The Refuge includes three and one-half miles of barrier island beach and a sand pine scrub forest on the mainland. The beach is one of the most productive sea turtle nesting areas in the United States, with the endangered leatherback, green and threatened loggerhead sea turtle using the beach for their nesting. The sand pine scrub habitat, preserved between the U.S. 1 corridor and the Indian River Lagoon, is Florida's oldest and most endangered habitat. It is home to many vanishing plant and animal species, including scrub jays, gopher tortoises, indigo snakes, four-petaled pawpaw and dancing lady orchids. The Refuge borders an estuarine area, where seagrass beds occur. The estuary provides food and critical shelter to the manatee, an endangered species. Other wildlife species share the habitat including brown pelicans, ospreys, least terns, shore and wading birds.
The Hobe Sound Nature Center, Inc., is a private, non-profit organization established in 1973 by Mr. Jackson Burke and Mrs. Elizabeth Kirby for the Jupiter Island Garden Club, Inc with a mission to educate people of all ages about Florida's fragile environment. The Center enjoys a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allowing it to conduct education and awareness programs on site, while U.S. Fish and Wildlife provides and maintains the facility. The Hobe Sound Community Chest, Jupiter Island Garden Club and Loblolly Community Foundation are among the major funding sources of the Nature Center.
Created in ,1982, the Friends of the Nature Center help support and promote the mission of the Hobe Sound Nature Center. Membership entitles you to take an active role with our educational efforts. All members receive a subscription to our quarterly newsletter, the Mangrove News with the latest happenings and events at the Nature Center. Members also receive discounts in the Owls Roost gift shop, discounted turtle walks and summer camp registration. Joining is easy! Become a Member
The Elizabeth W. Kirby Interpretive Center opened to the public in 1985 and features exhibits on the estuaries, sand pine scrub, manatees, sea turtles and much more. After losing an entire building to the hurricanes of 2004, the Refuge headquarters and Hobe Sound Center moved into a new building during the summer of 2007. This is the museum we use today with an exhibit hall featuring live animals, interpretive exhibits, kid friendly activities, Owl’s Roost gift shop as well as office for staff. The Education Classroom has seating for nearly 100 persons and both buildings are fully handicap accessible.