Last Month's Newsletter


SCHEDULED PROGRAMS        March 2017

Ask the Manager

Thursday, March 2, 2:00 p.m.

This is your opportunity to meet with Refuge manager Rolf Olson and ask questions or discuss any issues or concerns that you might have about 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.

Night Prowl Everglades Tour

Tuesday, March 14, 6:30 p.m. - Full Moon
Tuesday, March 28, 6:30 p.m. - New Moon

Meet at the Visitor Center at 6:30 p.m. for a guided night prowl of the Everglades. 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.

Early Morning Bird Walks on the Marsh Trail

Every Wednesday, 7:30 - 10:30 a.m. except March 22 (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, March 22, 6:30 - 11:30 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. For more information e-mail or call 508-296-0238.

Guided Bird, Butterfly and Wildflower Walk

Every Friday, 8:30 - 10:30 a.m.

Join our volunteer naturalist for an early morning nature walk and see how many birds and other critters you can spot. Learn about our migratory and year-round residents of the Refuge and their habitat. Your guide will discuss the marsh ecology, answer your questions and identify the birds, butterflies, plants, reptiles and anything else you might find along the way. Meet in the Marsh Trail parking lot.

Swamp Strolls

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

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.

Tram Tours of the Marsh

Every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. except March 15
Thursday, March 23 & 30, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.

Take a Tram tour of the marsh with our volunteer naturalist, who will take you from the Visitor Center to the boat ramp to the LILA impoundments, then back through the C10 impoundment and the Marsh Trail, across to the Arthur R. Marshall kiosk and back to the Visitor Center. 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.

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

Guided Canoe Trips

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

Meet at the Lee Road Boat Ramp to enjoy a beautiful canoe tour through a portion of the Refuge interior. You may rent a canoe for $33 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:

Full Moon Guided Canoe Trips

Saturday, March 11 , 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 8, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 6, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Friday, June 9, 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 $33; 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

34th Annual Photography Contest

Entries accepted now thru Sunday, April 2
Reception and Award Presentation: Sunday, April 30, 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 April 30.

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:

Plein Air Paintings on Display

The Plein Air paintings created on Everglades Day are now on display and will remain in the Visitor Center theater until April 8. Come discover the beauty of the Refuge through our artists' eyes!

Audubon Society of the Everglades: Creative Butterfly Gardening

Tuesday, March 7, 7:00 p.m.
Speaker: Tom Hewitt, Freelance writer and creator of Mounts Botanical Garden's Butterfly Garden
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 how to create and plant a stunning butterfly garden in your own yard or patio from gardener extraordinaire Tom Hewitt. At Mounts Botanical Garden, Tom turned a small inconsequential nursery into a volunteer-driven, financially successful source of delight by finding, propagating and growing hard-to-find plants suitable for South Florida gardens. These plants have been used throughout Mounts and sold to thousands of visitors. Today the Mounts Butterfly Garden is a special oasis filled with butterflies and their caterpillars and eggs.

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

New Conservation Stewardship Training Course

Every Monday from March 27 through May 8, 9 :00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

The Audubon Society of the Everglades, in partnership with the IFAS/UF Extension of Palm Beach County, has engaged 17 excellent instructors/trainers for this 7-week basic environmental education course, the first of its kind. Fieldwork at six beautiful natural areas around the county will complement classroom study. The course is designed to help the average citizen understand the importance of five different Florida natural habitats and how they sustain plants and wildlife and adapt to climate change. It will encourage and empower stewards to make a personal commitment to develop an action plan to nurture and advocate for a local natural area they love.

The syllabus includes the following topics/natural areas:
March 27: Habitat 101, Ecological Overview of Greater Everglades and Palm Beach County/UF-IFAS Extension at Mounts Botanical Gardens
Apr 3: Freshwater Wetlands/Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
Apr 10: Pine Flatwoods/Pine Jog Environmental Center
Apr 17: Scrub/Yamato Scrub Natural Area
Apr 24: Estuaries & Hammocks/John D. MacArthur State Park
May 1: Beaches and Dunes/ Juno Dunes Natural Area
May 8: Advocacy/ UF-IFAS Extension at Mounts Botanical Gardens

The course fee is $90 and includes catered lunch. ASE 2017 "chapter-only" members receive a $15 discount. The class will be capped at 30 participants. Register at:

For more information visit or e-mail or call 561-876-8815.

Florida Earth Foundation - Natural Systems

Wednesday, March 29 - Thursday, March 30

Florida Earth Foundation is sponsoring a 2-day seminar on Natural Systems, with the 2nd day here at the Refuge - Thursday, March 30. The 2-day session includes a trip to Everglades National Park on the first day, lunch both days and an airboat tour south of the Refuge at the end of the 2nd day. Cost is $200 for both days or $100 for one day. Friends members who want to attend the lecture portion only on Thursday are welcome to attend for free. Here's the link for more information and to register:

For more information contact Stan Bronson at or 561-281-5081.

Science in Support of Everglades Restoration - Dr. Nicholas G. Aumen

Thursday, March 2, 6:00 p.m. Cocktail Reception & Zoo Animal Encounters
                   6:30 - 8:00 p.m. Lecture & Discussion
Location: Palm Beach Zoo's Tropics Cafe

Journey through the Everglades and gain a scientific perspective from Dr. Nick Aumen, Regional Science Advisor for the Southeast Region of the U.S. Geological Survey, and overseer of the Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystem Sciences Program.

Admission is $25, or $20 for Zoo members. Purchase tickets at

Volunteer Appreciation Lunch

Wednesday, March 15th, 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Location: C-6 Pavilion

All volunteers are invited! Please RSVP to Ana at or 561-732-3684 ext.3684.

Lee Road Cleanup - Volunteers Needed!

Saturday, April 22, 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.

Come out and help the Friends pick up litter from the entrance road to the Refuge. The Friends have officially adopted Lee Road from U.S. 441 west to the Refuge gate under the Palm Beach County Adopt-a-Road Litter Control program. Please wear closed-toed shoes, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen and bug spray. Meet at the Visitor Center to get your safety vest, plastic gloves and instructions. Water and light snacks provided. Students can receive Community Service hours. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old or accompanied by a parent or guardian. For more information contact Cathy Patterson at 561-301-5056 or

Friends Cookbooks Now on Sale!

The long-awaited Friends cookbooks are here, thanks to Cathy Patterson, Sue Rowe and their cookbook committee. All of you who submitted recipes and all of you who would like to try a few of them should stop by the Friends nature store and pick one up. Check out the native Florida section with recipes for Cocoplum Jam and for the brave of heart, Snakehead Supreme. Price is $19.95 - all proceeds benefit the Friends of the Refuge. Here's a picture of Cathy and Sue and their cookbook:

Thank You for Making Everglades Day the Biggest Ever!

A record-breaking 4,660 visitors came out last month for our 18th annual Everglades Day. By all accounts, everyone enjoyed the day and many compliments were received with promises to return again next year. Check out these photos taken by some of our photographers and Plein Air painters:

And thank you to Sun-Sentinel reporter Jan Engoren for this promo that helped bring out all those visitors:

Refuge Partners with Pine Jog to Restore Habitat

On February 2 Refuge staff partnered with Pine Jog Environmental Education Center to host a field day for over 130 3rd through 5th graders from a nearby Title 1 elementary school. Students planted native grasses and wildflowers as part of an ongoing prairie restoration at the Center. They also participated in two educational exercises designed to teach the importance of habitat for wildlife. All 4th graders in attendance were presented with Every Kid in a Park passes.

On February 21 staff again partnered with Pine Jog to plant over 200 pond apple trees in the C10 impoundment. This ongoing partnership is part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's Urban Wildlife Conservation Program and is featured on their website:

Tell Congress Not to Slash Refuge System Funding!

The National Wildlife Refuge Association urges all of us who care about our National Wildlife Refuges to ask your Congressional representatives not to slash funding for the National Wildlife Refuge System. President Trump's proposed FY '18 budget calls for a 10% funding cut, almost $50 million below the current insufficient budget of $481.4 million resulting in a paltry $433.3 million for the entire system of 566 National Wildlife Refuges. This budget would result in permanent refuge closures, staff layoffs, limited hours of operation for refuges that can remain open, loss of hunting and fishing access, termination of volunteer programs, and declines in wildlife management practices like habitat restoration and invasive species removal. To contact your U.S. Senators and Representative, you can go to NWRA's action page:

Tracking Florida's Legislative Session - Bills of Concern

Florida's legislative session begins on March 7, 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:

Florida Conservation Voters is holding weekly calls on Fridays at 1pm from now through May 5 for a concise review of current environmental legislation. They invite you to join the call at
Optional dial in number: 850-972-9727 (no PIN needed)

1000 Friends of Florida is particularly concerned about Senate Bill 996 filed by Senator Keith Perry of Gainesville. The bill would stymie public participation in government by forcing Floridians who unsuccessfully challenge development decisions to pay the attorney fees of real estate developers up to $50,000. The bill even requires citizens to pay developers' legal tabs if the case is settled under mutually agreed upon terms. 1000 Friends urges you to contact Senator Perry at 352-264-4040 or and ask him to withdraw SB 996.

Another bill of concern is House Bill 17 filed by Representative Randy Fine of Palm Bay. This bill would preempt all local government regulation of businesses to the state legislature and repeal all existing local government regulations not authorized in state law on January 1, 2020.

And Audubon Florida is concerned about Senate Bill 816 filed by Senator David Simmons under the auspices of reducing discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries. The bill would have the State of Florida take responsibility away from the federal government for repairing and operating the aging Herbert Hoover Dike that surrounds Lake Okeechobee and place the burden on Florida taxpayers. The bill seeks to divert $1 billion from Florida's Land Acquisition Trust Fund using Florida Forever bonds. In 2014, 75% of voters supported Amendment 1, which established this trust fund for preserving conservation lands and waters.

Tracking Florida's Legislative Session - Good Bills

Florida Conservation Voters asks you to protect Florida's water supplies by urging your State Senator and Representative to support a ban on fracking. Please ask your State Representative to co-sponsor House Bill 451 by calling 844-899-9394 and ask your State Senator to co-sponsor Senate Bill 442 by calling 844-899-8866.

And environmental organizations from around the state are asking you to support Senate Bill 10 and House Bill 761. These bills authorize water storage in the Everglades Agricultural Area as part of the Everglades Restoration Plan to reduce damaging Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, while providing more upstream freshwater for the Southern Everglades and Florida Bay. The bills provide a solution to the algae blooms and seagrass die-offs in coastal waters and will help restore the parched marshes to bring back wildlife in the Everglades. See below for more detailed information.

The Everglades Trust strongly recommends calling your State Senator and Representative as the best way to get their attention:

This webpage also invites you to sign the #NowOrNeverglades declaration or, if it's easier, you can text the word WATER to the number 66866 and sign up there.

State Senate President Champions Bill to Send Water South

Florida State Senate President Joe Negron has proposed buying 60,000 acres of farmland south of Lake Okeechobee and building a 120 billion gallon reservoir. That reservoir would reduce the need to dump polluted water into fragile coastal estuaries when the lake rises high enough to threaten the Herbert Hoover Dike, and it would also provide water to re-hydrate Everglades National Park.

Under the federal-state cleanup effort, Senator Negron envisions a 50/50 split on the $2.4 billion cost, leaving the state's portion at $1.2 billion. He would use money allocated through Amendment 1, the environmental land initiative that voters overwhelmingly adopted in 2014.

Senator Negron represents Martin County, where last year massive discharges during a wet winter once again caused toxic algae blooms in the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon and closed beaches.

Senate Bill 10, filed by State Senator Rob Bradley, would enable paying for the reservoir. HB 761 is its companion bill in the State House.

However, the South Florida Water Management District governing board members and other state leaders, including Governor Rick Scott, have questioned building a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee and instead have favored exploring water storage opportunities north of the lake.

The sugar industry and communities around the lake, which rely heavily on agriculture for jobs, have opposed parting with farmland to build a reservoir.

Maggy Hurchalla of Stuart, a member of the Governor's Commission that helped create the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), wrote this op-ed to rebut the critics of Senator Negron's plan. She writes, "South Florida is finally united in backing the concept that we have to send clean water south, and we need to buy land for storage and treatment south of the Lake to make that possible." But she fears that North Florida legislators, heavily lobbied by the sugar industry landowners, will be tempted to "throw South Florida overboard." She points out that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers went on record at the Everglades Coalition conference in January saying that buying land for a reservoir and sending the water south is indeed part of CERP, and that CERP won't work without it.

Florida Governor Rick Scott is proposing spending more than $300 million on land buying, Everglades restoration, construction of reservoirs and programs to clean up the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers:
- $30.2 million to the South Florida Water Management District to buy land for Everglades restoration projects.
- $20.5 million to the Florida Forever program for buying land.
- $15.2 million to buy land holding unique ecosystems or endangered species, including $5 million for buying land in the Florida Keys near Islamorada and Marathon.
- $193 million for projects in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project, a massive federal-state series of projects that will aid in restoring some of the original southward flow of the Everglades.
- $20 million for reservoir construction.
- $40 million for a matching-grant program that would switch people living near the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee river systems from septic tanks to sewer systems.
- $20 million to dredge muck from the bottom of the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee river systems.

However, Eric Eikenberg of the Everglades Foundation likens the governor's plan's lack of funding for water storage south of the lake to a "Band-Aid" on a "gaping wound."

Florida Requests Termination of Water Quality Consent Decree

An attorney for the South Florida Water Management District asked the U.S. Department of Justice last month to terminate a "consent decree" that ended a decades-long legal battle over polluted water flowing off sugarcane fields and into Everglades National Park and the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. The District argues that with construction on schedule for Everglades restoration projects and water in 90% of the Everglades now meeting targets, a claim critics call misleading, the order is no longer needed. But with restoration efforts far from complete, plaintiffs in the lawsuit and environmentalists worry that the state, which has changed deadlines, failed to clean up pollution in Lake Okeechobee and reneged on a promise to replace a reservoir needed to provide water to South Florida, would then be able to declare victory before goals are met.

Deep Injection Well Proposals Resurface

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last month provided an update on alternatives for solving the Lake Okeechobee water crisis that resulted in last year's toxic algae blooms in the St. Lucie River and Estuary. The latest plans call for building a series of reservoirs around the lake, constructing wells that can store and recover water and, more controversially, constructing injection wells that dump water into the boulder zone beneath the Floridan aquifer. While such permanent storage of water might solve the short-term problem of having to flush water to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers to protect the lake's aging dike, it does nothing to help the Everglades, left parched after decades of flood control and now threatened by sea level rise. The lake originally provided much of the freshwater flowing south into the Everglades. Injection wells are used around the state by utilities that pump wastewater from sewer treatment plants. However, at least four studies dating back to 2001 found problems with water migrating upward from injection wells in South Florida. The National Academies of Science has also said that water recovered from these wells could be chemically altered and pose a risk to wildlife.

Southern Everglades Receding

At the bottom of the Everglades along the mouth of the Shark River, a towering mangrove forest stands at the edge of Florida Bay, where salt water meets the freshwater of the Everglades marshes. All is not well here, because the mangroves ringing the coast are moving inland, while the rich mucky peat that is the soil of the Everglades, formed over thousands of years, is collapsing. And periphyton, the spongy brown mats of native algae that form the foundation of the food chain, is shrinking. Scientists now fear the system may be at a tipping point, where change is happening faster than expected and spinning into a self-perpetuating cycle of decline. Two forces are likely driving the changes: decades of flood control that altered the historic freshwater flow into the Everglades and rising sea levels.

Can the Everglades be Saved at this Pace?

For a good overview of the progress that has been made and the progress that is yet to be made in restoring the Everglades, and some of the reasons for the delays, check out this in-depth article from Miami Herald journalist Jenny Staletovich...

New Hope for Saving Trees of the Everglades from Laurel Wilt

University of Florida researchers have a new weapon in the fight against laurel wilt, a fungus spread by a beetle that has been withering the state's avocado industry and wiping out trees across the Everglades. Using red bay trees, a close cousin of the avocado tree, researchers discovered the trees emit a chemical to repel the beetles once infected. When combined with another well-known pheromone used to treat mountain pine beetle, another forest pest, the repellent successfully drove away beetles about 90% of the time.

Dogs Help Combat Pythons in Upper Keys

Two Labrador retrievers, previously trained as bomb-detection dogs, sniffed out five pythons on North Key Largo during their four-month assignment to the Upper Keys. Only finding five, compared to the numbers found by the dogs in the Everglades, suggests python numbers on North Key Largo are fewer. Efforts to bring the dogs to the Keys started last August when what appeared to be python hatchlings were found on North Key Largo, home to Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge. With the dogs, Refuge staff hope to protect species such as the endangered Key Largo woodrat from the pythons.

Florida Panther Numbers on the Rise

The estimated number of Florida panthers has been revised upward for the second time in three years. The maximum estimated number rose from 180 to 230, while the minimum number rose from 100 to 120. Both estimates exclude kittens and count only panthers south of the Caloosahatchee River. Florida panthers, which once roamed across the southeastern United States, have been reduced to a remote swath of the state running from southern Everglades National Park to the cattle ranches, forests and farms west of Lake Okeechobee. Although the higher numbers are good news for the species, the numbers are still considered far too low to eliminate the danger of extinction, leaving the panther population at risk from any number of threats, such as collisions with cars and habitat loss.

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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. All members receive our biannual newsletter Gator Tales and a 10% discount in our gift shop. You can sign up online at:

Help Us Grow!

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


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Elinor Williams
Friends of Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

"There are no other Everglades in the world." ~Marjory Stoneman Douglas
Celebrate with us, The Friends of Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, 1982-2017



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