Last Month's Newsletter


Note: In the event of a government shutdown, any activities scheduled at the Refuge on those days will be canceled.

SCHEDULED PROGRAMS        February 2018

19th Annual Everglades Day Family Festival

Saturday, February 10, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Join us for Everglades Day, our all-day family festival, with activities for all ages. This year's theme is "Colors 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!

Guest speakers include Richard Crossley, author of the Crossley ID Guide for Water Fowl, Dr. Nick Aumen, Regional Science Advisor for South Florida for the U.S. Geological Survey reporting on the status of Everglades restoration, and battlefield preservationist Guy Bachmann on the Colorful & Tragic History of the Seminole Wars.

Other special guests include South Florida singer/songwriter Grant Livingston, Everglades Python Hunter Edward Mercer, avian researcher Dr. Kenneth Meyer, alligator researcher Dr. Laura Brandt, flamingo expert Dr. Frank Ridgley, wildlife photographer Lance Warley, and biologist Dr. John Galvez giving his fish electroshocking demos.

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. Parking for visitors will be at the Solid Waste Authority recycling center 1 1/2 miles south of the Refuge's Lee Road entrance, with buses running to the Refuge and back continuously. Parking for volunteers, exhibitors and Plein Air painters will be at Monte's Package Co. 1/2 mile south of the Lee Road entrance, with a courtesy van running to the Refuge and back.

Everglades program schedule:

Boat Ramp Closed for Everglades Day, Fishing Pier Remains Closed

The boat ramp at the west end of Lee Road will be closed on February 10 for Everglades Day.

The fishing pier next to the boat ramp remains closed due to damage incurred during Hurricane Irma.

Alligators of South Florida

Thursday, February 22, 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: Laura Brandt, Ph.D., Regional Scientist, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Location: Visitor Center theater

All are invited to learn about the current and future status of the iconic alligator from the leading authority on alligators in South Florida, Dr. Laura Brandt.

Twilight Everglades Tour

Tuesday, February 13, 6:00 p.m. (No Moon)
Tuesday, February 27, 6:00 p.m. (Full 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. Try to arrive a little before 6:00 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.

Bike Tours of the Marsh

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

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.

Tram Tours of the Marsh

Daily, Monday - Friday, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.
Every Monday & Thursday, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.

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.

Early Morning Bird Walks on the Marsh Trail

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

Join our volunteer naturalist for an early morning bird walk on the Marsh Trail. Meet in the Marsh Trail parking lot. Check out recent sightings from eBird Trail Tracker:
... and view our Bird Checklist:

Swamp Strolls

Every Monday & Thursday, 1:30 - 3:00 p.m.

Meet a volunteer naturalist for a guided tour of the 0.4 mile 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.

Roving Naturalist on Cypress Swamp Boardwalk

Every Sunday, 1:30 - 3:00 p.m. except February 11
Tuesday, February 13 & 27, 1:00 - 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

Every Saturday, 9:00 - 11:15 a.m. except February 10

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, March 3, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 31, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 28, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 26, 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

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.

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

Fee-Free Day: Presidents' Day - February 19

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is waiving admission fees at all National Wildlife Refuges on Presidents' Day, February 19.

35th Annual Photography Contest

Entries accepted now thru Sunday, April 1
Reception and Award Presentation: Sunday, May 6, 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 6.

If you need assistance with digitizing or post-processing or have other questions, please contact or visit

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

Audubon Society of the Everglades: Barn Owls - Nature's Mousetrap

Tuesday, February 6, 7:00 p.m.
Speaker: Dr. Richard Raid, Professor/Plant Pathologist & Manager of the Barn Owl Project, Everglades Research & Education Center, University of Florida
Location: Pine Jog Environmental Education Center, 6301 W. Summit Blvd, West Palm Beach, Rooms 101 and 102

All are invited to the monthly meeting of the Audubon Society of the Everglades for an exciting and insightful explanation of how conserving barn owls provides an invaluable natural and non-poisonous rodent control measure for Florida's valuable agricultural management. Dr. Richard Raid recalls how he started Student SOAR -- Sharing Our Agricultural Roots -- as a school gardening program so that kids could see how vegetables are grown and where our food actually comes from. Now more than 70 schools participate throughout Florida, most of them established by Raid himself. His passion for teaching and the outdoors inspires students and instills in them an appreciation of the importance of agriculture.

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: Cypress Creek Natural Area Restoration Tour

Saturday, February 24, 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Tour Guide: David Witmer, Environmental Analyst, Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management
Location: Cypress Creek Natural Area, 10035 W. Indiantown Road, Jupiter. Meet at the north parking lot.

The monthly meeting of the Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group will be an exploration of a wetland restoration area, fire-maintained flatwoods, and transitional hammock with David Witmer. His work with Palm Beach County's Environmental Resources Management Department includes the removal of invasive exotic species, conservation of threatened and endangered species, and restoration of environmentally sensitive lands. The trip will be about 3 miles with up to ankle deep water!

The meeting is free and open to the public.

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,

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

Congratulations to Our Outstanding Friend of the Year - Celeste DePalma!

At the Friends annual membership meeting on January 28, our Outstanding Friend of the Year was awarded to Celeste DePalma, Everglades Policy Associate for Audubon Florida, for her extraordinary efforts to protect this Refuge from a possible takeover by the state of Florida. When the state first issued a notice of intent to terminate the lease under which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service operates the Refuge due to the lack of funding to control invasive exotics, Celeste swung into action to mobilize public opinion and demonstrate the importance of the Refuge - as a National Wildlife Refuge - to us all.

She organized conference calls to coordinate the efforts of local, state and national organizations - including the Audubon Society, National Wildlife Refuge Association, Defenders of Wildlife, National Wildlife Federation, Florida Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group, Everglades Law Center, Friends of the Refuge and many others. These organizations issued action alerts to their members resulting in over 64,000 letters being sent to Governor Rick Scott who reportedly was "surprised" by the outpouring of support from across the country!

Celeste organized a community forum in December of 2016 to bring teachers, students and other members of the public together with staff members from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Discover the Palm Beaches, resulting in numerous positive articles in the press. She organized a letter-to-the-editor-writing campaign to make sure the issue stayed in the press and to counter any negative letters that appeared.

Celeste is also a Board Member of the Everglades Coalition. She recently received the 2017 Audubon Staff of the Year Award, and the 2018 Everglades Coalition's George M. Barley Conservationist of the Year Award for her efforts to protect the Refuge. Is it any wonder??? And now she has yet another award from her very grateful Friends at the Refuge. Congratulations and more appropriately, THANK YOU to Celeste!

Do You Know the Difference in a Park and a Refuge?

A slide show of the Refuge is featured in this article inspired by WLRN reporter Peter Haden's visit to the Refuge last week...

Python Traps Tested on the Refuge

Having already infested Everglades National Park and decimated mammal populations there, invasive Burmese pythons are heading north. Refuge Biologists Rebekah Gibble and Andrew Eastwick say it's just a matter of time before they make themselves at home here on the Refuge. That's why the Refuge was chosen for testing the python traps developed by biologists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Here's what Palm Beach Post report Kimberly Miller learned on her visit to the Refuge last week...

Reservoir to Relieve Lake Discharges to the Coasts Feared Not Big Enough and Not Soon Enough

Passing last year's bill to create a reservoir to move water south from Lake Okeechobee instead of releasing it into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries was only the beginning of the battle, not the end. Senate President Joe Negron made passing the bill a top priority, but now he and a number of resident and conservation groups have questioned the proposed size of the reservoir. Negron last month wrote to the South Florida Water Management District that the district's current plans "may be unnecessarily constrained by using a limited footprint." A bigger footprint would allow for a shallower reservoir, with less-massive walls and a treatment area larger than what's currently proposed. While state-owned land in the Everglades Agricultural Area south of the lake could be made available, it would require terminating some leases with sugar cane growers. Publicly-owned parcels elsewhere also could be traded for land near the reservoir.

Another concern is that completion of the reservoir could be years away. A big factor in the timeline for design and construction of the reservoir is waiting for federal government approval of its half of the roughly $1.6 billion project. The reservoir requires changes to the federal Central Everglades Planning Project, which means the South Florida Water Management District needs approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on how to incorporate it into the plan. The District's Executive Director Ernie Marks said in a Dec. 22 letter to the acting assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works in Washington, D.C. that it has been a "very slow and disappointing experience trying to reach agreement" with the Corps.

However, Colonel Jason Kirk, Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Jacksonville District, responded with an op-ed touting the progress made in implementing the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Program and in planning for the first elements of the Central Everglades Planning Project...

The District's plan has also been criticized by the Miccosukee Tribe, who fear their lands will be receiving harmful nutrient-laden water tainted by agriculture north of the lake. The tribe sent a letter to the District saying the plan discriminates against the Miccosukee in favor of the Treasure Coast.

Take Action:

The Now or Neverglades Coalition has set up an Action Page so that you can contact Governor Rick Scott and urge him to cancel the leases and increase the size of the reservoir:

Study Shows Septic Tanks Contribute to Toxic Algae Blooms

Lake Okeechobee is not the lone culprit in the recurring algae blooms in the St. Lucie Estuary and Indian River Lagoon. According to a recently published Florida Atlantic University study, algae in freshwater discharges from the lake grows exponentially when it reaches the St. Lucie River because of heavy nitrogen levels from septic tanks. The fresh lake water weakens the brackish water ecosystem, then the algae feeds on the reactive forms of nitrogen, such as ammonium and nitrate, that come from the tanks. The study was able to trace the nitrogen's source not to fertilizer but to human sources due to the presence of sucralose, an artificial sweetener, that was found in water samples. Sucralose is not broken down by the body, and not used by cattle.

Tracking Florida's Legislative Session

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

Two bills of concern:

SB 574/HB 521 - Any regulation of tree trimming, removal or harvesting of trees would pre-empt to the state, meaning no local government would be able to protect trees without explicit approval from the legislature. Opposed by Audubon Florida and 1000 Friends of Florida.
Sign the Tree Petition:

SB 1402/HB 7043 - Delegate Clean Water Act to state - would pave the way for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to take responsibility for much of the federal permitting and enforcement activities under the Clean Water Act's dredge and fill (Section 404) program. While the agency commits to assuming and maintaining the Act's standards for wetland protection, they suggest additional staff would not be needed to take on this large responsibility. Opposed by Audubon Florida.

One good bill:

SB 370/HB 1353 Florida Forever - Dedicate $100 million annually from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to the Florida Forever land conservation program. Establish minimum funding levels for land conservation from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund. Passed in the Senate, including the Parks, Not Paper Clips amendment to ensure conservation dollars are used for conservation purposes, not agency administrative costs.; has yet to receive a hearing in the House. Supported by Audubon Florida, 1000 Friends of Florida and Florida Conservation Voters.

Audubon Florida's position on all of the bills listed here can be found at:

Tracking Florida's Constitution Revision Commission

1000 Friends of Florida is also tracking certain amendments to the Florida constitution under consideration by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission. This commission convenes every 20 years to examine and propose changes to the Florida Constitution. Any proposals that pass the commission's final vote will be placed on the general election ballot in November and must win at least 60 percent voter approval to become law.

Proposal 95: One proposal in particular that was strongly opposed by 1000 Friends of Florida and Audubon Florida was recently voted down in the commission's Local Government Committee. However, an amended version may still be brought to the full commission for a vote. Proposal 95 provides "A regulation enacted by a county, municipality, or special district may not intrude upon or impede commerce, trade, or labor across the respective entities boundaries." If this proposal became a part of Florida's Constitution, it could strike down local government ordinances on environmental protection, land use, and growth management throughout Florida.

For more information and to sign Audubon Florida's petition:

Proposal 91: One proposal that is strongly supported by a number of environmental organizations would ban oil and gas drilling in Florida's near shore waters.

Oil Drilling Nothing New in the Everglades

While the debate about offshore oil drilling rages, onshore oil drilling in Big Cypress National Preserve continues, as it has for 75 years...

Budget Shortfall Threatens Funding for Palm Beach County Natural Areas

The Board of Palm Beach County Commissioners is formulating their 2019 budget now, and there are potential significant cutbacks to the natural areas program. About 31,000 acres of preserved lands need at least $6.4 million annually to be properly maintained so that current levels of invasive species management, trail maintenance, forest fuel reduction, and public access can continue.

Audubon of the Everglades has initiated a letter-writing campaign to urge the county commission to look for ways to restore funding for the maintenance of Palm Beach County's natural areas:

City of Five Proposes 44,000 Homes for Western Palm Beach County

The City of Westlake pitched a proposed future density plan to the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council that could increase the currently approved 4,500-residence community to about 44,000 to 46,000 and nearly 11 million square feet of commercial space during the next 20 years. The planning council's role in reviewing Westlake's draft plan is largely advisory, after the governor and legislature repealed Florida's widely-praised growth management laws in 2011.

Westlake began as a project from developer Minto known as Minto West. Under the plans approved by Palm Beach County at that time, the developer can build up to about 4,500 residences. Taking advantage of a law recently passed by the legislature to make it easy for a handful of residents in an area to incorporate, five people "living in a trailer" at a single address voted in 2016 to incorporate as the City of Westlake, potentially freeing the "city" from the county's development restrictions. The county's comprehensive plan and land-use regulations will remain in place until Westlake approves its own comprehensive plan.

New Interpretation of Migratory Bird Treaty Act Puts Birds at Risk

In December, the Department of Interior released an interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act that eliminates its ability to hold industries accountable for bird deaths. Millions of birds die from preventable causes such as oil waste pits, oil spills, electric transmission lines, and more. Had this interpretation been in place after the Gulf oil spill, BP would have been off the hook for killing one million birds and would not have been required to pay a $100 million fine that is helping restore bird habitat. See Audubon's Action page for more information:

Florida Grasshopper Sparrow's Future Depends on Captive Breeding Program

The future of a nearly extinct Florida Grasshopper Sparrow hinges on a captive breeding program in a nonprofit wildlife facility in Loxahatchee. It is vanishing from its home in Central Florida's dry prairies as they are being degraded by land development, cattle grazing, man-made pollution and climate change...

How does a Bighorn Sheep Say "Cheese?"

As motion-detecting wildlife cameras get ever smaller, cheaper and more reliable, scientists across the country are using them to document elusive creatures like never before. GPS collars can be used to map individual animal movements, but cameras can capture more animals and answer questions that collars can't, such as whether an animal is migrating alone or with many others. Cameras do have their drawbacks. Animals such as wolverines and bears have been known to attack them, and humans have been known to moon them...

Warmer Weather is Turning Sea Turtles Female

Thanks to warmer temperatures, nearly all of the baby sea turtles hatching on Boca Raton beaches are turning out female. Only females hatchlings have been found when nest temperatures exceed 80 degrees. The same phenomenom has been documented on Australian beaches. This could be a good thing in the short term, with an increasing number of nests found in recent years, but not so much for the long term, when today's babies find the dating pool has dried up.

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 Bradley Rosendorf 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 $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!


If you would like to be removed from this mailing list, please reply to this email.


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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