Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge
Under the administration of Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee NWR, Hobe Sound NWR includes 3 1/2 miles of Atlantic Ocean beach on Jupiter Island and a forest of sand pine scrub on the mainland. The total of 1,000 acres in two separate units was donated by residents of Jupiter Island beginning in 1969. The refuge is gaining popularity as it becomes better known, but the majority of its estimated 150,000 visitors park in the lot on the refuge to swim and surf in the water that is under state control.
Wildlife observers can be rewarded, however, with sightings of herons, egrets, anhingas, and cormorants together with brown pelicans, terns (including royal, caspian, and black), ospreys, and many shore birds. Least tern nesting sites get roped off for protection. Observations can be made at the beaches on the ocean and Intracoastal Waterway and the shore areas at Peck Lake, all accessible on foot. Scrub jays may be seen on the circular Sand Pine Scrub Trail, a delightful walk through this unusual forest community.
The protected refuge beach is also where between 1,000 and 2,000 sea turtle nests produce between 100,000 and 200,000 hatchlings each year. It is one of the prime nesting areas in the United States, primarily for the threatened loggerheads but also for smaller numbers of the endangered leatherbacks and greens. The nests are surveyed every day from April though August, and public turtle walks are conducted at night in June and July. Loss of beachfront to development has greatly reduced the reproduction of these large reptiles.
The Hobe Sound Nature Center operates an interpretive museum in the old motel, which has been converted to classroom and office space and is shared with refuge manager Joseph Schwangel. The privately endowed center is an FWS Cooperating Association and conducts environmental education programs for area schools and organizations and guided walks on the refuge.
It is raising matching funds to renovate the pavilion used for education classes and to build a replacement nature center and museum, which could jointly house a refuge visitor center, both of which are in jeopardy of not receiving the needed federal funds.
Directions to the Refuge
From I-95, east on FL - 708 (Bridge Road), south on US-1 for 2 miles to headquarters and mainland unit on the left. East to end of FL - 708 to Jupiter Island unit on left, and 1 1/2 miles at end of North Beach Road to beach parking lot
The refuge is open from sunrise to sunset. Beach parking lot fee is $4. The Kirby Interpretive Center is open weekdays from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. Contributions to the new Hobe Sound Nature Center may be sent to Hobe Sound Nature Center Foundation, P.O. Box 214, Hobe Sound, FL 33475.
Thanks to Refuge Reporter, an independent quarterly journal to increase recognition and support of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Refuge Reporter stories on wildlife refuges will be appearing periodically on GORP.
P.O. Box 645
Hobe Sound, FL 33475-0645
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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