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Loxahatchee River-Lake Worth Creek Aquatic Preserve Project Spotlight

"Explored on canoe or kayak, the wild and scenic waters can easily transport an open mind back in time to the good old days of Trapper Nelson."


Southeast Florida in Martin and Palm Beach counties


1,700 acres of sovereign submerged lands


Irene Arpayoglou, Manager
Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserves
3300 Lewis Street
Fort Pierce, FL 34981
(772) 429-2995


Key Accomplishments

  • Staff involvement in biological and water quality monitoring conducted by Loxahatchee River Control District and South Florida Water Management District maintains an ongoing and improved awareness of the health of the waters of the aquatic preserve.
  • Conducted permit reviews for several large dredging projects within the Loxahatchee River in order to ensure minimal environmental impacts occur while providing for improved navigational capacity for recreational boaters.

Mangroves mixing with the cypress as salinity levels increase

Kitching Creek Restoration

Kitching Creek is a major tributary to the Loxahatchee River that traverses Jonathan Dickinson State Park and empties into the federally designated Wild and Scenic Northwest Fork of the Loxahatchee River. Kitching Creek has been impacted and redirected by land development activities which ultimately resulted in lower groundwater levels and degradation of natural wetlands. Tidal effects at Jupiter Inlet combined with reduced freshwater flows to the Northwest Fork have resulted in saltwater progression upstream. This project redirects flows to Kitching Creek, increases the flow to the Loxahatchee for habitat restoration, raises groundwater levels, restores degraded wetlands, and reduces nutrient loads reaching the North and Northwest Forks of the Loxahatchee. Partners include Martin County, South Florida Water Management District, and Florida Department of Environmental Protection.


 Quick Facts about Loxahatchee River-Lake Worth Creek Aquatic Preserve
Loxahatchee River - Lake Worth Creek Aquatic Preserve


Trapper Nelson's zoological park

Trapper Nelson's, aka Tarzan of the Loxahatchee, homestead and zoological park was built along the narrow, scenic Northwest Fork of the Loxahatchee River in the 1950s.

Oyster reef

Oyster reefs help to improve water quality in the Loxahatchee River.

Jupiter Inlet lighthouse

The Jupiter Inlet lighthouse was completed in 1860.

  • Loxahatchee River translates to "The Creek of the Turtle".
  • Designated as the Loxahatchee River-Lake Worth Creek Aquatic Preserve in 1970, the aquatic preserve includes the remains of Trapper Nelson's Wildlife Zoo.
  • Loxahatchee River-Lake Worth Creek Aquatic Preserve includes the Northwest Fork of the Loxahatchee River that was designated as the first of two Wild and Scenic Rivers in Florida.
  • The upper reaches is composed of freshwater and tidal marsh riverine communities which is important habitat for various fish and invertebrate species such as the blue crab, striped mullet, snook, and tarpon.
  • Near and within the estuary, mangrove communities line the shoreline and submerged resources include tidal flats, seagrass beds, and oyster bars.
  • Boating (especially kayaking and canoeing), waterskiing, recreational and commercial fishing, wildlife observation and photography are a few of the most popular activities in the aquatic preserve.
  • The aquatic preserve is home to many rare wading birds such as the wood stork, little blue heron, tricolored heron, reddish egret, and roseate spoonbill.

Last updated: April 12, 2017

  3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 235 Tallahassee, Florida 32399 850-245-2094
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