Visitor Services Planning

A visitor services plan identifies issues, goals, objectives, and strategies for management of the visitor services program over the next 15 years. The plan provides a clear picture of what we intend to do for wildlife-dependent recreational activities on the A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge). Fish and wildlife conservation has first priority, followed by the encouragement of public use as long as it is compatible with Refuge purposes and the Refuge System mission.

The Service is currently drafting a visitor services plan (VSP) and accompanying environmental assessment (EA). The draft VSP/EA will include detailed information about the planning process and will outline a range of management alternatives. Once finalized, the VSP will determine the visitor services management goals and activities for the Refuge over the next 15 years.

We are happy to announce that the South Florida Water Management District and the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge signed a new 20-year License Agreement (PDF download, 2,157 KB) on February 26, 2018. The recently signed agreement asks the Refuge to evaluate 25 recreational enhancements for compatibility and possible implementation on the Refuge. The VSP will include the evaluation of the 25 recreational enhancements, evaluate existing public uses, and allow our partners and the general public to provide their suggestions for evaluation.

Initial Scoping
Over 150 people attended public scoping meetings for visitor services planning in May 2018. The two identical meetings were held on Saturday, May 19, 2018 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Palm Beach County Extension in West Palm Beach, FL, and on Tuesday, May 22, 2018, from 5:00 pm to 8:30 pm at the South County Civic Center in Delray Beach, FL.

The initial news release, presentation, and comment summary documents are included as PDF links below:

A.R.M Loxahatchee NWR Public Scoping Announcement News Release (PDF download, 80 KB)

A.R.M Loxahatchee NWR Public Scoping Amended News Release (PDF download, 258 KB)

A.R.M Loxahatchee NWR May 19th and 22nd Public Scoping Meeting Presentation (PDF download, 3,284 KB)

A.R.M Loxahatchee NWR May 19th and 22nd Public Scoping Meeting Comment Summary (PDF Download, 198 KB)

Want to get involved?
Public involvement is an integral part of plan development. The planning process includes a two-way sharing of information and ideas between us and you—the public, Refuge neighbors, cooperating agencies, conservation partners, and others. Your input improves our effectiveness and the quality of our decisions.

Conversations and other communications with you give us the benefit of your collective expertise and information from many individuals. Your involvement helps us identify needs, issues, and different solutions for management of habitat, wildlife, and visitor services.

To ensure consideration of your comments in the development of the draft CCP, please submit your comments by August 3, 2018.

Suggestions and comments can also be submitted by:


A.R.M. Loxahatchee VSP
P.O. Box 924
Freeport, FL 32439

Thank you for helping us evaluate and improve our public use program and activities at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

The National Wildlife Refuge System is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Service is the primary Federal entity responsible for conserving and enhancing the Nation’s fish and wildlife populations and their habitats. Although the Service shares this responsibility with other Federal, State, tribal, local, and private entities, the Service has specific trust resource responsibilities for migratory birds, threatened and endangered species, certain anadromous fish, certain marine mammals, coral reef ecosystems, wetlands, and other special aquatic habitats. The Service also has similar trust responsibilities for the lands and waters it administers to support the conservation and enhancement of all fish and wildlife and their associated habitats.