By Sharon Aron Baron
Paradise in Parkland awaits on the edge of the Everglades.
Past the luxury communities of MiraLago, Cascata, and the Four Seasons is the southern entrance to the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, named after the Florida Wildlife Federation’s ‘conservationist of the decade’ Arthur Raymond Marshall.
Consisting of 145 acres, or 226 square miles of Everglades ecosystems, the refuge includes wet prairies, sawgrass ridges, sloughs, tree islands, cattail communities, and a 400-acre cypress swamp. The lands provide habitat, food, water, shelter, and space for more than 250 species of birds, 60 species of reptiles and amphibians, 40 species of butterflies, and 20 types of mammals.
The southern entrance is the only one in Broward County and offers residents a glimpse into the vastness of the refuge.
Take advantage of hiking, biking, boating, canoeing, hunting, fishing, wildlife photography, birding, and alligator watching. The area is a true paradise for nature lovers, providing opportunities to explore and discover new places.
There’s parking and several boat ramps for visitors. Two trails extend from the parking area, one to the north and one to the west, open for hiking and biking. The west trail is also available for horseback riding. An observation platform extends over the water along the north levee, providing a stunning view of the area.
Additionally, a third trail heading south leads visitors out of the refuge and into the state-owned Everglades and Francis S. Taylor Everglades Wildlife Management Area.
Despite lacking the amenities offered at the main Boynton Beach entrance, the southern location, a quick car or golf cart ride for some residents, is wide open and provides a true sense of the expansive wilderness.
There is only one portable restroom, and no drinking water is available. However, airboat rides and full and half-day jon boat rentals can be rented nearby. Be prepared to see alligators as they are prevalent in the area, and according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, pets must be confined or on a leash no longer than six feet at all times.
Open 24 hours a day; fees are $10 a day at the unmanned self-pay booth; however, most people ignore it or don’t carry the required cash or check. Entrance fees are waived for visitors entering the refuge on foot, on a bicycle, or on horseback.
With the proposed $40 million improvement to Loxahatchee Road, driving, bicycling, and walking will become much safer. Each vehicle lane will be 11 feet wide. The bike lanes will be five feet wide, separated from the road by two-foot buffers, and the sidewalk will be six feet wide.
Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge is located at 15490 Loxahatchee Road in Parkland. Report all wildlife violations, suspicious activity, and non-emergency requests for assistance to Federal Wildlife Officers by calling 1-800-307-5789.
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- Sharon Aron Baron is a Parkland resident and editor of Talk Media. She has been covering Parkland news since 2012. Parkland Talk was created to provide News, Views, and Entertainment for the residents of Parkland.
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