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A group of employees and volunteers clean up desbris along a dock and wetland.
Information icon Loxahatchee Staff members and Florida Sportmen’s Conservation Association members work together to remove debris from old research site. Photo by Bishop Wright, FSCA.

Refuge staff partners with sportsmen’s group on Earth Day 2017

More than 60 members of the Florida Sportmen’s Conservation Association (FSCA) partnered with employees of Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge to celebrate Earth Day on April 22 by removing debris from the refuge. They removed the remains of an old research site used years earlier to investigate the effects of nutrients on Everglades vegetation and water quality.

The refuge was buzzing with activity well before sunrise as FSCA members arrived with their airboats ready to go. Before launching into refuge waters, all boats were washed to prevent the potential spread of invasive hitchhikers. With several refuge airboats in service as well, it was quite a sight to see nearly 30 boats gathered around the Lee Road boat ramps. Work for the day was divided among three different groups. One group traveled about 20 minutes to the site and proceeded to disassemble the structure, loading debris into airboats for removal. Another group used a large industrial forklift to unload airboats as they dropped off their loads at the boat ramps. A third group had the important job of preparing lunch for the many hungry workers.

A group of about a dozen boats gathers in the marsh for a clean up effort.
Debris removed and the site is restored to its natural condition. Photo by FSCA.

Throughout the morning, staff and FSCA members worked side-by-side, and significant progress was made as evidenced by dumpsters filling with an assortment of wood, plastic sheeting, wiring, and scrap metal which was recycled. Workers took a break at noon and were treated to a lunch of hotdogs, hamburgers, salads, and all the fixings provided by the Friends of Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. After a short break, work resumed until the site was fully cleaned by late afternoon.

More than 11 tons of debris was removed from the refuge. A considerable amount of time, effort, and goodwill went into making the day a huge success. The refuge, and the Everglades, was left a little better than before. What better way to celebrate Earth Day!

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