May 2018

Recreational activities abound at the Refuge, even in summer, when admittedly it is a bit buggier. Our wildly popular tram tours are running 6 days a week now, and our volunteers lead canoe tours every Saturday morning. The Cypress Swamp always feels a few degrees cooler than everywhere else in the summer. Summer mornings are still nice for hiking and biking and, if it gets too hot, you can come inside and enjoy the cool of our Visitor Center. What activities would you like to enjoy here?

The newly signed lease agreement that allows the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to continue operating the Refuge on state lands contains a list of 25 proposed recreational enhancements that the Service will be evaluating for compatibility with its mission and possible implementation on the Refuge.

The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is the conservation, management, and restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations.

The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act, passed by Congress in 1997, established hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and interpretation as approved public uses, where compatible with the mission and purpose of an individual refuge. The 1997 Act also established a formal process for determining what is a compatible use on a refuge. That is the process that will be used to evaluate the recreational enhancements listed in the lease agreement, along with other proposals and concerns submitted by the public between now and August 3.

For those of you into fishing, you'll be happy to hear that funding to replace the fishing pier damaged by Hurricane Irma has been authorized by Congress. Some of the proposed recreational enhancements would expand opportunities for fishing, as well as for hunting, canoeing, hiking, biking and wildlife observation. And with the newly acquired Strazzulla Marsh, there will be more places available for public access. I hope each of you who cares about the Refuge takes this opportunity to speak up and let us know what you would like to be able to do on the Refuge, what improvements you would like to see, and what you feel is important to preserve or restore. Email your comments to armloxvsp@fws.gov or mail them to A.R.M. Loxahatchee VSP, P.O. Box 924, Freeport, FL 32439.