Remember our fallen service men and women this Memorial Day

The Veteran’s Memorial in Freeport. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Take a moment to remember the brave soldiers who gave their lives for the United States of America

As many of us enjoy an extended Memorial Day weekend by firing up the grill, heading to the beach, watching the Indy 500, or simply enjoying an extra day off with family and friends; please take a moment to remember our brave soldiers who gave their lives for our country.

Since 1868, we have set aside this special day of remembrance. Nearly one million American men and women have died wearing the uniforms of the U.S. Armed Forces.

The Concord Hymn

Ralph Waldo Emerson

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood;
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps,
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream that seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We place with joy a votive stone,
That memory may their deeds redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

O Thou who made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free, –
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raised to them and Thee.

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Owl program at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park June 8

barredowl2Date/time: Wednesday June 8, 9 -11 a.m.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park invites you to enjoy an information program about “Owls” and their place in the food web.  You will learn how to examine the roles owls play in the food web by dissecting owl pellets. Enter the park through the main gate and park staff will direct you to the clubhouse. Standard state park entry fees will apply. GUESTS MUST REGISTER BEFOREHAND, LIMITED TO 20 GUESTS call the ranger station.

A $6.00 entry admission per vehicle into the park. Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is located at 7525 W. Scenic Highway 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459. For more information, call (850) 267-8330 ::MAP::

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Animal track identification hike at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park June 1

raccoontracksmDate/time: Wednesday June 1, 9 – 10 a.m.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park invites you to enjoy an informational program about the wildlife we share the park with. Have you ever come across an animal print or group of prints in the mud of a trail and wondered “Who left it? A dog? Coyote? Raccoon? Squirrel?” Join a Topsail Hill Preserve Park Ranger and learn about prints and tracks, then go on a nature hike to fine tune your track identifying skills. Enter the park through the main gate and park staff will direct you to tram stop 2. If weather is bad the program will be held in the clubhouse. Outside tours cancelled during severe weather.

A $6.00 entry admission per vehicle into the park. Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is located at 7525 W. Scenic Highway 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459. For more information, call (850) 267-8330 ::MAP::

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Walton County fishing report for May 26

RedfishFishing is good

Bay: Still good redfish and trout bites in the Bay. A mixed bag of sizes.

River: Fishing good with crappie, bluegill, and cats.

Surf: Still a few pompano being caught along with whiting.

Click here for fishing forecast

Bay and river report brought to you by Copeland’s. “Where the locals shop and the tourists are welcome.”

Click here to find out more about Copeland’s.
Copeland’s Gun and Tackle Shop
17290 U.S. Hwy. 331 S
Freeport, Florida 32439

(850) 835-4277
Store hours:
Mon. – Fri.: 6 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Sat.: 6 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sun.: Closed

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Co-existing with Florida’s beach-nesting birds

A federally threatened snowy plover at Camp Helen State Park. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Be watchful and respectful of all nesting wildlife, it’s a matter of survival

While we all enjoy the beautiful beaches of Northwest Florida, it is important to remember that we share the beach with nesting shorebirds. While you are at the beach, please remember to be respectful of wildlife. Their survival depends on you!

Frequent disturbances of birds on the beach, especially disturbances that cause birds to take flight, may threaten their survival.

Many species of Florida’s water birds, including gulls, terns, skimmers, plovers, willets and oystercatchers, nest on the beach. When these beach-nesting birds are disturbed and flushed off their nests by people or dogs, eggs and chicks in the nests are exposed to temperature extremes and predators like crows, raccoons and dogs.
Several beach-nesting bird species are declining because of habitat loss and disruption of nesting activities. Beaches and islands that were once isolated are now teeming with boats, beach goers and their pets. It is easy for unknowing beach goers to crush the eggs or kill young chicks accidentally. Eggs and chicks of beach-nesting birds blend in with their surroundings and are nearly invisible on the ground. Continue reading

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Camp Helen State Park hosting movie, food and fun on June 15

camphelenlodgeThe third annual Movies & More series at Camp Helen State Park will continue on Wednesday, June 15 at 5:30 p.m.

The evening begins in the park’s Recreation Hall with a brief interpretive program led by a Camp Helen Park Ranger or other expert. The program will be followed by an old-fashioned campfire cookout of hot dogs and s’mores provided by the Friends of Camp Helen. Each evening will conclude with a family-oriented movie in the Recreation Hall, where seating will be provided.

A parent or guardian must accompany all children.

These special movie nights are sponsored by Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection and the Friends of Camp Helen State Park. Admission into the park for this event is free, although donations are accepted. Donations will go directly to the Friends of Camp Helen State Park to benefit the park’s resource management projects and interpretive programs.

The movie “Yogi Bear” will be shown. Jellystone Park is celebrating its 100th anniversary, but the park will likely close, because low attendance has caused Mayor Brown to decide to sell the land for logging. If the park closes, Yogi Bear and Boo Boo will lose their home. They join forces with Ranger Smith to save the park from closing. Yogi must prove in this endeavor that he is indeed “smarter than the average bear.” (Rated PG). The interpretive program will be about Florida Black Bears by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

More information is available by calling (850) 233-5059 or by emailing [email protected].

Camp Helen State Park is located at 23937 Panama City Beach Parkway (Highway 98), Panama City Beach, just west of the Lake Powell Bridge.

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FWC to host public webinars to discuss bear management May 26, 31, and June 2

fwclogo20071The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is hosting three public webinars to discuss the FWC’s black bear management program and answer questions. Topics to be addressed at the webinars include new bear population estimates, 2016 bear range updates, Bear Wise communities, results of the 2015 limited bear hunt, and input concerning a possible hunt in 2016.

The webinars will be held May 26, May 31 and June 2, each beginning at 6 p.m. EDT. Those interested in viewing the webinar must register for the session of their choice at: Webinar coordinators request that interested individuals sign up for only one webinar to ensure availability for other participants.

“These webinars give the public an opportunity to have their questions answered in real time,” said David Telesco, bear management coordinator. “They also add to the FWC channels already in place for gathering public feedback including email, social media, phone, Ask FWC, bear stakeholder group meetings and commission meetings.”

Participation in the webinar requires computer and telephone access. Those without a computer can listen by phone. Phone registrations must be made by calling 352-372-4747 and asking for Alexis Hampton.

The webinar agenda and other details will be available at For more information, contact Bear Management at 850-922-4330 or [email protected]

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