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SCHEDULED PROGRAMS        August 2019

Everglades Tram Tours

Every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.
Every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. except Wednesday, August 7

Grab your camera and binoculars and enjoy the Refuge on an approximately 1.5 to 2-hour tram tour. The open-air tram can seat 5 passengers and 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.

Roving Wildlife Photographer

Every Saturday, 9:30 a.m.

Take a guided walking tour of some of our most beautiful spots in the Refuge. View and photograph wildlife in its natural settings with our volunteer roving photographer, Ira Rappaport. Ira will show you areas where some of the most recent sightings of wildlife have been reported and other locations that might make for great photo opportunities. Bring water, comfortable closed-toe shoes or sneakers, a hat to block the sun, sun screen, binoculars, and your camera. The tour can be from 3-5 miles. Meet at the Visitor Center.

Roving Naturalist

Tuesday, August 13 & 27, 12:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

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

Guided Canoe Tours

Every Saturday, 7:30 a.m. except August 24

Meet at the Lee Road Boat Ramp to enjoy a beautiful canoe tour guided by a volunteer naturalist through a portion of the Refuge interior. Explore the northernmost end of the Everglades on this approximately 1.5 to 2-hour tour. You may rent a canoe or kayak for $35 from Loxahatchee Canoeing or bring your own. (One canoe seats 2 to 3 people.)

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

Enjoy this 3-minute video made on the canoe trail:

Moonlight Guided Canoe Tours

Saturday, August 17, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 14, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 12, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 9, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 14, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Meet at the Lee Road Boat Ramp to enjoy a guided moonlight canoe tour through a portion of the Refuge interior. Wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants and bring a flashlight and bug spray. Canoe rental from Loxahatchee Canoeing is $35; you may not bring your own. (One canoe seats 2 to 3 people.)


*** Programs subject to change, for more information on any of the activities and programs, please call the Visitor Center at (561) 734-8303.

Events are listed on the Friends website at

International Coastal Clean-Up & National Public Lands Day - Save the Date!

Saturday, September 28, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon

Spend the morning outdoors, celebrate volunteerism on public lands, and help keep our Refuge beautiful! Come and join this national and international movement to celebrate our public lands and ensure they stay pristine for generations to come. Activities planned for the day are tree planting, family fishing day, trash cleanup, and speakers. Stay tuned for more details.

Volunteers needed! Please wear closed-toed shoes or boots, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen and bug spray, and bring a refillable water bottle. Long sleeves and long pants are recommended. Bring your own gloves or you can borrow ours. Students can receive Community Service hours. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old or accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Fee-Free Day - National Public Lands Day, September 28

The Department of the Interior is waiving admission fees at all National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges and all other federal fee areas for National Public Lands Day, September 28.

10th Annual Juried Art Contest - Loxahatchee Visions

Entries accepted: Saturday, October 26 - Sunday, November 2
Reception and Award Presentation: Sunday, November 10, 1:00 p.m.

The contest is open to all artists. Each artist may submit one or two works of art, inspired by "Loxahatchee Visions." Any media or mixed media may be used, with the exception of photography. (Save your photographs for next year's photo contest!) Each entry must be framed and ready for hanging. Wrapped canvas edges are fine. Size limit is 36" on each side, including frame.

Prizes will be awarded in 2 categories - Novice (through high school) and Adult (age 18 and older).
First prize - $250; Second prize - $150; Third prize - $100.

The entry fee is $10 for Friends members, volunteers and Refuge staff, and $25 for non-members. The fee is waived for Novices. Bring your artwork along with the entry form and entry fee in an envelope labeled "Friends Art Contest" to the Visitor Center.

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

View 2019 Photo Contest Entries Online

All of the fabulous entries in the Friends' 2019 Photo Contest can now be viewed at:

Changes Planned to Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is making changes to the 11-year-old federal guidelines that regulate water levels in Lake Okeechobee without the usual public comment due to the "immediate" need, according to an internal Corps letter that was circulated among Palm Beach County commissioners last month. The Corps said that lowering the lake this year beyond recommendations was necessary to help critical aquatic vegetation regrow after years of too-high water levels, and to reduce summer discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries that promote the growth of toxic blue-green algae. U.S. Sugar promptly sued, saying the Corps' "rogue" decisions to lower Lake Okeechobee puts South Florida's ecosystem and water supply for 6 million people at risk.

Skimmer Attempts to Remove Blue-Green Algae; Salt Water Shown to Release Toxins

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tested out a floating skimmer on Lake Okeechobee last month, hooking it up with hoses to gurgling machines and train car-size filters on land, to see if it could be used to remove toxic blue-green algae. The skimmer, similar to what's used to clean up oil spills, sucks up the water, which is supposed to be scrubbed free of algae and the nutrients it feeds on and then pumped back into the lake. The spongy chunks of algae would be separated and turned to bio fuel by breaking down the algae cell structure to extract oil. Oil is stored as a natural energy in the algae. If successful, the technology could be used in Lake Okeechobee, Lake Erie and other affected lakes around the country.

Lake Washington, just west of Melbourne, is Florida's latest victim of the blue-green algae that has killed off oysters, seagrass, fish and marine life.

Mississippi closed all 21 of its beaches due to a blue-green algae bloom in the Gulf of Mexico last month. Here's everything you wanted to know about blue-green algae, including the short-term and potential long-term threats it poses to human health.

A U.S. Geological Survey laboratory study of two potentially toxic types of freshwater cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, found that exposure to salty water can damage the cyanobacteria cells' walls, causing them to release their toxins into the water. USGS started the investigation after state water quality samples taken in 2016 showed that cyanobacteria from Lake Okeechobee were probably being transported downstream to the brackish St. Lucie Estuary and the Indian River Lagoon.

And here's some background on how the Everglades, Florida Bay, the Lake, and the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers got into the state they're in...

SFWMD Determines Proposed Wells Require More Study

The governing board of the South Florida Water Management District is once again considering the feasibility of using Aquifer Storage and Recovery wells to pump water 1,000 feet underground and store it until it is needed, but this time they seem to be listening to environmental concerns, deciding that more study is needed. The wells would be part of a project intended to hold and clean fertilizer-laden water coming into Lake Okeechobee from the north, in order to limit the amount of polluted water that flows into the lake and to reduce the need for harmful discharges into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers and estuaries.

Sargassum Seaweed is Here to Stay

Sargassum seaweed has been choking beaches from the Florida Keys to the Treasure Coast in recent years. It started in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico in 2011 and year after year has gotten more widespread. While generally not harmful to people, it smells like rotten eggs when it decays and can cause problems for people with asthma or other respiratory issues. Some beaches are so thick with it that it has blocked swimmers from entering the water. In the Keys it has been decaying en masse in canals, causing fish kills. Sargassum can also be a benefit to the environment, for example, it provides shelter for hatchling sea turtles, who feed on the tiny crabs and other organisms that live in it.

The seaweed we are seeing on the beaches is just the tip of the world's largest sargassum forest, that Florida researchers have found stretches from the west coast of Africa to the Gulf of Mexico. University of South Florida and Florida Atlantic University scientists found the seaweed's growth spurts occur in years when runoff from the Amazon River includes large amounts of fertilizer and when an upwelling in the eastern Atlantic brings cooler water and nutrients from the bottom of the ocean to the surface. The extent of the seaweed was measured using 19 years of NASA satellite images and detailed in a study published this month in Science magazine.

While it has been speculated that phosphorus in Saharan dust has been playing a major role in fertilizing the Amazon basin, a University of Miami study released last week found that smoke from African fires burning wild or to clear land has more usable phosphorus in it than Saharan dust. The phosphorus in the dust is not easily dissolved, whereas it is highly soluble in the smoke. That phosporus, combined with nitrogen from runoff coming out of rivers like the Amazon and the Mississippi, are the likely culprits in the seaweed's explosive growth.

Legislature Fails to Address Water Quality and Moves to Silence Concerned Citizens

Toxic blooms of blue-green algae, red tide, and brown tide pose serious public health problems from the Indian River down to Florida Bay, up the west coast and across Florida's lakes and waterways. All are caused or exacerbated by the increased inflow of nutrients from fertilizers, sewage and manure into our waterways. A number of bills that would have addressed these water quality problems failed to pass. And yet, at the end of the session, the Legislature passed and the governor signed a bill that effectively prevents Florida residents from challenging local government on the kind of bad land use decisions that have cumulatively destroyed so much of Florida's environment. So says former Martin County commissioner Maggy Hurchalla and numerous editorial boards around the state...

Study Blames Everglades Nitrogen for Bleaching Coral Reefs and Killing Florida Bay's Seagrass

A study, published in the journal Marine Biology by Florida Atlantic University marine biologist Brian LaPointe, concludes that water from the southern Everglades is harming reefs near Looe Key. LaPointe said water sampling he conducted over 30 years showed that big pulses of water from the Everglades' Shark River preceded the Keys' mass bleaching events over the years. He says the river is polluted with nitrogen from farms and urban development, which can harm corals. He also blames those high levels of nitrogen for triggering die-offs of seagrass in Florida Bay after droughts such as those in 1987 and 2015.

Other scientists disagree, saying that more widespread sampling shows nitrogen in the Bay only spiking during natural events like tropical storms, cold freezes and hurricanes, and that LaPointe's sampling is from a single reef and from the Everglades near Tamiami Trail, not from where Shark River actually flows into Florida Bay. Most scientists attribute the seagrass die-offs to the droughts that made the Bay become too salty, and claim that the nutrient-starved Everglades remove most of the nitrogen from the water that flows into the Bay.

Florida Bay's seagrass meadows stabilize the muddy bottom and help maintain the clear water that coral reefs need to thrive. They also provide food and habitat for the marine life that lives on reefs. Part of the complexity is understanding the dynamic between nitrogen and phosphorus, the two chemicals at play in the ecosystem. Seagrass thrives on a ratio of high nitrogen and low phosphorus. Reefs, which are disappearing at an alarming rate and now in the midst of an unprecedented disease outbreak, are the opposite.

For more on how dependent the fish and wildlife of Florida Bay are on clean freshwater from the Everglades and on the hopes that are now pinned on the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir, here's an in-depth story from Hatch Magazine...

As Seas Rise, Roseate Spoonbills Move North and Inland

Changes in habitat and climate are threatening birds all across the country, but the Roseate Spoonbill is the rare story of successful adaptation. Spoonbills were nearly wiped out in the U.S. by the feathered hat craze of the late 1800s. In Florida, the birds have slowly worked their way back from about a dozen nests to an estimated 4,000 Spoonbill pairs today.

As the deterioration of the Everglades cut off the flow of clean water to Florida Bay decades ago, the first Spoonbills started moving north to new territory along Florida's coasts. Then when the rising ocean levels altered the depths they needed for foraging, many of them moved from their coastal nesting areas and set up rookeries inland, exchanging their saltwater habitat for freshwater.

Now Spoonbills can be found as far north as Georgia and South Carolina. But as they move north and inland, they are abandoning their historic breeding grounds in Florida Bay and the coastal Everglades. Still, Florida Audubon's research director Jerry Lorenz holds out hope that the restoration of the Everglades could supply enough clean water one day to restore Florida Bay as a primary breeding ground.

As Seas Rise, Crocodiles Find High Ground at Turkey Point Nuclear Plant

Turkey Point's man-made canals serve as home to several hundred crocodiles, where a team of specialists working for FPL monitors and protects them from predators and climate change.

Burmese Pythons Not the Only Threat to Everglades Wildlife

Burmese pythons have established breeding populations at least as far south as Key Largo and as far north as our Refuge in western Palm Beach County. Mammals make up most of their diet, and they have taken a huge toll on South Florida's rabbits, raccoons, opossums and other animals. Although the state has now banned ownership of Burmese pythons and several other large constricting snakes, it's still legal to buy dozens of other non-native snakes, lizards and other animals at reptile shows, stores and over the internet for live delivery by express mail. Facing criticism that other species could escape and become established in the wild, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission countered that they have been proactive in banning ownership of several non-native birds, mammals and reptiles, including three species of anaconda, before they had a chance to become established in the wild. And they are looking at the possibility of banning others, such as the Argentine tegu. Although the tegu has become established in Florida, the state's eradication efforts began earlier than with the python, so there may be more hope of containing it.

Hunters have killed a record number of Burmese pythons in the Everglades, with about 1,500 pythons caught last year, nearly triple the number in 2016, reflecting a decision by state agencies to start paying hunters. A female Burmese python that stretched more than 16 feet long was caught in the Everglades of western Broward County last month, and her nest of up to 50 eggs was destroyed.

Everglades Visitors Discover Lubber Grasshoppers

If you can remember the first time you saw a lubber grasshopper, you might have been as freaked out as these French visitors to the Everglades...

Thrips Released to Combat Invasive Brazilian Peppertree

Several local and federal agencies took another step in protecting the Everglades last month by releasing an insect, known as a thrip, that had been reared to combat the invasive Brazilian peppertree. First introduced to Florida in the 1800s as an ornamental tree, the Brazilian peppertree is one of the most aggressive, non-native plants in Florida, impacting more than 700,000 acres statewide, including portions of the Everglades. The trees create a dense canopy that crowds out native plants and creates poor habitat for native wildlife.

Rare Ghost Orchid Found to Have More Than One Pollinator

Photographers and biologists working at Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and at Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge have discovered moth species other than the giant sphinx moth are able to pollinate the rare Ghost Orchid...

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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!


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

"There are no other Everglades in the world." ~Marjory Stoneman Douglas
Celebrate with us, The Friends of Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, 1982-2019



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