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Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

| Swamp Trail | Marsh Trail |

Walk the Marsh Trail and see freshwater impoundments whose water levels are managed to benefit waterbirds.

A photo gallery is available for this page. [Photos taken April, 2000]

The Marsh Trail

The Marsh Trail is a 0.8-mile walk around freshwater impoundment #7, found within the Management Compartment C Area of Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. This management area was constructed in 1960 to show the public different freshwater habitats. The area contains 10 diked impoundments totaling about 270 acres. Water levels within the impoundments are managed to benefit different species of waterbirds. For example, lowering the water level can make food more accessible.

panoramic photo of Loxahatchee impoundment landscape
Looking east, impoundment #6 is to the left and impoundment #7 is to the right. [larger image]

Impoundments
photo of landscape
[larger image]
Looking west across the mixed vegetation and waters of impoundment #7. Pickerelweed is the dominant vegetation.
Looking southwest across the pickerelweed and waters of impoundment #7.
photo of pickerelweed
[larger image]
photo of cattails and pickerelweed
[larger image]
Looking south, cattails and pickerelweed within impoundment #7.
Looking northwest from the observation tower of Marsh Trail, dikes separate impoundments. From left to right in the photo, (top left) impoundment #2e, drainage canal, and impoundment #7.
photo of impoundment landscapes
[larger image]
photo of canal
[larger image]
Metal culverts within this canal's banks transport water between the impoundments and the canal.
A short bridge crosses the drainage canal that runs North-South between the impoundment areas. Impoundment #3 lies beyond the trees at top left and impoundment #2e is beyond the trees at top right.

Please note: Since the time these photos were taken, impoundment #3 is not a managed impoundment any longer. Impoundments #3 and #4 were combined and then divided into 4 macrocosms for the Loxahatchee Impoundment Landscape Assessment project managed by the South Florida Water Management District. So, that area does not look the same and it is no longer impoundment #3.

photo of bridge crossing drainage canal between impoundment areas
[larger image]
photo of trail along impoundment 7
[larger image]
Looking south along the Marsh Trail on the east side of impoundment #7.

Spatterdock and Sawgrass
photo of water level gauge
Looking west, a water level gauge amid budding spatterdock within impoundment #2b. [larger image]
Spatterdock is a common freshwater plant of Florida. Its heart-shaped, large leaves may be wide or narrow and are often floating.

Sawgrass is found throughout Florida. It is a member of the sedge family and is not really a grass. It is named for the rows of sharp teeth that run along each edge and down the central spine.

photo of spatterdock and sawgrass.jpg
Looking west, mostly spatterdock and sawgrass are found within impoundment #2b. [larger image]

photo of spatterdock
[larger image]

Pickerelweed photo of pickerelweed
Looking south, pickerelweed almost completely fills impoundment #7. [larger image]
The long heart-shaped leaves (generally 4 to 10-inches long) and violet-blue flowers of the pickerelweed extend above the water. Pickerelweed commonly grows in calm waters throughout Florida and generally blooms in all but the winter months.

Cattails
photo of a bird sitting on top of a cattail
[larger image]
Looking south over the predominately cattail marsh of impoundment #8, a small black bird sits atop a brown, cattail spike.
Cattails are common throughout Florida and can be found in shallow swamps, marshes, ponds and streams.
A close-up of cattails found within the predominately cattail marsh of impoundment #8.
close-up photo of cattails
[larger image]

Lubber grasshopper
photo of lubber grasshopper on top of a post
A young southeastern lubber grasshopper is resting atop a post. [larger image]
Young lubber grasshoppers are black with yellow markings and live in groups of up to 75 individuals. During our walk along the Marsh Trail, many of these young grasshoppers were harmlessly walking around.

Lubber grasshoppers can grow to 2 inches in length. Adult lubbers are yellowish with black markings, and have reddish wings. Lubber wings are very small so they cannot fly. Lubber grasshoppers generally eat a variety of plants.

Birds, Birds, Birds
Water levels within the Management Compartment C Area of Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge are managed to benefit different species of waterbirds.

photo of egret in flight
A great egret flying above the predominately cattail marsh of impoundment #8. [larger image]
Great egrets are commonly seen throughout Florida. They stand about 3 feet tall and have black legs and feet and a yellow bill. Foods this egret may eat include fish, frogs, water snakes and insects.
photo of egrets foraging in pickerelweed
Looking west at a group of egrets foraging in the pickerelweed of impoundment #7. [larger image]
photo of bird in flight
A large bird takes flight over the pickerelweed within impoundment #7. [larger image]
Boat-tailed grackles have large, wide tails that are thought to resemble the keel of a ship. Female boat-tailed grackles are brown. Boat-tailed grackles are seen in dry areas, populated areas and coastal areas of Florida. photo of male boat-tailed grackle standing in grass
A male boat-tailed grackle standing in grasses by the water's edge of impoundment #7. [larger image]

photo of bird flying over water
Looking south, a bird flying over the open waters of impoundment #7. [larger image]
photo of bird high in sky
A large, black bird soars high overhead the Marsh Trail. [larger image]

photo of turkey vulture in flight
A turkey vulture soars high in the sky above the Marsh Trail. [larger image]
Turkey vultures have a 6-foot wingspan and a small, red, naked head.

Vultures are scavengers that mainly feed on carrion - the flesh of dead animals. Carrion can make for messy meals, therefore, a vulture's bald head is suitable for keeping them from getting too messy when they stick their heads into their food.

Periphyton
photo of two turtles swimming through periphyton
Turtles swim among the periphyton in the canal between impoundment #7 and #2b.
[larger image]
Periphyton is a useful mix of different types of algae that grows under water in mats. It is an important source of food and oxygen for many small aquatic organisms. In the winter dry season, periphyton provides small organisms with the moisture they need to survive until rain comes again.
Turtles
photo of a turtle on a rock
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A turtle basks in the sun atop a rock within the canal that surrounds Water Conservation Area 1.

Gulf fritillary butterfly
Gulf fritillaries are found throughout the year in South Florida. These bright orange medium-sized (2.5-3.75-inches) butterflies are commonly seen in fields, gardens, and along forest edges. photo of orange Gulf fritillary butterfly
Gulf fritillary butterfly. [larger image]


Related SOFIA Information

Below we have listed science projects and publications for studies that are being conducted, or have been conducted, in the area of the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. Follow these links to read about each project and to see project-related publications and data.

Science Projects:

Related Publications:

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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Center for Coastal Geology
This page is: http://sofia.usgs.gov /virtual_tour/loxahatchee/indexmarsh.html
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Heather Henkel - Webmaster (hhenkel@usgs.gov)
Last updated: January 15, 2013 @ 12:44 PM (HSH)