Living Waters – Loxahatchee River, Lake Worth Creek Aquatic Preserve

Our first expedition on the East Coast is at the Loxahatchee River – Lake Worth Creek
Aquatic Preserve – an inland freshwater river that feeds directly into the Atlantic Ocean. The aquatic preserve is a small but dynamic
estuary located in northern Palm Beach and southern Martin counties, known for its fishing,
boating and prime residential development. The Loxahatchee River consists of three forks:
north, northwest, and southwest. These three freshwater tributaries drain into
the Loxahatchee River Estuary, then east to the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean. The Loxahatchee River’s northwest fork was
named a National Wild and Scenic River in 1985. The river’s timeless beauty is enchanting
as it winds its way through the Jonathan Dickinson State Park, passing under a canopy of old
cypress trees. Richard E. Roberts, park biologist, tells
us about the importance of public education and the beauty of the Loxahatchee River.>>Richard E. Roberts:
I think it’s always been a good way to get the public involved in the river, get out
on the river, provide them tours, provide them access to go down the river, to chit-chat
with them and talk with them about some of the things that are going on. And that’s the whole effort. We can put people in a boat and get a lot
accomplished. As we go up the river, we can talk about the
different changes that are going on and just see them. It’s a very effective way to educate the public,
politicians, just everybody about what’s going on.>>Narrator:
Water quality means life to the estuary, effecting its health and its plant and animal species. Agricultural and residential development have
modified most of the Loxahatchee River drainage basin area and caused freshwater intrusion.>>Richard E Roberts:
We are situated in such a neat area because of the climate here. You have both temperate species that come
down from the north and then you have also this tropical vegetation coming up from the
south. You have off the inlet side you have your
salt water plants and animals coming in here and vice versa you have fresh water coming
out. It makes this great blend of diversity in
the basin which is kinda really neat as far as the river system is concerned. In the northwest fork was this canopy effect
of the cypress and the hardwoods. Most phenomenal thing about this river and
its uniqueness is the fact that it’s still here.>>Narrator:
Visitors to the Jonathan Dickinson State Park visit several archaeological and cultural
sites, including the early 1900s outpost of Trapper Nelson, known as the “Wild Man of
the Loxahatchee”. Other activities include commercial boating,
canoeing, kayaking, fishing and nature watching.>>Richard E Roberts:
It’s a concern of the Park Service how many people go down the river, what kind of experience
that they have. If you particularly what to go down the river
early in the morning to experience the wildlife, the close quiet conversation, I think there
should be that time and place for that river experience. There also is the time and experience for
you to go out and enjoy a group of people, and chit-chat and have fun as well. And just the quietness of being out there
in the wilderness being able to kinda collect your thoughts, a spiritual awakening can happen
and really enjoying that experience.

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