Last Month's Newsletter


SCHEDULED PROGRAMS        February 2019

20th Annual Everglades Day Family Festival

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. This year's theme is "Give Wings to Your WILD Side." Enjoy guided tours, nature walks, bird walks, wildlife demonstrations, presentations, exhibits, games, kids' fishing, kids' archery, face painting, canoeing, live music, dance, food trucks and much more!

Special guest speaker Judge Nelson Bailey and his Florida hunting dog will be bringing to life Florida's early years of Crackers, Cows and Curs; and coming to us from the Seminole Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, Alyssa Boge will tell us about the Seminole's connections to the Everglades.

Other special guests include South Florida singer/songwriter Grant Livingston, Everglades water quality expert Dr. Donatto Surratt of the National Park Service, alligator researcher Dr. Laura Brandt of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, bat researcher Dr. Frank Ridgley of Zoo Miami, butterfly expert Alana Edwards of the Atala Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association, Roseate Spoonbill researcher Dr. Jerry Lorenz of Audubon Florida, native reptile experts from the South Florida Herpetological Society, non-native reptile expert Ashley Lawrence of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, wildlife photographer Lance Warley, and biologists Kelly Gestring and Dr. John Galvez giving their fish electroshocking demos.

Examine cultural and historical exhibits with representatives from Yesteryear Village, A Time Remembered, Gladesmen, the Seminole Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Palm Beach Zoo, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary and Okeeheelee Nature Center will exhibit some of their rehabilitated wildlife and the Plein Air painters will be all around the Refuge painting what they see.

All day free admission. Free parking for visitors 3 miles south of the Refuge at West Delray Regional Park, 10875 W Atlantic Ave, with buses running to the Refuge Visitor Center and back continuously, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Visitors in wheelchairs and those with other special needs can use one of two vans that will be looping among festival venues, starting at the Visitor Center. Volunteers also park at West Delray Regional Park, with the first bus leaving at 7:00 a.m. for those helping with setup.

Everglades Day program schedule:

Thank you to all of our donors and sponsors who have made our 20th annual Everglades Day possible, with special thanks to the Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, The Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County, Audubon Everglades and the Friends of the Refuge!

Boat Ramp Closed for Everglades Day, Fishing Pier Remains Closed

The boat ramp at the west end of Lee Road will be closed on February 9 for Everglades Day.
The fishing pier next to the boat ramp remains closed due to damage incurred during Hurricane Irma.

Plein Air Art Contest Reception and Awards Presentation

Sunday, February 17, 2:00 p.m.

After watching the artists of Plein Air Palm Beach creating their works of art here on Everglades Day, come join the Friends and the artists for a reception and awards presentation on Sunday, November 17, in the Visitor Center theater. Afterwards, enjoy wine and cheese, fruit and soft drinks on the Pavilion, and meet and mingle with the artists.

Their entries will be on display in the Visitor Center theater until April, so even if you can't attend on Sunday, please come out later and see for yourself the outstanding artwork! Most of the paintings will be available for purchase. A portion of the proceeds (20%) will be donated to the Friends.

Learning at Lox: Non-Native Lizards of South Florida

Thursday, February 21, 1:30 p.m.

Science Writer and Outreach Coordinator Justin Dalaba from the University of Florida will report on the invasive lizard species that are threatening South Florida and bring a few live lizards with him. Meet at the Visitor Center.

Everglades Tram Tours

Daily except Saturdays, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. & 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. except Everglades Day, February 9

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.

Swamp Strolls

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

Join a volunteer naturalist for a guided tour on the 0.4 mile Cypress Swamp Boardwalk. Learn about the swamp ecosystem from cypress tree knees to animals that call the swamp home. Your guide will talk about how the plants of the swamp were used in the past and present for medicine, food, fiber, transportation, construction, and ceremonial objects. Meet at the pavilion behind the Visitor Center.

Photography Tours

Sunday, February 17 & 24, 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 on an early morning photography tour. 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 Walks

Every Saturday, 1:30 p.m. except Everglades Day, February 9

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

Early Morning Bird Walks

Every Wednesday, 7:30 - 11:30 a.m. Walk Leader: Rick Schofield
Friday, February 22, 8:30 - 10:30 a.m. Walk Leader: Clive Pinnock

Join our volunteer naturalist from Audubon Everglades for an early morning bird walk on the Marsh Trail. Bring binoculars and wear closed-toed/closed heel shoes. These walks are open to birders of all ages and abilities. Meet in the Marsh Trail parking lot. Please arrive 5 - 10 minutes before the walk starts to meet your guide.

Check out recent sightings from eBird Trail Tracker:
... and view our Bird Checklist:

Roving Naturalist

Tuesday, February 12 & 26, 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, 9:00 - 11:15 a.m. except Everglades Day, February 9

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, 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.)


*** Programs subject to change, for more information on any of the activities and programs, please call the Visitor Center at (561) 734-8303.
In the event of another government shutdown, every attempt will be made to honor commitments for previously scheduled events.

Events are listed on the Friends website at

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 or send us an email at The current high bid stands at $1,250!

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

Goodyear Blimp Passenger Guidelines can be viewed here:

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 or visit

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

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 954-815-5955

Don Hamilton 561-212-7358

Fee-Free Day: Presidents' Day - February 18

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is waiving admission fees at all National Wildlife Refuges on Presidents' Day, February 18.

Audubon Society of the Everglades: Fueling the Return of the Everglades Super-colonies - Wading Bird Nesting Responses of 2018: A Precursor to a Hydrologically Restored Everglades?

Tuesday, February 5, 7:00 p.m.
Speaker: Dr. Mark Cook, Section Lead of the Everglades Systems Assessment Section of the South Florida Water Management District
Location: FAU Pine Jog Environmental Education Center, 6301 W. Summit Blvd, West Palm Beach, Rooms 101 and 102

All are invited to the monthly meeting of the Audubon Society of the Everglades where Dr. Mark Cook will be talking about the 2018 record-breaking wading bird nesting in the Everglades, the reasons why it happened, and some recent scientific data on wading bird diet and its importance to nesting. According to Mark, "It's a good news story, and I'm excited to share it with everyone!"

Mark has spent the past 15 years studying wading birds in South Florida. He is the editor of the highly cited annual South Florida Wading Bird Report, on which he collaborates closely with other wading bird scientists in South Florida. The goal of Dr. Cook's current research is to help restore and manage wading bird populations in the Everglades.

The meeting is free and open to the public. Light refreshments at 6:30 p.m. For more information visit or contact Susan McKemy at 561-644-8830 or

Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group: The Oceans and Our Lives

Saturday, February 23, 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 noon
Speaker: Leigh Amanda Cobb, Marine Biologist and Master Dive Instructor
Preceded by: Volunteer and New Member Orientation with light breakfast at 9:15
Location: Refuge Visitor Center ** in case of another government shutdown please confirm location with Sapna Gupta at**

The Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group's monthly meeting will begin with a new member orientation to help you understand how the local Loxahatchee Group is involved in our community and how you can get involved.

Then take a dive with Leigh Amanda Cobb into the colorful and beautiful world that lies deep beneath our ocean's surface. A marine biologist and passionate photographer, Leigh has taken photo shoots for Blue Planet II sequences and National Geographic segments, as well as Shark Week and the BBC. Through her photography, Leigh will share with us a world of misunderstood creatures.

The meeting is free and open to the public. Light breakfast will be available and there will be a guided walk after the program.

Congratulations to Outstanding Friend of the Year - Peter McKelvy!

At the Friends annual membership meeting on January 27, our Outstanding Friend of the Year was awarded to Peter McKelvy for his outstandingly successful efforts in securing grant funding for the Friends. That funding has helped us bring schoolchildren to the Refuge on educational field trips and provide an Education Outreach Associate to help work with those children and with other community groups as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Urban Outreach initiative. Recently awarded grants are also helping to fund this year's 20th annual Everglades Day festival.

Friends Provide Funding to Bring Students to Refuge

The Friends of the Refuge have just made the second of a two-part donation to the School District of Palm Beach County, thanks to donations provided by members of the Friends and a generous grant from The Jim Moran Foundation. The grant for "Wheels to Environmental Learning Lessons" is to be used 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 $7,000 donation to the school district includes the remaining half of the funds from the $10,000 grant. The first half of the grant funds were included in a $7,000 donation that the Friends made to the school district last September.

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."

Since 2016, the Friends have provided a total of $31,000 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.

Our Refuge Through the Eyes of Our Own Home-Grown Journalist!

Friends board member, volunteer, invasive exotics exterminator and psychologist Dr. Ron Seifer has been accepted by the Sun Sentinel as a regular contributor to their community news section, and here's his very first publication!

SFWMD Faces Opposition in Court to Withdrawing From Consent Decree

In filings before a federal court the U.S. Department of Justice, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Miccosukee Tribe and environmental groups opposed a move by the South Florida Water Management District to end federal oversight of Everglades restoration and pull out of a landmark legal settlement that was meant to ensure that polluted water from farms and Lake Okeechobee is cleaned before it reaches Everglades National Park and the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

In November, the South Florida Water Management District, which oversees state efforts to restore the Everglades, asked a federal judge to throw out the agreement, called a consent decree, that was hammered out nearly three decades ago. The District's attorneys argued that massive treatment marshes, federal pollution permits and state water standards could now protect the Park and the Refuge and that the decree is now preventing them from sending more water south into the Everglades.

But federal attorneys cited repeated violations of the decree and monitoring efforts the District has yet to finish. And while the District cited that as evidence of how onerous the order is, the Department of Justice attorneys said it proves the opposite: despite the violations, the decree had allowed the two sides to work things out. They also challenged the District for arguing to remove the decree on legal grounds without providing evidence that water is in fact cleaner.

U.S. Judge Federico Moreno has set a hearing for Feb. 11 on the case. The judge denied a request by the Justice Department to delay the case because many government experts had been furloughed as part of the government shutdown.

Governor Requests $2.5 Billion Over Four Years for Everglades Restoration

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is asking the Legislature to spend $625 million this year on water projects, the first step toward a roughly $2.5 billion, four-year investment in tackling problems plaguing Lake Okeechobee, nearby rivers and estuaries, freshwater springs and the Everglades.

About $360 million for the Everglades will be spent on structures to store water, systems to clean it and to finish raising Tamiami Trail to allow water to flow south into Everglades National Park. The rest of the $625 million will go to protect springs, phase out septic tanks, conserve drinking water and fight red tide and algae blooms.

After asking all of the nine governing board members of the South Florida Water Management District to resign, the governor made two appointments to the board: "Alligator" Ron Bergeron, a vocal Everglades advocate who grew up hunting and fishing in the Everglades who formerly served on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Chauncey Goss, a Sanibel city councilman.

Not all of the governing board members immediately resigned as requested. For awhile there was an ongoing saga of who's in, who's out:

South Florida Septic Tanks Failing With Sea-Level Rise

Sea-level rise is not just a threat to those who live on the coast. Already, there are signs that salt water is seeping west to the Everglades as the rising tide of the ocean intrudes on land in western Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Tens of thousands of septic tanks will be or are already being overwhelmed, according to a Miami-Dade County study. Septic tanks require a layer of dirt underneath to do the final filtration work and return the liquid waste back to the aquifer. But in many parts of South Florida, that layer of dirt between the homes above ground and the water below is much too thin. Sea-level rise is pushing the groundwater upward, leaving the once-dry dirt soggy, and waste water doesn't filter like it's supposed to in soggy soil. The consequences aren't good...

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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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