Visitor Services Planning

Snail Kite by Bradley Rosendorf/Friends of Loxahatchee

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.

Visitor Services Planning

The Service has drafted a Visitor Services Plan and environmental assessment (Draft VSP/EA). The Draft VSP/EA includes 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 (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.

Public Comment Period on Draft Visitor Services Plan

The Refuge hosted a public meeting during the public comment period of the Draft Visitor Services Plan. This meeting began at 5:30 PM with a brief presentation at 6:00 pm on September 20, 2018, at the Wellington Community High School Theater.

*UPDATE* The Refuge has decided to extend the comment deadline an additional 30 days for public review and comment of the Draft VSP/EA. Written comments will be accepted from September 10, 2018 to November 8, 2018.

Click the link to view the news release announcing public review of the Draft VSP/EA. 

Click the link to view the Draft Visitor Services Plan.

Click the link to view the presentation given during the September 20, 2018 Public Comment Meeting.

Click the link to view the news release about the extension of the comment period for public review.

Want to get involved?
Comments received during the scoping process have informed our Draft Visitor Services Plan. We are asking the public to provide comments on the draft VSP and EA by November 8, 2018.

Written suggestions and comments can 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.