Last Month's Newsletter

ARTHUR R. MARSHALL LOXAHATCHEE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

Visitor Center Re-Opened with Limited Staffing

The Visitor Center is now open, along with the restrooms. Only a limited number of staff members and volunteers have been allowed to return to work due to the continuing government shutdown, so there will be no tram tours, bird walks, night walks, swamp strolls, photography tours, rovers or other weekly activities. Everglades Day and a few other previously scheduled events will be held as planned, including school field trips and the Friends annual meeting. Loxahatchee Canoeing also continues to rent canoes and kayaks.

Ours was one of 38 National Wildlife Refuges across the nation that was allowed to partially re-open to the public using previously appropriated carry-over funds. Five of our staff members were allowed to return, while the others remain furloughed, with the exception of Law Enforcement. Law Enforcement Officers have been on the job, working without pay since the shutdown began three weeks ago.

If you would like to see this and all of the other National Wildlife Refuges completely reopened, you can use the National Wildlife Refuge Association's action page to urge your Congressional representatives to pass an appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2019 for the Department of Interior:
www.refugeassociation.org/action/#/

Here are some recent articles about the affect of the shutdown on our Refuge and others:
www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-ne-marshall-national-refuge-20190107-story.html
www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20190102/shutdown-means-locked-bathrooms-full-garbage-cans-at-refuge
www.sun-sentinel.com/local/miami-dade/fl-ne-cb-south-florida-national-parks-environmental-muslim-groups-20190111-story.html
www.npca.org/articles/2029-how-is-the-partial-government-shutdown-affecting-national-parks

SCHEDULED PROGRAMS        Late January 2019

Friends Annual Meeting

Sunday, January 27, 12:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Location: C-6 Pavilion (site of old admin building, overlooking the Marsh Trail)

The Friends are doing something special this year for our annual meeting, and we hope that you will be able to join us. We'll enjoy original Florida folk music from the Roadside Revue and hear tales of Florida history from the Florida Cracker Storyteller, Judge Nelson Bailey, along with wine and a light lunch on the C-6 Pavilion overlooking the Marsh Trail. Admission is free, but please RSVP to info@loxahatcheefriends.com to make sure we don't run out of chili at our chili bar!

Moonlight Guided Canoe Tours

Saturday, January 19, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 16, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 16, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 20, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 18, 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.)

RESERVATIONS REQUIRED - Call LOXAHATCHEE CANOEING at 561-733-0192.

Charity Auction: Blimp Ride for Two!

The Friends have been awarded a certificate for a ride for two on the world-famous Goodyear Blimp! This will truly be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for someone because rides aboard the Goodyear Blimp are by invitation only. Goodyear receives hundreds of requests from charities each year, and only a lucky few are selected. We are very excited that this will help us extend the term of our Education Outreach Assistant and his work with visiting school groups and other community service groups.

If you would like to bid, go to the Friends' Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/LoxahatcheeFriends or send us an email at info@LoxahatcheeFriends.com. We have already received our first bid of $1,000!

Bids can be placed in increments of $50. Bidding will close on Sunday, February 17 at midnight. You can check the current highest bid at www.loxahatcheefriends.com/blimp_contest/blimp.html

Goodyear Blimp Passenger Guidelines can be viewed here:
www.goodyearblimp.com/passenger-guide

Fee-Free Day: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - January 21

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is waiving admission fees at all National Wildlife Refuges that are open to the public on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 21.

Save the Date! 20th Annual Everglades Day

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

Join us for Everglades Day, our all-day family festival, with activities for all ages. The theme of the day will be "Giving Wings To Your WILD Side." Enjoy tours, nature walks, bird walks, wildlife demonstrations, presentations, exhibits, games, kids' fishing, kids' archery, canoeing, music, dance, food trucks and much more! All day free admission. Details to follow!
www.auduboneverglades.org/programs-and-events/everglades-day/

36th Annual Photography Contest

Entries accepted now thru Sunday, March 31
Reception and Award Presentation: Sunday, April 28, 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 28.

If you need assistance with digitizing or post-processing or have other questions, please contact loxcontest@evergladesphotosociety.org or visit www.evergladesphotosociety.org/loxcontest

For the Contest Entry Form and the complete set of rules, go to: www.loxahatcheefriends.com/upload/LoxPhotoContest2019.pdf

Birds in Flight 3-Day Photography Workshop

Saturday, April 6, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon Visitor Center Theater
Sunday, April 7, 6:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Hands-On Photography - Wakodahatchee Wetlands
Saturday, April 13, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon Visitor Center Theater

Our favorite award-winning photographers Mike Cohen and Don Hamilton are back, once again leading a 3-day intermediate level photography workshop. Participants who want to improve their basic technique, capture birds in flight, control depth of field and exposure, evaluate light and have some fun are welcome. Mike and Don will do their best to help people at whatever their level and interest, but this workshop will be most useful for intermediate to advanced photographers interested in improving their nature and wildlife image-making skills.

Space is limited. Participants must plan to attend all 3 sessions, bring your camera manual to all sessions and be generally familiar with the operation of their equipment, particularly how to set aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Entry fee is $50 per participant, with all funds donated to the Friends of the Refuge.

Please contact Mike or Don to reserve your spot. They will ask a few questions about your level of experience, your equipment and your goals in order to best prepare for the workshop.

Mike Cohen mykey4photo@gmail.com 954-815-5955 www.flickr.com/photos/mykeyc www.mykey.smugmug.com

Don Hamilton flyinghamiltons@comcast.net 561-212-7358 www.flickr.com/photos/78230469@N02 500px.com/DonHamiltonJr

Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group: Lake Worth Lagoon Connection to Everglades Restoration

Thursday, January 24, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Location: Pine Jog Environmental Education Center, 6301 Summit Blvd, West Palm Beach

Come learn about the link between Everglades restoration and the impacts of the blue-green algae and red tide that invaded Palm Beach County coastlines this summer and fall. Join the Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group's monthly meeting for an informative presentation and discussion with Reinaldo Diaz of the Waterkeeper Alliance. He is prepared to take action on our local waterways, testing and documenting instances of these devastating pollutants. See www.lakeworthwaterkeeper.org or www.facebook.com/LakeWorthWaterkeeper/ for more information. The meeting is free and open to the public.

Audubon Everglades 7-Week Conservation Stewardship Training Course

Every Monday, February 4 - March 18, 9:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Audubon Everglades is offering a 7-week Conservation Stewardship Training Course, an exciting educational opportunity to explore the beautiful natural habitats surrounding us in Palm Beach County. The course will run on consecutive Mondays, from February 4 to March 18, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Fifteen expert instructors will engage participants in understanding how five fragile Florida habitats sustain plants, birds and wildlife, cope with invasive plants and wildlife, manage species of concern, and adapt to growth and climate change. They will also explain the function and importance of the Greater Everglades ecosystem.

This basic environmental education course will include field exploration, complemented by classroom study, an advocacy component and special presentations during the provided catered lunch each Monday. Throughout, stewards will be guided in developing a personal plan of action that will empower them to advocate for their environment.

Check out the course syllabus for the topics, instructors, and native habitats that course participants will be experiencing:
www.auduboneverglades.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Syllabus-2019-Conservation-Stewardship-Training-Course.pdf
For more information and to register, go to the Eventbrite sign-up page:
www.eventbrite.com/e/2019-conservation-stewardship-training-course-mondays-feb-4-mar-18-tickets-52440981387

Scholarships for college students to take this course free of charge are available. If you are a college student or you know one who would be interested, find the application on the Eventbrite page, complete it and submit it by January 16.

For more information email stewardship@auduboneverglades.org or call (561) 876-8815.

New Governor's Executive Order Prioritizes Environmental Protection

Newly sworn in Governor Ron DeSantis signaled a new day for Florida's environment with an executive order on Thursday that calls for $2.5 billion over the next four years for Everglades restoration and resource protection and the creation of a blue-green algae task force. It also calls for the appointment of a chief science officer and the creation of the Office of Environmental Accountability and Transparency and the Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection, all within the Department of Environmental Protection. The order instructs the South Florida Water Management District to "immediately" start the next phase of the reservoir project south of Lake Okeechobee and to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to keep the project on schedule. The final paragraph of the order calls for the DEP to "adamantly oppose all off-shore oil and gas activities off every coast in Florida and hydraulic fracturing in Florida."

Also on Thursday the governor asked for the resignations of the entire governing board of the South Florida Water Management District. The board had angered him in November when it extended a lease for sugar farmers on land that has been slated for the reservoir with little public notice and over the objections of his spokesman Congressman Brian Mast.

You can read the executive order here:
www.flgov.com/2019/01/10/governor-ron-desantis-announces-major-water-policy-reforms/

And some of the articles that have been written about it and the governing board here:
www.jacksonville.com/news/20190110/desantis-offers-plan-to-address-states-water-woes
www.miamiherald.com/opinion/editorials/article224405100.html
www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20190110/governor-asked-all-sfwmd-board-members-to-resign-will-they
www.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/fl-ne-desantis-water-district-shakeup-20190110-story.html
www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20190104/two-surprise-resignations-in-shakeup-at-south-florida-water-management-district
www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20181206/new-water-managers-defend-lease-to-sugar-grower-florida-crystals

The reservoir is intended to minimize the discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers that have been blamed for the outbreaks of toxic blue-green algae in those estuaries. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently reported that it would miss the deadline for completion of a report essential to the project, raising fears that construction of the reservoir would be delayed:
www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20190107/new-will-army-corps-missed-deadline-on-report-delay-critical-toxic-algae-fix

Drought Spreads in South and East Central Florida

Portions of South and Central Florida are the only regions of the country east of Texas that are suffering from drought.
www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20190103/just-in-florida-drought-slowly-spreads-will-rain-ahead-of-cool-front-help

Only a few short months ago fears were that another wetter-than-usual dry season would add insult to injury to the sea grasses and aquatic life in Lake Okeechobee, requiring more damaging releases of water from the lake in order to relieve pressure on the dike, and exacerbating toxic blue-green algae blooms in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Estuaries.
www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20181026/new-why-wet-el-nixf1o-winter-would-be-problematic-for-south-florida

Harmful Algal Bloom Bill Signed into Law

The Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2017, a bill that will provide more than $100 million to combat red tide and other harmful algae outbreaks, was passed by Congress last month and signed into law by President Trump. The bipartisan legislation was championed by Representatives Brian Mast, Alcee Hastings and other members of the Florida Congressional delegation and by then-Senator Bill Nelson. The bill establishes a process to declare an "Event of National Significance" that would trigger disaster-like funding for affected communities.
floridapolitics.com/archives/284822-legislation-federal-funding-algae-blooms
sunshinestatenews.com/story/congress-passes-bill-provides-100-million-fight-harmful-algal-blooms-red-tide

The legislation comes none too soon, as red tide has reappeared on the beaches of Sarasota and Manatee Counties...
www.heraldtribune.com/news/20190106/its-back-red-tide-returns-to-sarasota-manatee-beaches

Maggy Hurchalla Gets Her Car and Kayak Back

Former Martin County Commissioner Maggy Hurchalla lost a court case in February in which Lake Point Restoration charged that she lied to Martin County commissioners about the destruction of wetlands in an effort to kill a 2009 agreement that allowed the company to mine as part of a public works project with the South Florida Water Management District. She maintains the lawsuit is an attempt to intimidate citizens from contacting their public officials with concerns and is appealing the decision. Lake Point's spokeswoman says, "The decision was made to give the kayaks and car back in the Christmas spirit."
www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20190106/janet-renos-old-car-kayak-back-with-sister-after-seizure

Audubon Florida State of the Everglades Report

Audubon Florida has released its latest State of the Everglades report:
fl.audubon.org/sites/g/files/amh666/f/audubon_fl_winter_2018_state_of_the_everglades.pdf?utm_source=ea&utm_medium=email

Shop on Amazon and Support the Friends!

Shop at AmazonSmile and Amazon will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to the Friends, at no extra cost to you! Bookmark this link:
http://smile.amazon.com/ch/59-2152926
Or, if you don't have the link handy, just go to smile.amazon.com and select "Friends of the Arthur R Marshall Loxahatchee Natl Wildlife Refuge" (You can just search for "Loxahatchee" but don't try to spell out "National" or it won't work!)

Like Us on Facebook!

Thanks to Bradley Rosendorf we have a very active community of Friends on Facebook:
www.facebook.com/loxahatcheefriends
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:
www.loxahatcheefriends.com/membership/membership.shtml

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

Elinor Williams
Friends of Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
www.loxahatcheefriends.com
www.facebook.com/loxahatcheefriends

"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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