Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge


Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

The 147,392 acre (596 km²) Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge includes the most northern remnant of the historic Everglades wetland ecosystem. Located in Palm Beach County, Florida, west of Boynton Beach, FL., Loxahatchee is one of over 500 national wildlife refuges located throughout the United States and administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge not only preserves and protects native wildlife, but also offers compatible public recreational and educational opportunities including walking trails, a canoe trail, bike trail, boat ramps, fishing platform, observation towers, butterfly garden, and a visitor center. It is home to alligator, the endangered Snail Kite, and as many as 257 species of birds. As such, it has been designated a 'gateway site' for the Great Florida Birding Trail.

Not quite all of the convert|147392|acre|km2|sing=on refuge is Everglades marsh habitat. A four hundred acre bald cypress swamp is the largest remaining remnant of a cypress strand that once separated the pine flatwoods in the east from the Everglades marshes. A boardwalk into the swamp gives the visitor a chance for an up-close swamp experience without getting his or her feet wet. Hurricane Wilma damaged the refuge in October, 2005, and the administration building was condemned.

Despite all of its treasures, the refuge is in serious danger of quickly becoming an exclusive haven for invasive plants, especially the melaleuca tree and Old World climbing fern, both rapidly growing non-native species, which are quickly overgrowing the native flora and are likely not compatible with the native wildlife.

References

*Part of this article incorporates text from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which is in the public domain.

External links

* [http://loxahatchee.fws.gov Arthur R. Marshall National Wildlife Refuge]
* [http://www.loxahatcheefriends.com/ Friends of Loxahatchee]
* [http://www.artmarshall.org/ The Arthur R. Marshall Foundation]
* [http://www.evergladestrail.org/ The Everglades Trail]


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