Visitor Services Planning

Snail Kite perched in a shrub

A visitor services plan identifies 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.

Visitor Services Planning

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is pleased to announce the Visitor Services Plan (VSP) for the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge). The VSP identifies the goals, objectives, and strategies to reach over the next 15-years. It includes implementing and managing existing, new, and expanded wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities to meet the purpose of the Refuge and the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System as a whole.

This VSP addresses compatible wildlife-dependent recreational uses on the Refuge including hunting, frog gigging, bowfishing, fish gigging, wildlife observation, photography, environmental education, and interpretation, hiking and biking, concessionaire operations, motorized and non-motorized watercraft, horseback riding, pet walking, ceremonies, instructor-led small group activities, camping, and commercial uses.

On September 15, 2017, the Secretary of the Interior signed Secretarial Order 3356 with specific directives to “to support and expand hunting and fishing, enhance conservation stewardship, improve wildlife management, and increase outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans”.

On February 26, 2018, the South Florida Water Management District (District) and the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) signed a new 
20-year license agreement. The new license agreement asked the Refuge to evaluate 25 new public uses for compatibility and possible implementation on the Refuge. As part of that process, we developed a detailed Visitor Services Plan. This plan includes the evaluation of the 25 new public uses, evaluates existing public uses, and allows our partners and the general public to provide their suggestions for evaluation. 

In early 2018, the Service met with Tribal, Federal, State, and County government officials. The Service invited the public to provide input on the planning process through a public scoping period which included two public meetings. The draft VSP was released in the Fall of 2018 and the refuge staff had a 60-day public review period including a public meeting. Over 400 comments were received. A summary of comments and Service Responses can be found in Appendix I of the VSP.

View or download a copy of the 2019 Visitor Services Plan 
(PDF, 8,419 KB)

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.