considered featured a story about the refuge lands that are threatened in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas:
www.npr.org/2020/01/14/795215639/border-wall-threatens-national-wildlife-refuge-thats-been-40-years-in-the-making

The wall is already destroying wild land and threatening rare species at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona:
www.npca.org/articles/2409-budget-deal-boosts-funding-but-hurts-border-parks

EPA Insider's New Book Has Advice For Climate Activists

Friends member and former U.S. EPA "insider" Richard W. Emory, Jr. has recently published a book, "Fighting Pollution and Climate Change: An EPA Veteran's Guide How to Join in Saving Our Life on Planet Earth." Richard joined the EPA in 1980, where he helped create the new EPA criminal enforcement program. From 1990 to 1992 he served as EPA's top criminal lawyer, acting as chief legal advisor nationwide for EPA's law-enforcement agents investigating the worst pollution crimes in the U.S. From 1994 to 2011 he taught and consulted globally for the EPA on environmental laws, treaties, and their implementation and enforcement.

From inside EPA headquarters, 40 years ago scientists saw climate change coming as a problem caused by air pollution. After being denied or belittled all those many years, this issue has finally entered widespread awareness. Richard's book provides needed and timely advice to new activists in the nation and around the world.

For more information about the book and about the author, go to fightingpollutionbook.com.
If you would like to follow the book on Facebook, please "friend" the author at www.facebook.com/richard.w.emory.

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Or, if you don't have the link handy, just go to smile.amazon.com and select "Friends of the Arthur R Marshall Loxahatchee Natl Wildlife Refuge" (You can just search for "Loxahatchee" but don't try to spell out "National" or it won't work!)

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www.facebook.com/loxahatcheefriends
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:
www.loxahatcheefriends.com/membership/membership.shtml

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

Elinor Williams
Friends of Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
www.loxahatcheefriends.com
www.facebook.com/loxahatcheefriends

"There are no other Everglades in the world." ~Marjory Stoneman Douglas
Celebrate with us, The Friends of Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, 1982-2020

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