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SCHEDULED PROGRAMS        Late August 2018

Tram Tours of the Marsh

Every Sunday, Wednesday & Thursday, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. & 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. except Thursday, August 16
Every Monday, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. except August 13
Thursday, August 16, 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.

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, August 25, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 22, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
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

Fridays and Saturdays, 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, August 14 & 28, 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 - Volunteers Needed!

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:

Would you or someone you know would like to help organize this contest? Please contact us at!

International Coastal Clean-Up & National Public Lands Day - Volunteers Needed!

Saturday, September 22, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon

Spend the morning outdoors, celebrate volunteerism on public lands, and help keep our Refuge beautiful! Volunteers are needed to help collect and remove trash, litter, and debris from Refuge roads, trails, and other public areas. Litter is not only unsightly, but also a hazard for wildlife!

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. Meet in the Marsh Trail parking lot.

For more information or to register, contact Cathy Patterson at or 561-301-5056.

Fee-Free Day - National Public Lands Day, September 22

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 22.

Friends Luncheon - Save the Date!

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 at the Iberia Grill on Saturday, December 8. Details to follow. Save the date!

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,

The Everglades: Spirit of the Land - Photo Exhibition by Phoenix

Exhibition: Tuesday - Friday, 10 am - 6 pm and Saturdays 10 am - 4 pm, now thru Friday, September 28
Artist Talk: Saturday, September 15, 3 pm
Location: Bailey Contemporary Arts west gallery, 41 NE 1st St, Pompano Beach
(located inside Blooming Bean Coffee Roasters)

The majesty and the frailty of the Florida Everglades are captured in this exhibit featuring 20 photos by award-winning nature photographer and Friends member Phoenix Marks. As gallery curator Juliana Forero explains, "Phoenix has a great understanding of how light and timing work in photography. It's evident that for some of the photographs exhibited, she waited for the 'decisive moment'... working the composition in her brain and waiting for the 'it' that would make the photo worth the shot."

View some of her photography at

Butterfly Counts on the Refuge

The North American Butterfly Association Atala Chapter conducted its annual butterfly count at the Refuge on June 16. Here are the totals, for this year as well as for the past 22 years:

Nathaniel Reed Remembered

Florida lost one of its original environmental champions last month with the death of Nathaniel Reed following a fishing accident. Throughout his illustrious career he served two U.S. presidents and six Florida governors. As environmental adviser to Governor Claude Kirk he brought an end to the dredging and filling of estuaries for the sake of selling more waterfront lots, and drafted the state's first water quality standards, outlawing discharges that would change the flora or fauna of a receiving body of water. He persuaded Governor Kirk to block the construction of what would have been the world's largest airport, a sprawling complex envisioned with 6-mile-long runways on 39 square miles in the middle of the Everglades, with flights taking off or landing every 30 seconds, linked to Miami by high speed rail. He and the governor convinced President Nixon to stop federal funding for the project, already under construction. They also brought a halt to another project already under construction, the equally controversial Cross-Florida Barge Canal. In the first major defeat of an Army Corps of Engineers project, in 1971, President Richard Nixon signed an executive order suspending further work on the Barge Canal.

As Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior under President Nixon, he helped draft and secure passage of major legislation including the 1972 Clean Water Act, 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act and 1973 Endangered Species Act. He closed dumps at Yellowstone National Park to discourage grizzly bears, helping to increase the park's population, and helped preserve more than 100 million acres of parks and wildlife refuges in Alaska. He publicized the dangers of DDT and imposed a ban on the use of a coyote-killing poison called 10-80 that killed other animals as well.

In 1972, he helped convince President Nixon to declare federal protection for the Big Cypress Swamp and later helped secure $150 million in federal funds to complete its purchase, creating the Big Cypress National Preserve. Tensions ran high over this project, with a local developer putting up posters along the Tamiami Trail saying that "God would reward any man who accidentally shot Joe Browder, Nathaniel Reed, or Bob Graham." In recent writings Nathaniel credited the proposed jetport for making the establishment of the Preserve possible, at a time in our nation's history when environmental issues were national news.

In 1978, Governor Bob Graham appointed Nathaniel to serve on the Governing Board of the South Florida Water Management District, a highly controversial move as the board at that time was dominated by sugar and development interests. While on the Board, he worked closely with the governor on the 1983 "Save Our Everglades" campaign, with the ambitious goal of restoring the Everglades as closely as possible to its pre-drainage state. He also played a key role in the passage of Florida's 1985 Growth Management Act. Governor Bob Martinez appointed him to chair the Commission on the Future of Florida's Environment, which called for bonding to acquire environmentally sensitive lands, leading to the 1990 passage of the most ambitious state land acquisition program in the nation, Preservation 2000. It authorized raising $300 million a year for ten years. Preservation 2000 and its successor, Florida Forever, have preserved millions of acres of Florida's conservation lands.

After stepping down from the Governing Board in 1992, Nathaniel advised Governor Lawton Chiles and helped him secure passage of the 1994 Everglades Forever Act to restore water quality and quantity in the Everglades and Everglades Agricultural Area.

Nathaniel was actively involved in securing the land donations and sales that created the Nature Conservancy's Blowing Rocks Preserve and the Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge, both on Jupiter Island where he grew up. His father Joseph had donated to Florida Audubon the northernmost portion of the island, which is now the island portion of the Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge. Years earlier it was his parents who persuaded the Florida Legislature to turn a shut-down Army base into Jonathan Dickinson State Park.

Nathaniel co-founded 1000 Friends of Florida to advocate for better planning and controlled growth in Florida. He later helped create the Everglades Foundation and the Florida Conservation Coalition. 1000 Friends of Florida reports that he remained an actively involved guiding force as Chairman Emeritus up until the day of his accident.

The Friends of the Refuge remember Nathaniel fondly as a Friends member and an influential voice in protecting the Refuge from a threatened takeover by the state and in raising the visiblity of its need for funding for the treatment of invasive exotics.

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson called for naming the new reservoir planned for south of Lake Okeechobee in Nathaniel's honor. He said it would be a "fitting tribute" to Reed, who worked to help make that project happen.

Upon the wishes of the Reed Family, the Everglades Foundation Board of Directors will establish the Nathaniel P. Reed For Everglades Stewardship Fund. This endowed fund will forever honor Nathaniel's commitment to protecting and advocating for America's Everglades.

Stephen Bass Remembered

Stephen Bass is fondly remembered by the Friends of the Refuge and all who have enjoyed the natural areas of Palm Beach County that he helped preserve. He died of cancer last month at the age of 74. Steve dedicated his life to environmental preservation and education. He taught in the Florida Master Naturalist program and chaired the Palm Beach County Natural Areas Management Advisory Committee, which helped secure more public natural spaces. He worked at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton for 22 years. His wife Valerie set up the Stephen Bass Memorial Account to raise money, with donations going to support the Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management.

As National Parks Visitation Increases, Budget and Workforce Shrinks

During his confirmation hearing in March 2017, U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke stated that one of his top three priorities as secretary would be "to ensure the professionals on the front line, our rangers and field managers, have the right tools, right resources and flexibility to make the right decisions that give a voice to the people they serve." But during his 16 months in office, that's not what's been happening...

Endangered Species Act Under Threat

Current proposals to weaken the Endangered Species Act would remove protections for species that are newly listed as "threatened," allow economic considerations instead of science to determine whether or not a species should be saved, and make it harder to designate unoccupied habitat as "critical habitat," making it easier for companies to build roads, pipelines, mines and other industrial projects in areas determined essential to a species' survival. Climate change would be exempted from key parts of the law, making it more difficult to protect the polar bear and the many other species threatened by climate change.

Animals that have been protected by the act include the Florida panther, manatee, Key deer and American alligator. The alligator is considered one of the act's big success stories. The act has helped numerous bird species recover and be delisted, including the Brown Pelican, Bald Eagle, and Peregrine Falcon. About 100 bird species are currently protected under the act, including the Whooping Crane, Piping Plover, and Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

The Nature Conservancy and the Audubon Society have both set up action pages that you can use to ask your members of Congress to oppose weakening the Endangered Species Act:;jsessionid=00000000.app211a?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=252&src=e.action.252.loc_cta

And the Natural Resources Defense Council has set up an action page that urges administration officials to reverse course and save the Endangered Species Act:

Another of the proposed changes seems aimed at ending recovery efforts for the red wolf in North Carolina:

Blue-Green Algae Closes Businesses and Sends People to the Hospital

Toxic blue-green algae blooms have spread as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers releases water from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers to keep the Herbert Hoover Dike from breaching. At least 15 people have been treated at Martin Health System emergency rooms after having contact with the St. Lucie River. In Stuart, Florida Sportsman magazine has closed its office until conditions improve because a nearby blue-green algae bloom was making employees sick, with respiratory problems, headaches, itchy eyes and runny noses. The toxins produced by blue-green algae can also cause rashes, nausea and liver failure if people drink or swim in the water.

An algae sample taken July 5 at the St. Lucie Lock in Stuart was returned Tuesday with toxin levels 15 times higher than what the World Health Organization considers low risk. Earlier samples from the Caloosahatchee River in Lee County were twice as high, indicating a "high risk for acute health effects." An Ohio State University study found people living in areas with significant blue-green algae blooms, including Florida's Treasure Coast, are more likely to die from nonalcoholic liver disease than those who don't. And a growing number of scientists believe one of the toxins in blue-green algae can trigger neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), many years after exposure.

Blue-green algae thrives in fresh water that's rich in nutrients which primarily come from fertilizers and septic tanks. It's estimated that the watershed north of Lake Okeechobee contains enough nutrients from past agricultural activities to fuel high nitrogen and phosphorous inputs for the next 50 years, even if farming stopped today. The lake bed also is laden with "legacy" nutrients accumulated from decades past that can be stirred up and suspended in the water column by high winds. The freshwater discharges from the lake weaken salinity levels in the estuaries and introduce the blue-green algae that can grow into widespread toxic blooms. And, scientists believe, because of climate change, these harmful algae blooms will worsen.

The South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force met in Washington, D.C. last month, its first meeting in more than a year. At the urging of Congressman Brian Mast, U.S. Representative for the Treasure Coast, the Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks for the U.S. Department of Interior asked that a group of scientists and engineers be assembled by mid-August to review if Lake Okeechobee levels could be managed differently during the dry season to reduce the need for wet-season releases. Rep. Mast asked if Lake Okeechobee water was being hoarded unnecessarily to benefit farmers during the dry season, leaving coastal communities to suffer discharges during the rainy summer months. The mayor of Sanibel Island warned that the continuing lake discharges and resulting algae blooms were on the verge of putting southwest Florida into a recession.

In this election season there's plenty of fingerpointing about who's to blame for how we got where we are today, but not many of the fingers are pointing in the right direction, as a number of editorials and op-eds have pointed out. Since 2011, hundreds of millions of dollars have been cut from Florida's five water management districts, with the South Florida Water Management District, responsible for Everglades restoration, hit with the biggest cuts. The District lost 300 technicians, scientists and other staff because of the reduced budget. The budget for Florida's Department of Environmental Protection was also slashed, along with the Department's ability to enforce their protection mandates. Florida has spent years fighting federal efforts to raise water quality standards. The tax on farmers to clean pollution running off their farm fields is being phased out. In 2011 the Florida legislature rolled back the state's growth management laws, regulations that had helped control development and its impacts, such as fertilizer runoff and human waste that leaks from septic systems into waterways. Florida's septic tank inspection program was ended in 2012. The state reversed course on a plan to buy land in the Everglades Agricultural Area for use in Everglades restoration. All efforts to adapt to sea level rise and climate change have been at regional levels, because the problems we see today in South Florida have not been acknowledged at the state level.

Lingering Red Tide Kills Marine Life from Naples to Tampa

A bloom of red tide algae that swept in to the west coast of Florida from Naples to Tampa has been killing marine life and tourism in its path. Red tide occurs naturally, growing 20 to 40 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. This year's bloom began in October 2017. Although it typically dissipates during winter and is gone by March, it has lasted longer into the spring and summer for the past three years. Like blue-green algae, red tide algae thrives in nutrient-heavy conditions like those caused by fertilizer runoff, but unlike blue-green algae, it lives in higher salinity water. It works its way up the food chain from snails on sea grasses eaten by manatees to fish eaten by turtles, birds or bigger fish. The toxin it produces attacks the nervous system. Brown pelicans stumble about and lose their waterproofing because they can no longer preen. Turtles swim in circles. Manatees drown, unable to lift their snouts above water. A person who swims in it can suffer respiratory problems, scratchy throat, teary eyes and skin irritations. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, simultaneously suffering from blue-green algae coming from the Caloosahatchee River and red tide, reports that conditions at the Refuge and around Sanibel Island have deteriorated rapidly since June.

Federal Funding for New EAA Reservoir Approved

The White House Office of Management and Budget backed Florida's effort to secure federal funding for the the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir last month. The reservoir is intended to store water from Lake Okeechobee and reduce the amount of water that must be discharged into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers, hopefully alleviating the blue-green algae blooms plaguing those rivers and estuaries. The goal is to clean the water sufficiently to be able to send it south to help restore the Everglades. The funding request now heads to the U.S. Senate. The plan is expected to be included as part of America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. If approved by the end of the year, the plan for the 10,500-acre above-ground reservoir and 6,500-acre Stormwater Treatment Area in western Palm Beach County will be included in the 2020 federal budget.

Federal Funding Will Expedite Repairs to Lake Okeechobee Dike

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced last month that funding is in place to speed repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee. The Corps plans to use hurricane relief funds that Congress set aside earlier this year. Fixing the dike means the Corps will reconsider how much water the lake can safely hold. Coastal communities have begged the Corps to hold more water in the lake instead of releasing it to the east and west coasts of Florida, where it has fueled toxic blue-green algae blooms. But in addition to flood control and safety concerns, there are other environmental issues to be weighed. The shallow marshes at the lake's western edge, when healthy, harbor aquatic life that attracts wading birds and other wildlife, including the endangered Snail Kite, not to mention anglers from around the world. Raising lake levels could inundate the marshes and devastate the fishery.

Snail Kites Adapting to Invasive Apple Snails

The endangered Snail Kite may owe its continued existence to the invasive apple snail. Apple snails are the sole food source for Snail Kites, but the draining of Florida's wetlands to build homes and farms hurt the native apple snail, which still struggles in water high in nutrients from fertilizer runoff. As native apple snail populations dwindled, so did the Snail Kite, whose beak is uniquely adapted to digging apple snails out of their shells. A severe drought in 2008 dried up the wetlands where Snail Kites used to hunt apple snails, and Snail Kite numbers dropped to only 750 birds. In 2010, the number of successful Snail Kite nests statewide through May totaled six. But meanwhile, an invasive exotic apple snail, much larger and more prolific than the native apple snail, had begun establishing itself in the Snail Kite's breeding range. A study released in December by University of Florida researchers found that Snail Kites were rapidly evolving to have larger beaks more adept at digging deep into the larger exotic snail. The year-round food source has increased nesting periods from a few months in the spring well into fall, and made the birds more willing to start new nests if one fails. The Snail Kite population this year is estimated at 2,585, and this May, the count of successful nests was 124.

Women Fight the Python Invasion

Python hunting and python research are not just for men. Python hunter Donna Kalil and python researcher Adia Sovie are featured in these stories about women working on the front lines and behind the scenes in the fight against this invasive species in the Everglades. Donna Kalil, a real estate agent, was one of 25 contractors hired in March 2017 by the South Florida Water Management District's Python Elimination Program. From over 1,000 applications and a pool of 90 percent men, she was the sole woman chosen, and now having captured 50 pythons, is considered one of their top hunters. Adia Sovie, a PhD student at the University of Florida, started pursuing her master's in wildlife ecology and conservation at UF in July 2012, four months after surveys showed that mammal populations in the Everglades had declined by 99 percent.

Sovie collected 30 rabbits, tagged them with tracking devices and reintroduced them into Everglades National Park. Seventy-five percent of the rabbits she released were eaten by pythons, the tracking devices discovered inside the snakes' stomachs. As of early July, 1,142 pythons had been removed under the elimination program. No research on Everglades mammal populations has been conducted since the hunts began, but Kalil said that she thinks the hunts have made a difference. She said that last year she only saw one rabbit and so far this year has seen about five. She's spotting more mice and armadillos, and occasionally even a possum or a raccoon.

Lizards Reveal Their Secrets to Surviving Hurricanes

Harvard researchers who, by coincidence, had been measuring and studying lizards just before Hurricanes Irma and Maria blew into the Turks and Caicos Islands last September, were able to return a few weeks later to see if there was a difference in the surviving population. They found that the survivors had 6 to 9 percent bigger toe pads, significantly longer front limbs and smaller back limbs, compared with the population before the storm. The scientists then used a leaf blower to simulate hurricane conditions to see how long a lizard could hold on to a wooden rod. Even at 102 mph, the lizards grasped the pole with two clingy front feet while their tails and back legs flapped in the wind. At 108 mph though, they went flying. The study is the first to show natural selection due to hurricane, and explains why island lizards have bigger toe pads than inland Central American lizards, a difference that had baffled scientists. No lizards were harmed in the study, they claim.

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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!


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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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