Last Month's Newsletter


SCHEDULED PROGRAMS        January 2020

Birding for Beginners

Saturday, January 11, 9:00 a.m.

Learn the basics of bird identification, how to use binoculars, and then help collect data to aid with conservation efforts. Email by January 8 to register.

This is the first of several FUN events - Families Understanding Nature - planned for the coming months!

Leave No Trace - In a Nutshell

Saturday, January 18, 1:00 p.m.

Learn about "The 7 Principles" and how you can help nature stay wild and beautiful from your own backyard to remote wilderness areas. Email by January 15 to register.

Family Fishing Day

Saturday, January 25, 1:30 p.m.

Learn about knot-tying, fish identification, fishing ethics and conservation, casting and fishing. Fishing poles and bait are provided, or you can bring your own. Youth under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Participants between the ages 16 and 64 must possess a Florida Fishing License. Meet at the Visitor Center.

Night Walks

Friday, January 10 & 24, 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.

Everglades Tram Tours

Daily, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. except January 10 & 14
Every Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday & Wednesday, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. except January 14

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

Twilight Tram Tour

Tuesday, January 7, 5:30 p.m.

Experience the sunset over the Everglades followed by a moonlit drive on the marsh in an open-air tram. The tour lasts between 1 and 2 hours. Meet at the Visitor Center.

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

Photography Tram Tours

Every Sunday, 7:00 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.

Early Morning Bird Walks

Every Wednesday, 7:30 - 11:30 a.m.

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:

Guided Bike Tours

Every Saturday & Sunday, 10:00 a.m., except January 11 & 12

Bring your bicycle and helmet and join your guide for a 6.5-mile wheeled tour. Gain perspective with an introduction to the historic dimensions of the Northern Everglades and then pedal to selected Refuge features, interesting plants and hopefully wildlife! Learn about the unique role of the Refuge and the challenges posed by exotic pest plants. Meet in the Marsh Trail parking lot.

Swamp Strolls

Saturday & Sunday, January 25-26, 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 Visitor Center.

Roving Wildlife Photographer

Every Saturday, 9:30 a.m.

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

Roving Naturalist

Every Friday, 1:00 - 4:00 pm.
Tuesday, January 14 & 28, 12:30 - 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.

Moonlight Guided Canoe Tours

Saturday, January 11, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 8, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 7, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 11, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 9, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 6, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

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


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

Events are listed on the Friends website at

Friends Annual Membership Meeting

Sunday, January 26, 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Speaker: Pauline Stacey, Friends Everglades Coalition Representative
Location: Visitor Center

Join the Friends for our annual membership meeting and learn about the advocacy work being done by the Everglades Coalition, an alliance of more than sixty local, state and national conservation and environmental organizations dedicated to full restoration of the Everglades, from Pauline Stacey, the Friends EvCo Representative. Meet fellow Friends and enjoy light refreshments afterwards.

Loxahatchee Visions Artwork Now On Display

The entries from the Friends' 2019 art contest is now on display and available for purchase in the Visitor Center theater, so come out and see for yourself the outstanding artwork! A portion of the proceeds (25%) from any sales will be donated to the Friends.

Thanks to Ira Rappaport, you can view the artwork on our website:

Dynamic Composition 1-Day Photography Workshop

Saturday, January 18, 9:15 - 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.

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

Fee-Free Day: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - January 20

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 20.

Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group: Rethink Paradise: Courage & Action for Climate Change

Saturday, January 25, 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 noon
Speakers: Penni Redford, West Palm Beach City Climate Change & Resilience Manager;
Sapna Gupta, Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group Membership Chair & Professor of Chemistry, Palm Beach State College
Location: Refuge Visitor Center

The Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group's monthly meeting will begin with Penni Redford, Climate Change & Resilience Manager for West Palm Beach, sharing insights from her lifelong interest in plant systems and sustainability. She has trained volunteers for both the University of Florida Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists Programs, and served as Manager of Grassy Waters Preserve before assuming her current position. Then Sapna Gupta will discuss the many ways the local Loxahatchee Group is involved in our community and how you can get involved. The program will be followed by a guided tour at the Refuge.

The meeting is free and open to the public. Let the attendant at the entrance gate know that you are there for the Sierra Club meeting at the Visitor Center.

Save the Dates! (Details to Follow):

21st Annual Everglades Day Family Festival

Saturday, February 8

Plein Air Art Contest Reception and Awards Presentation

Sunday, February 16

37th Annual Photography Contest

Entries accepted now thru Sunday, March 29
Reception and Award Presentation: Sunday, May 3, 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 May 3.

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, February 29, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon Visitor Center Theater
Sunday, March 1, 6:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Hands-On Photography - Wakodahatchee Wetlands
Saturday, March 7, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon Visitor Center Theater

Our 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

COBWRA Water and Wetlands Symposium: Water Wise and Why

Tuesday, February 11, 6:30 p.m., Sign-in begins at 5:30 p.m.
Location: Tuscany Bay Clubhouse, 5087 Palazzo Place, Boynton Beach

The Coalition of Boynton West Residential Associations is presenting a symposium and environmental expo featuring a distinguished panel of experts, including Moderator Lisa Interlandi of the Everglades Law Center and Panelists Paul Owens, President of 1000 Friends of Florida, Jeremy McBryan, Palm Beach County Water Resources Manager, Laurie Albrecht, Palm Beach County Environmental Horticulture Agent - UF/IFAS Extension, and Robert Robbins, Sustainable Palm Beach County Board Member. Pre-Registration is recommended at, but walk-ins are welcome. For more information about COBWRA, go to

Audubon Everglades 7-Week Conservation Stewardship Training Course

Every Monday, February - March 16, 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 3 to March 16, 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 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, the instructors, and the native habitats you will be experiencing at the Eventbrite sign-up page:

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 or call (561) 876-8815.

Refuges Here & Across the Country Suffer From Budget Cuts, Shrinking Staff

This story from Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge in Montana is the same story that's playing out at National Wildlife Refuges across the country - a decade of budget cuts and shrinking staff have left refuges with fewer scientists, reduced law enforcement and a lack of habitat restoration. The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System - to protect and restore wildlife habitat - is falling by the wayside. At the same time that funding and staffing has been cut, visitation across the system has increased, and the Department of Interior is mandating that more refuges be opened to hunting, fishing and other types of public access.

Our own 145,189-acre Refuge is down to 10 full-time, permanent employees and 2 part-time temporary employees, significantly down from a decade ago, when 20 permanent, 12 temporary and 4 seasonal employees all worked here, including biologists, fire specialists, law enforcement and maintenance staff, not to mention those who run the Visitor Center and provide services to the more than 300,000 visitors who visit annually. One biologist remains, at a time when the DNA of the invasive Burmese python has been found on the Refuge, the small mammal population is in decline, and invasive exotic plants continue to wreak havoc on wildlife habitat across the Refuge. The new Visitor Services plan, much of it mandated by both the state and federal governments, opens more areas of the Refuge to public access and more types of recreation, but staffing caps preclude the possibility of adding any new employees to help implement the plan. Budget cuts also make it difficult to fulfill the commitment to pay $2 million annually to the state to treat invasive exotics in the state-owned lands in the Refuge interior.

While Bird Populations Decline, Protections Fail

Two major research projects released this fall show steep declines in bird populations, with the loss of birds affecting every U.S. state in North America. The first of the studies, called the "Billion Birds" report and published in the journal "Science" in September, concluded that 2.9 billion birds have vanished across North America since 1970, a decline of roughly 30 percent. Another major report weeks later from the National Audubon Society provided a grim forecast of the potential impacts of warming temperatures on 600 bird species in North America. Much of the information used in both studies came from data collected by bird-watchers, including the Breeding Bird Survey, a joint project with the U.S. Geological Survey and the Canadian Wildlife Service dating back to the 1960s, and Audubon's Christmas Bird Count.

A policy change in 2017 that was billed as merely a technical clarification to a century-old law has prevented the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from requiring developers, energy companies and other businesses to take precautionary measures to protect birds. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was originally enacted to protect birds from over-hunting and poaching at a time when feathered hats were all the rage and birds like the Snowy Egret were hunted almost to extinction. It makes it illegal "by any means or in any manner" to hunt, take, capture or kill birds, nests or eggs from listed species without a permit. Beginning in the 1970s, federal officials used the act to prosecute and fine companies for accidental deaths on power lines, in oil pits, in wind turbines and by other industrial hazards. But now, as birds across the country are being killed and nests destroyed by oil spills, construction crews and chemical contamination, the Service contends that because of the new legal interpretation, "If the purpose or intent of your activity is not to take birds/nests/eggs, then it is no longer prohibited." Even a disaster like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, which killed or injured about a million birds, would no longer expose a company to prosecution or fines.

Diminishing Role of Science in Federal Policymaking

Scientists are being overruled, ignored and sidelined at a number of federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Interior. Numerous scientists have been reassigned or relocated, scientific advisory boards disbanded and research studies halted. More than two-thirds of respondents to a survey of federal scientists across 16 agencies said that hiring freezes and departures made it harder to conduct scientific work. Hundreds of scientists have left the government. In June, the White House ordered agencies to cut by one-third the number of federal advisory boards that provide technical advice.

At the Interior Department, funding has been withdrawn for its Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, 22 regional research centers that tackled issues like habitat loss and wildfire management. While California and Alaska used state money to keep their centers open, 16 of 22 remain in limbo.

Climate policy experts have been particularly targeted. This year, for instance, the National Park Service's principal climate change scientist, Patrick Gonzalez, received a "cease and desist" letter from supervisors after testifying to Congress in February about the risks that global warming poses to National Parks. But Dr. Gonzalez, with the support of the University of California, Berkeley, where he is an associate adjunct professor, continues to warn about the dangers of climate change and work with the United Nations climate change panel using his vacation time. Speaking to Congress again in June he said, "I'd like to provide a positive example for other scientists."

Python-Hunting Contest Starts Friday

The big 10-day Python Challenge starts Friday in the Everglades and runs through January 19. Various eradication programs have resulted in the removal of more than 9,500 pythons from the Everglades, where the invasive snakes have eaten pretty much everything that moves, decimating populations of small mammals like the marsh rabbit.

Here's a python hunter who bagged 5 pythons in one day and 3 at once with only one bag:

And here's one of the few women hired as a python hunter, hunting with her daughter:

National Wildlife Refuge Association Annual Report

This annual report from the National Wildlife Refuge Association highlights some of the funding and other issues confronting National Wildlife Refuges across the country:

Latest Issue of Gator Tales

The Friends' most recent issue of Gator Tales features our winning photo contest entries, Dr. Peggy VanArman's history of LILA, a water warning from John M. Dunn - author of "Drying Up, the Fresh Water Crisis in Florida," a young visitor's experiences on the Marsh Trail, a not-quite-as-young visitor's experiences on the L-40 Levee Bike Trail and more. Check it out online:

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:
Or, if you don't have the link handy, just go to 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 and Cathy Patterson we have a very active community of Friends on Facebook:
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, 1982-2020



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