Last Month's Newsletter


Lee Road Boat Ramps Closed to Bank Fishing Due to Visitors Feeding Alligators

Effective September 27 through Friday, November 2

The bank 100 yards in either direction of the Lee Road Boat Ramp is now closed to bank fishing until Friday, November 2. The bank fishing closure includes the fishing platform, boat dock, and boat ramp areas. The Lee Road Boat Ramp area will remain open to non-fishing uses such as hiking, biking, canoeing, photography, wildlife observation, and boat launching. The A, B, and C Impoundments will remain open to bank fishing during this time.

The closure is due to a number of nuisance and aggressive alligators that have recently been observed at the boat ramp. Most alligators are, by nature, nervous of human activity and will usually avoid close contact with people. However, if alligators are fed by people, some will lose their natural fear and will begin to approach when they see people. These alligators can be very dangerous and are termed "nuisance gators." Anglers feeding alligators while they are fishing have created this threat to the safety of our visitors. Unfortunately, several nuisance alligators have had to be removed and euthanized within the last month. The maximum penalty for feeding alligators could be up to one year in jail and a $100,000 fine, as well as the loss of the alligator.

Please call 1-800-307-5789 to report instances of feeding alligators and other wildlife violations while at the Refuge.

SCHEDULED PROGRAMS        October 2018

Tram Tours of the Marsh

Every Sunday, Wednesday & Thursday, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. except Sunday, October 28
Every Sunday, Monday & Wednesday, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. except Monday, October 15 & Sunday, October 28
Tuesday, October 23, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.
Thursday, October 25, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
Friday, October 12 & 26, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.
Saturday, October 27, 10:00 - 11:30 a.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.

Sunset Everglades Tour

Tuesday, October 9, 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, October 23, 6:00 p.m.

Experience the unique sights and sounds of the Everglades at night! Meet at the Visitor Center for a guided twilight tour of the Refuge. Try to arrive a little before the tour starts as a courtesy to others. Wear long-sleeved shirt, long pants, good walking shoes with closed toes and heels, and bring a jacket, water, a good flashlight and bug spray. You might also like to bring a hat. Walk is approximately 1 mile.

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

Gullah Geechee Corridor & East Coast Greenways

Saturday, October 27, 3:00 p.m.

This new documentary film highlights 3 cycling trails: Rails to Trails, SEA Island Loop and the East Coast Greenways. These trails run through the rural community of Armstrong, which was settled by West Africans, known as Gullah Geechee, after the Civil War. The Gullah Geechee people are immigrants to the New World of West African descent and have kept their agricultural expertise and rich cultural heritage alive through the years. The Gullah Geechee corridor was established by Congress in 2006. The film will be introduced by Derek Boyd Hankerson, Film Writer, Producer and Gullah Geechee descendent.

Early Morning Bird Watch and Walk - Fly Out

Wednesday, October 31, 6:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Join volunteer naturalist Rick Schofield of Audubon 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 email or call 508-296-0238.

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.

Photography Tour

Every Sunday, 7:30 a.m.

Explore, learn, enjoy, and record the natural resources and biological treasures of the Refuge with award-winning photographers Dr. Peter Lekos and Lora Lekos. Reservations are required because space is limited to give personal attention to each photographer. Meet at the Marsh Trail parking lot near the gazebo.

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

English/Portuguese Nature Walk

Every Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

Join bilingual (English/Portuguese) volunteer naturalist to stroll around the Visitor Center, Cypress Swamp Boardwalk, and the Marsh Trail. He will be answering questions and discussing the plants and wildlife that live here at the Refuge. Meet at the Visitor Center.

Guided Canoe Tours

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 $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, October 20, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 24, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 22, 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.)


Roving Wildlife Photographer

Every Friday & 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 lotion, binoculars, and your camera. The tour can be from 3-5 miles. Meet at the Visitor Center.

Roving Naturalist on Cypress Swamp Boardwalk

Tuesday, October 9 & 23, 12:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

A volunteer naturalist will be strolling around the Cypress Swamp Boardwalk, answering questions and discussing flora and fauna of the swamp.

*** 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

9th Annual Juried Art Contest - Loxahatchee Visions

Entries accepted: Sunday, October 28 - Saturday, November 3
Reception and Award Presentation: Sunday, November 11, 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 - Youth/Student (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 Youth. 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:

Fee-Free Day - First Sunday of National Wildlife Refuge Week, October 14

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is waiving admission fees at all National Wildlife Refuges on Sunday, October 14, in celebration of National Wildlife Refuge Week, October 14 - 20.

The Jim Moran Foundation helps provide Palm Beach County students with educational field trips to Refuge

The Friends have been awarded a one-year grant from The Jim Moran Foundation for "Wheels to Environmental Learning Lessons," a partnership with the School District of Palm Beach County. Through this collaboration, the Friends have been providing funding for bus transportation to ensure that K-12 Palm Beach County public school children can visit the Refuge to participate in hands-on, environmental learning activities. The Jim Moran Foundation's $10,000 grant to the Friends will be used to transport even more children to the Refuge.

Since 2016, the Friends have provided or received through donations a total of $27,000 in supplemental funding to the Palm Beach County School District to pay for bus transportation to the Refuge.

Founded in 2000 by automotive pioneer Jim Moran to ensure his philanthropy would endure beyond his lifetime, the mission of The Jim Moran Foundation is to improve the quality of life for the youth and families of Florida through the support of innovative programs and opportunities that meet the ever-changing needs of the community.

Friends Members provide additional funding to bring students to Refuge

The Friends have made the first of a two-part donation to the School District of Palm Beach County thanks to the generosity of our members, in addition to the funding provided by The Jim Moran Foundation. The $7,000 donation to the school district, which includes half of the grant funds from The Jim Moran Foundation, is to be used for bus transportation for field trips to the Refuge during the fall semester. The remainder of the grant funds will be awarded to the school district for use in the spring semester.

According to Tom Salinsky, Science Program Planner for the Palm Beach County School District, "For many of these schoolchildren it is their first opportunity to experience the Everglades first hand. Their Refuge visit enhances their scientific knowledge, targets some of our most important science standards, and increases the likelihood that these students will have a greater understanding and appreciation for the importance of the Everglades and the beautiful county in which we live. This has been an excellent initiative helping to pass on the legacy of conservation and environmental stewardship to the next generation."

"These experiences build life-long connections to nature and help students better understand the direct link between the health of the Everglades ecosystem and our quality of life in South Florida," said Deputy Refuge Manager Steve Henry.

Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group's Thanks and Giving Celebration

Saturday, November 10, 6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Location: Community Foundation, 700 S. Dixie Highway #200, West Palm Beach

Join the Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group for their annual fundraising party and silent auction, the Thanks and Giving Celebration. Tickets are $35 through November 5; $45 after November 5 and at the door. Enjoy musical entertainment by Jamie Rasso, along with hot and cold hors d'oeuvres, soft drinks, beer and wine, and meet Indian Riverkeeper Marty Bauam, 2018 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.

Friends Luncheon

Saturday, December 8, 12:00 noon
Location: Iberia Grill, 3745 S Military Trail, Greenacres

All are invited to join the Friends for a delicious buffet-style luncheon with open bar and silent auction at the Iberia Grill on Saturday, December 8. Buffet is $30 for Friends members and $35 for non-members.

Refuge Manager Rolf Olson will share untold tales of Fire, Biology, Law Enforcement, Maintenance, and Visitor Services, with stories of the staff from when they were young. He can also answer any questions you have about the Refuge and about the new Visitor Services Plan.

Please RSVP to Make check payable to "Friends of Loxahatchee Refuge" and mail to P.O. Box 6777, Delray Beach, FL 33445 or pay online (select Operating Fund):
And if you have any items you would be willing to donate for a silent auction, please let us know!

Dynamic Composition 1-Day Photography Workshop

Saturday, January 12, 9:00 - 12:00 noon, Visitor Center Theater

Back by popular demand, 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 one of your photos for an optional critique to Lance by December 14. 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

34th Annual Everglades Coalition Conference

Thursday, January 10 - Sunday, January 13
Location: Bakers Cay Hilton Resort, Key Largo

For more information and to make reservations:

Public Comment Invited on New Visitor Services Plan & Expanded Recreational Opportunities

New Deadline: November 8

The public is invited to submit comments on the new Visitor Services Plan that was released on September 10. The Plan incorporates public comments that were received at the public meetings that were held in May and during the subsequent comment period. The Plan in its 362-page entirety can be viewed here:

Here is a summary of the Plan that Refuge Manager Rolf Olson presented at the public meeting held on September 20:

Check the Refuge website for more information on how the Plan came about:

Comments can be mailed to A.R.M. Loxahatchee VSP, P.O. Box 924, Freeport, FL 32439, or sent by email by November 8 to

Here's an article about the new Plan that appeared in the Sun-Sentinel on September 20, the day of the public meeting:

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,

New Bug Enlisted in Fight Against Invasive Fern

Old World climbing fern, a native of tropical and subtropical areas of Australia, Asia and Africa, has been smothering our tree islands, cypress stands, sawgrass marshes, wet prairies and mangrove communities for years, threatening native life across South Florida but especially here at the Refuge. The Refuge contains tens of thousands of tree islands, vital habitats for endangered birds, deer, bobcats, raccoons and other small mammals. Combating this invasive fern on remote tree islands with herbicides and machetes is dangerous and dirty work. That's why the U.S. Department of Agriculture's research lab in Davie is raising an army of insects to eat the fern, also known as lygodium, with the help of a contract renewed last month by the South Florida Water Management District.

It's not the first time USDA entomologists have been consulted. For about 10 years, the brown lygodium moth and the lygodium mite have been released in the Refuge in an effort to control the fern. In the caterpillar stage, the moth eats lygodium leaves. In large numbers, it can defoliate entire plants. But a 2015 survey of land managers using both insects to fight lygodium found the bugs had limited effectiveness in controlling the fern, which grows vertically, climbing trees and crawling over shrubs to form a thick blanket that smothers native flora.

The insects currently under consideration include a moth similar to the one already released, a sawfly, which is in the same family as wasps, and a stem borer that digs into the shoots of the lygodium to feed.

Other significant contributors in funding the fight against lygodium in the Refuge over the years include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has given the Water Management District $2.5 million this year, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which has provided $1 million this year. The insect program to control lygodium is part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.

Lone SFWMD Board Member Sounds Alarm on Loss of Funds for Flood Control

In a near unanimous vote last month, the South Florida Water Management District's governing board approved a budget that includes a reduction in the tax rate for the 16 counties it represents. The lone dissenter in the 7-1 vote was Palm Beach County representative James Moran. Moran, a self-described "conservative tea party guy," and advocate for smaller government said he couldn't approve a budget that didn't at least keep the tax rate the same as the previous year.

"We need more money, we're broke," Moran said. "When I first came on the board we had $400 to $500 million in what I call unrestricted reserves, but we've spent that down for restoration projects and other projects to what is now below $60 million and we are still only collecting the same amount we were eight to nine years ago."

The district has been in cost-cutting mode since 2011, which included losing hundreds of employees to layoffs and buyouts. Keeping the tax rate the same this year would raise an additional $15 million that Moran said could be used for repairs and maintenance to the district's flood control system, invasive plant control and upgrades to the district's fleet of vehicles, including construction equipment. Moran has been the lone voice on the board with concerns regarding the upkeep of district flood control systems.

Loxahatchee River Restoration Awaits Federal Approval

Three decades ago, parts of the meandering Loxahatchee River earned federal designation as a wild and scenic river - one of only two in Florida. But since then it has suffered from development - roads cut off natural water flows and canals diverted water to keep communities that were built on wetlands from flooding. The permanent opening of the Jupiter Inlet in 1947, and dredging of oyster bars, sent a twice-daily deluge of seawater flooding up the river.

The northwest fork of the Loxahatchee River flows north from Riverbend Park in Jupiter through Jonathan Dickinson State Park before a U-shaped hook turns the river southeast to the Jupiter Inlet. During the dry season, the northwest fork doesn't get enough freshwater moving downstream to keep the saltwater at bay. Mangroves have moved in, replacing the cypress trees and ferns and swamp-loving pond apple trees.

An effort to restore the Loxahatchee River has been ongoing for at least 15 years and is part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. Further habitat repair could come from a long-delayed plan to reconnect northern creeks and provide fresh water to the river from the south. The plan proposes using the C-18 Canal West to move water from a planned above-ground reservoir on the Mecca Farms site to the C-18 Canal and into the river. The proposal needs a go-ahead from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this fall before it can be brought up for public comment.

Deep Injection Test Wells to be Built to Hold Lake Okeechobee Overflow

The South Florida Water Management District is fast-tracking plans to dispose of Lake Okeechobee overflow by pumping it 3,000 feet underground, agreeing last month to build two deep injection wells in a test of the project's viability. The wells are being billed as a quick solution to reduce the amount of water that must be discharged from the lake to relieve stress on the Herbert Hoover Dike. As it is now, when too much rain falls, water is released into the St. Lucie Estuary and Caloosahatchee River. The freshwater dilutes the brackish waterways, killing oyster beds and sea grasses, while encouraging the growth of toxic blue-green algae. But environmental groups oppose forcing billions of gallons of polluted lake water into the boulder zone beneath South Florida's drinking water supply. They argue that it's a waste of freshwater needed during the dry season, and diverts attention from the overall goal of Everglades restoration.

In May, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which controls discharges from Lake Okeechobee, removed the consideration of deep injection wells from the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project, saying further analysis was needed. In June, the District decided to pursue the wells alone with the idea that the they would only be used when there is excess water in the lake.

Land and Water Conservation Fund Expires - Take Action!

The Land and Water Conservation Fund expired on September 30. Since 1966, the Fund has invested earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing to help protect important places in every state in the country. More than $1 billion has gone to protect countless unique places including Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, Biscayne National Park, Osceola National Forest and St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

Urge your Congressional representatives to save the Land and Water Conservation Fund! Numerous organizations have set up Action Pages you can use to contact your representatives. Here's one from The Nature Conservancy:;jsessionid=00000000.app245a?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=262

Or you can contact them directly:
To contact your Representative, go to, type your zip code at the top of the screen and click "LOOK UP", then click on your Representative's name;
To contact your Senators go to, select your state under "Find Your Senators" at the top of the screen, then click on your Senator's name.

Last Year's Hurricane Irma Contributed to This Year's Toxic Algae

Scientists report that Hurricane Irma's torrential rains flooded Lake Okeechobee with more than 450 metric tons of phosphorus in a single month, contributing to a fertilizer overload that nourished this summer's toxic algae bloom and surpassed the state's phosphorus goal for water quality 10 times over. Between May 2017 and this past April, 1,046 metric tons of phosphorus entered Lake Okeechobee, carried largely in runoff from farms, dairies, cattle ranches and communities north of the lake. In September 2017, the upper and lower Kissimmee basins that flow into Lake Okeechobee each received more than 12 inches of rain, nearly double the normal amount. Lake Okeechobee itself got 10.94 inches, 5.28 inches more than the typical September. A wet October followed with the 16-county region averaging 3.44 inches more rainfall than normal.

Florida's Waters Continue to Suffer From Toxic Red Tide and Blue-Green Algae

Red tide and blue-green algae continue to plague Florida's waters, killing aquatic life and making residents sick. This article takes an in-depth look at the extent of the environmental degradation across the state and how we got there.

Red Tide Comes to Florida's East Coast

For awhile the toxic red tide on Florida's southwest coast was sending their tourists here to this side of the peninsula. But now it's here, too, causing beach closures in most of Palm Beach County, with beachgoers reporting respiratory problems from St. Lucie County in the north to Miami-Dade County in the south. It's unusual for the East Coast to get a red tide bloom. It's possible the red tide got caught in the loop current that flows through the Florida Straits and into the Gulf Stream.

Verdict in Rock Mine Lawsuit Chills Free Speech in Florida

SLAPP suits are Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation, a tactic prohibited in some states, for silencing opposition to projects such as Lake Point's rock mine; the lawsuit Lake Point brought against former Martin County Commissioner Maggy Hurchalla has all the attributes of a SLAPP suit. So much so that the Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach where the case is pending agreed to accept three friend-of-the-court briefs representing 12 environmental and civil liberties organizations and four individuals. They include Florida's most prominent environmentalist, Nathaniel Reed, speaking from the grave. He filed his motion before his accidental death this summer. The central issue is whether the lawsuit and the $4.4 million judgment against Hurchalla were meant to serve as a frightful warning to deter citizens from exercising their First Amendment rights to speak out and petition the government about what they think is wrong.

Florida's Senators Propose Renaming Hobe Sound Refuge After Nathaniel Reed

Florida Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio filed a bill to rename the Martin County wildlife refuge the Nathaniel P. Reed Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge. Reed was instrumental in drafting the Endangered Species Act and helping to save Big Cypress Swamp, just a few highlights of a lifetime fighting for conservation. The renaming of this particular refuge would be appropriate because, as the Senators pointed out, it owes its existence to Reed's family. Nathaniel's father, Joseph Reed, established the Reed Wilderness Seashore Sanctuary, a National Natural Landmark on the northern portion of Jupiter Island, in 1967. Two years later, the wildlife refuge was established.

Florida Bans Private Ownership of More Exotic Species

More than a dozen species will be banned from private ownership under a plan agreed last week by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Reptiles to be banned include the brown tree snake and three species of anacondas. Mammals to be banned include the meerkat, mongoose, raccoon dog, dhole (a dog-like mammal from Asia), brushtail possum and flying fox. And birds to be banned include the red-whiskered bulbul (an Asian bird that already has a foothold in Florida), dioch (a sparrow-like bird from Africa), Java sparrow and pink starling. Other than habitat loss, exotic pets that were released or escaped are now considered the most significant threat to Florida's diversity of wildlife.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is looking for help in finding and removing Northern African pythons, also known as African rock or rock pythons, which have been spotted in a portion of western Miami-Dade County near Everglades National Park.

Sightings of a large Burmese python have been reported in a Boynton Beach neighborhood. If confirmed, this would be the farthest east a python has been reported in Palm Beach County. According to barefoot python hunter Dusty "Wildman" Crum, the snakes use the canals to travel and are looking for food because it has become scarce in the Everglades. After the introduction of Burmese pythons, small native wildlife has decreased by more than 90 percent in Everglades National Park, according to the South Florida Water Management District.

Gator Babies Hatching on Video

These alligator babies were discovered as they were hatching in Stormwater Treatment Area 3/4 in western Palm Beach County by a South Florida Water Management District field crew:

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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, 1982-2018



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