Last Month's Newsletter


Visitor Center Closed Thanksgiving Day, November 23

The Visitor Center will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, November 23, but the grounds will remain open.

2018 Calendars Now Available

Our lovely 2018 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!

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 January, $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 2017

Twilight Everglades Tour

Tuesday, November 7, 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, November 21, 6:00 p.m. - New Moon

Experience the unique sights and sounds of the Everglades at night! Meet at the Visitor Center for a guided twilight tour of the Refuge. 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.

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

Tram Tours of the Marsh

Every Monday, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. except November 13
Tuesday, October 28, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
Every Wednesday, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.
Every Thursday, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. except Thanksgiving, November 23

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.

Swamp Strolls

Every Monday & Thursday, 1:30 - 3:00 p.m. except Thanksgiving, November 23

Meet a volunteer naturalist for a guided tour of the Cypress Swamp Boardwalk. Learn about the swamp ecosystem from cypress tree knees to animals that call the swamp home. Meet at the pavilion behind the Visitor Center.

Early Morning Bird Walks on the Marsh Trail

Every Wednesday, 7:30 - 10:30 a.m. except November 8 (see "Fly Out" below)

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

Early Morning Bird Watch and Walk - Fly Out

Wednesday, November 8, 6:30 - 10:00 a.m.

Join a volunteer naturalist from the Audubon Society of the Everglades to watch the birds fly out from the interior of the Refuge, then follow them for an early morning bird walk along the Refuge impoundments. Meet in the boat launch parking area at the west end of Lee Road.

Roving Naturalist on Cypress Swamp Boardwalk

Every Sunday, 1:30 - 3:00 p.m.
Tuesday, November 21, 1:30 - 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.

Guided Canoe Trips

Saturday, November 11, 9:00 - 11:15 a.m.
Saturday, November 18, 9:00 - 11:15 a.m.
Saturday, November 25, 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 Trips

Saturday, December 2, 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 - 8th Annual Juried Art Contest Reception and Awards Presentation

Sunday, November 12, 1:00 p.m.

Join the Friends and distinguished judge Deb LaFogg-Docherty for our Loxahatchee Visions awards presentation on Sunday, November 12, in the Visitor Center theater. Afterwards, enjoy wine and cheese, fruit and soft drinks on the Pavilion, and meet and mingle with the artists.

The entries will be on display in the Visitor Center theater until mid-January, so even if you can't attend on Sunday, please come out later and see for yourself the outstanding artwork! Most of the artwork is available for purchase. A portion of the proceeds (25%) will be donated to the Friends.

Veterans Day Fee-Free Weekend - November 11 - 12

The Department of the Interior is waiving admission fees at all National Wildlife Refuges on Saturday, November 11, and Sunday, November 12, in recognition of Veterans Day.

Audubon Society of the Everglades: Saving the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow

Tuesday, November 7, 7:00 p.m.
Speaker: Paul R. Reillo, Ph.D., President, Rare Species Conservatory Foundation, and Co-Director, Tropical Conservation Institute, FIU
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, learn about the critically endangered Florida Grasshopper Sparrow, and the captive breeding program aimed at preventing its imminent extinction. Dr. Paul R. Reillo of the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation will share his insights and tell of how for the first time ever in captivity, the Foundation was successfully able to hatch four chicks earlier this year!

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

Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group's Thanks and Giving Celebration

Saturday, November 11, 6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Location: Community Foundation, 700 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach

Join the Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group for their annual fundraising party and silent auction, the Thanks and Giving Celebration. Tickets are $45 after November 5 and at the door. Enjoy hot and cold hors d'oeuvres, soft drinks, beer and wine, plus musical entertainment by Rob Arenth and a Fashion Show designed from recycled trash presented by International Designer Aidana Baldassarre. Meet Rob Robbins, Director of the nationally acclaimed Palm Beach County Environmental Resource Management agency and 2017 Environmental Champion of the Year. To buy tickets go to

Auction proceeds benefit outreach programs for underserved youth, Inspiring Connections Outdoors, the Elaine Usherson Camp Scholarship Fund and the Loxahatchee Group's conservation efforts. Contact Sheila Calderon at if you have a donation (value of $25 +) to contribute to the auction.

The Everglades: Through the Eyes of Children - Photography Mentors & Cameras Needed!

Wednesday, November 29, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon ** Note date change **

This unique, student photography project will bring talented photographers and educators together with students from the Sacred Heart School in Lake Worth for a lively learning experience that builds environmental awareness and basic photography skills. Approximately 60 4th and 7th grade students will arrive at the Refuge by bus, along with mentors, teachers and parent chaperones for a hands-on nature experience. The goal is to provide each student with a digital camera and additional on-site photography equipment available for their use. Students will roughly edit their photos at the end of the session and submit their photo cards for judging by professional photographers and exhibition at a later date.

For many, the accompanying discussion of careers that connect to nature and the environment is a first step in developing a life-long passion. For others, it can be the start of a lifelong interest in nature photography.

If you would be able to share your photography talents with up to 5 kids, or if you have a used or new camera you could donate, please contact Nancy Marshall at

Birds in Flight 3-Day Photography Workshop

Saturday, January 20, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon Visitor Center Theater
Sunday, January 21, 6:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Hands-On Photography - Wakodahatchee Wetlands
Saturday, January 27, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon Visitor Center Theater

After glowing reviews for three years in a row, photographers Mike Cohen and Don Hamilton are 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. For birds in flight, the longer the lens the better, with 200mm a minimum. 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

Dynamic Composition 1-Day Photography Workshop

Saturday, February 17, 8:30 - 11:30 a.m. Visitor Center Theater

For the first time ever, 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 up to 3 of your photos for optional critiques to Lance by February 1. 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 Date! Friends Annual Membership Meeting

Sunday, January 28, 1:00 p.m.

Join the Friends for our annual membership meeting in the Visitor Center auditorium, followed by wine and cheese, fruit and soft drinks on the Pavilion.

Save the Date! 19th Annual Everglades Day

Saturday, February 10, 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Join us for Everglades Day, our all-day family festival, with activities for all ages. The theme of the day will be "Colors of the Everglades." Enjoy tours, nature walks, bird walks, wildlife demonstrations, presentations, exhibits, games, kids' fishing, kids' archery, canoeing, music, dance, food trucks and much more! All day free admission. Details to follow!

33rd Annual Everglades Coalition Conference

Thursday, January 11 - Sunday, January 14
Location: Hutchinson Island Marriott Beach Resort and Marina, 555 NE Ocean Blvd, Stuart
Last Day for Discounted Early Bird Registration: December 13

For more information and to make reservations:

Public Comment Invited on Refuge Land Exchange

Deadline for Public Comment: November 11

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking your input on a Draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment for a Land Exchange between the State of Florida and the Refuge. The proposal would transfer Compartment D on the western edge of the Refuge, known as the Snail Farm, from the Service to the South Florida Water Management District, and the Strazzulla Marsh on the eastern edge of the Refuge from the District to the Service. The exchange would benefit both parties. The District would gain land for a Stormwater Treatment Area needed to implement a portion of its Restoration Strategies Initiative, and the Service would gain conservation land that represents an important transition zone from cypress forest to sawgrass marsh that would contribute to meeting some of the objectives outlined in the Refuge's Comprehensive Conservation Plan. For information on how to submit comments and to view the Draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment go to:

Friends Awarded Great Ideas Initiative Grant from PBC Children's Services Council

The Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County has just awarded the Friends of the Refuge a grant of $12,420 to provide funding for an education intern. Environmental education is a primary objective of the National Wildlife Refuge System, and over 3,000 schoolchildren take field trips to the Refuge each year to learn about and experience the Everglades first hand. The intern will be able to help Refuge staff with lesson planning and work with the children, enabling the Refuge to reach and educate even more children.

The Great Ideas Initiative, started by the Council in 2016, provides grants of up to $25,000 to nonprofits with proposals that enhance the lives of Palm Beach County's children. We are very grateful to the Children's Services Council for this grant, as well as to the many Friends members whose generosity made possible our recent donation of $4,000 to the Palm Beach County School District for field trip transportation. Thanks to all of you, we expect to see many more schoolchildren descend upon the Refuge in the coming year!

FIU Gets Approval to Continue Everglades Restoration Testing at LILA

The South Florida Water Management District approved a three-year research contract with Florida International University last month to test a crucial Everglades restoration hypothesis in the Loxahatchee Impoundment Landscape Assessment (LILA) facility. The LILA facility is an 80-acre model of the Everglades ecosystem built at the Refuge by the District, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2003. Each of the 20-acre cells can simulate different types of Everglades habitat, and pumps can be used to test droughts, floods and other conditions.

The "living laboratory" facility allows scientists to study techniques for water management and the impact on a small-scale replica of the Everglades ecosystem before applying them to the entire 1.7-million acre Everglades. The university, which has been conducting scientific research at the LILA facility for the past decade, will work with District staff to study important factors of how changes in water levels in the Water Conservation Areas impact the ecology of tree islands.

Everglades Restoration: A Need for Speed

Fresh water from the Kissimmee River used to flow south into Lake Okeechobee. During the rainy season, the overflow would go through the Everglades all the way to Florida Bay. In her op-ed, former Martin County Commissioner Maggy Hurchalla speaks for Martin County residents who want Everglades restoration sped up to stop the discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie River that have polluted their waterways, hurt their businesses and endangered their health. She also speaks for Miami-Dade residents and Florida Bay fishermen who need Everglades restoration to restore their fishing grounds and protect the Biscayne Aquifer from salt-water intrusion. And she expresses concern that the reservoir authorized in this year's legislative session to store lake water in the Everglades Agricultural Area and eventually send it south, is not moving forward.

S.B. 10 gained the support of the sugar industry under the assumption that the existing A-2 flow basin site could be used for the reservoir and that there would be no need to buy more land. Hydrologists were unanimous in saying the A-2 site wouldn't work. It was scheduled to become a Stormwater Treatment Area. If you put a reservoir on that site, it wouldn't have the capacity to clean up the water that needs to go south. S.B. 10 was written to give the A-2 a chance and then, if models show that more land is needed, more land would be bought. But that land needs to be authorized during the 2018 session of the Florida Legislature. And therein lies the concern.

In her op-ed, Audubon Florida's Celeste de Palma voices another reason to speed up restoration plans - to protect us from hurricanes and rising seas. As the largest subtropical wetland ecosystem in North America and the largest mangrove ecosystem in the Western hemisphere, the Everglades are South Florida's first line of defense against incoming storms. Research shows that 2.7 miles of wetlands reduce storm surge by a foot, and one acre of wetlands holds up to 1.5 million gallons of floodwaters.

Echoing these concerns is a CBS News story from earlier this year. Research projects show how salt water is already damaging vital sawgrass plants. Roseate Spoonbills are moving north, as the small freshwater pools they need to feed are disappearing from the Everglades.

In this extensively-researched article on the Everglades for Field and Stream Magazine, the reporter sums up his findings by remarking, "I don't think I have, in 20 years of reporting, encountered a story like this one, where the effects of non-action - extraordinary water pollution events on two coasts, drying out, flooding, and polluting a National Park, a dwindling aquifer upon which huge cities and future development depends, and the destruction of the enormous Florida Bay - are so very clear."

Secretary of Interior Tours the Everglades

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke visited the Everglades last month and affirmed the administration's commitment to Everglades restoration and repair of the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee. Secretary Zinke toured Lake Okeechobee, Big Cypress National Preserve, Everglades National Park and, though not mentioned in the article, he visited our Refuge as well.

Lake Okeechobee Hits 12-Year High After Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma, followed by an unnamed but soggy tropical wave, caused water levels in Lake Okeechobee to rise above 17 feet, more than 3 feet in a month, reaching a 12-year high that triggered daily inspections of the fragile Herbert Hoover Dike. The inspections found some increased seepage but no signs that the dike was being eroded. Because rain amounts have also been high to the east and west of the lake, water managers have had limited options on where to put the water. Discharges from the Lake east into the St. Lucie River and west into the Caloosahatchee River harm the brackish estuaries and can cause toxic algae blooms. To minimize such harmful discharges in the future, the South Florida Water Management District has been considering deep injection wells that will pump water 3,000 feet down into cavernous areas called the Boulder Zone. While this would give water managers more options on where to put the water, the concept is controversial and has been rejected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Concerns include the risk of contaminating groundwater supplies and the diversion of funds away from restoration projects that would actually send the water into the Everglades where it is needed.

For more on deep injection wells...

Water farms may offer a more promising solution for storing polluted water from Lake Okeechobee. One pilot project on a former citrus grove in Martin County has recently been expanded, with the goal of storing up to 35 billion gallons of water every year, instead of sending it into fragile estuaries and rivers, causing fish kills and harming marine and tourism industries.

More Oil Drilling Approved in Everglades

A state judge has revived an oil-drilling proposal for the Everglades of western Broward County, recommending that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issue a drilling permit to Kanter Real Estate. The Florida DEP had earlier rejected the company's application, which had generated considerable local opposition, citing the impact to wetlands and lack of evidence that sufficient oil was there. The judge's ruling has now forced the DEP to reconsider permits the department has already rejected.

Not that the Florida DEP has rejected all permit applications. Earlier last month the DEP approved plans for a Texas company, Burnett Oil Company, to conduct seismic testing for oil in a portion of the Big Cypress National Preserve, which has had two oil fields since the 1970s, despite concerns that the work could harm the habitat of panthers, black bears and other wildlife.

Wildfires Made More Catastrophic by Lack of Funding

The deadly wildfires that have burned communities in Western states to the ground are not just natural disasters, but manmade ones as well. The L.A. Times makes that case in this article:

Here's the short version:
The U.S. Forest Service is strapped for cash. Its firefighting budget amounts to a fraction of what it actually costs to fight fires, so it is left with no choice but to raid funds from other programs in its budget - many of them oriented toward preventing the very fires it is fighting. Prevention efforts are put aside as dollars are funneled to putting out flames. Even in the wine country blazes, which are not on federal land, the Service has sent 1,500 firefighters to help out the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, along with dozens of fire engines, air tankers, helicopters and water scoopers.

This is not the way Washington confronts other disasters. Hurricane, tornado and earthquake assistance and relief come from emergency funds that can be accessed without robbing other programs. The bipartisan Western Governors' Association warned Congressional leaders that they have "allowed severe wildfires to burn through crippling amounts of the very funds that should instead be used to prevent and reduce wildfire impacts, costs, and safety risks to firefighters and the public." Congressional leaders agree that a fix is urgently needed, particularly as fires grow in duration and intensity, but they do not agree on the solution. Many Republicans demand that any solution involve intensifying the amount of logging on public land, allowing large clear-cuts in federal forests, and weakening the National Environmental Protection Act, while Democrats point to research that climate change is a major driver of the intensifying fires, not too little commercial logging.

Our own Refuge Fire Specialists Grant Gifford and Tom Ledbetter often spend their summers fighting wildfires out West and all over the country, and their services often come at the expense of the Forest Service.

Development Pressure on PBC's Ag Reserve Intensifies

GL Homes' proposal to put more than 2,000 homes in Palm Beach County's Agricultural Reserve, in exchange for building fewer homes in rural Loxahatchee, continues to stir controversy. The Ag Reserve is a 21,000-acre farming region west of Boynton Beach and Delray Beach between the Refuge and Florida's Turnpike. In 1999 Palm Beach County voters overwhelmingly approved spending $100 million to purchase 2,400 acres in the Ag Reserve in order to preserve the land for farming and environmental protection. Now a member of the Palm Beach County Planning Commission has resigned, citing frustration with large-scale development projects that have been recommended by the commission. In his resignation letter, Domenic Guarnagia specifically mentions GL Homes and writes, "I have no way of fighting the proposed changes."

If GL Homes' proposal is approved, the company has promised to donate 75 acres for a high school and 30 acres for an elementary school, all in the Ag Reserve, plus $10 million toward the high school's construction.

A senior living facility and a children's daycare have been proposed for a 13-acre vacant parcel in the Ag Reserve west of Boca Raton...

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

Shop for the Holidays in Our Nature Store!

Visit the Friends' nature store in the Visitor Center, where you'll find a large selection of nature-themed books for children and adults, nature jewelry, wildlife-themed T-shirts, original artwork and much more. Be sure to pick up our lovely 2018 Calendar with photos from this year's photo contest. Maybe you know someone who would appreciate a yearly pass to the Refuge - just $12 - or a Friends membership.

Shop on Amazon and Support the Friends!

Shop at AmazonSmile and Amazon will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to the Friends, at no extra cost to you! Bookmark this link:
Or, if you don't have the link handy, just go to 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!)

Like Us on Facebook!

Thanks to Denise Valentin we have a very active community of Friends on Facebook:
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 $20 per person or $30 for a family membership, but they're going up in January! 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!


If you would like to be removed from this mailing list, please reply to this e-mail.


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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