Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge is for the birds

November 29, 2012, 7:30 am

Over the course of a year, nearly 260 species of birds and waterfowl have been spotted in this vast preserve of wet prairies, sawgrass marshes, sloughs and tree islands, making the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge an official “Gateway” along the official Great Florida Birding Trail.

And the birds share this natural Everglades habitat with 23 species of mammals, 17 species of frogs and amphibians, 18 species of turtles and lizards, and 24 different species of snakes.

Encompassing 221 square miles of western Palm Beach County, the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge is the last remaining swath of the northern Everglades. The rest has given over to agriculture, primarily sugar cane fields to the west, and coastal development to the east, making this a very special enclave.

Although most of the refuge is closed to humans, there are three visitor access areas that allow you to experience this magnificent ecosystem, an environment much like all of South Florida before the bulldozers and dredges came to channel water into drainage ditches for houses and crops.

The new Visitors Center, west of Boynton Beach, is the hub of this preserve, offering a variety of activities to introduce and educate you to the refuge’s charms.  The center, just inside the entrance gate, includes an Everglades Exhibition, alligator diorama, interactive games and a virtual airboat ride that takes you for a ride through the prairies, marshes and tree islands.