Morrison Springs health advisory rescinded

Swimmers and divers at Morrison Springs. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Swimmers and divers at Morrison Springs. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

June 30, 2015

Effective immediately, the Florida Department of Health in Walton County is rescinding the June 16, 2015 swim advisory for the Morrison Springs bathing place.

DOH Walton feels that water quality in this area has improved considerably due to the reduction in bacteria levels.

We will continue to monitor the water quality in this area monthly and routinely advise the public of our results. For more information contact the DOH Walton at 850-892-8021.

Learn more about Morrison Springs by clicking here.

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Bayside fishing clinics at Kellogg Park in July and August

ErniemartinDates/time: July 2, 16, 30, Aug. 6 – 3 – 5 p.m.

The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA), in partnership with Northwest Florida State College, announces the summer season of its popular eco-tourism initiative, Eco Adventures of Walton County.

This educational eco-adventure takes you to Kellogg Park, a newly established park, off Chat Holley Road to learn fishing techniques about fishing on the Choctawhatchee Bay. You will fish from the park and in the water to get a real feel for the techniques necessary to catch a fish in the Bay. The guide is well versed in fishing in the area and will share his diverse knowledge about the area and the fish that live there! Beginner or proficient fisherman/fisherwoman you will enjoy this class and definitely learn something new. You are encouraged to bring your own rod to further your own knowledge of your equipment, however there will be rods provided, as well as fishing lures. Please bring sunscreen, water, snacks, weather appropriate clothing, bug spray, and other amenities needed for your fishing style.

Space is limited to 12 participants. Minimum of 6.

Location: Meet at Kellogg Park. From South Walton Campus of Northwest Florida State College go north on 331, make a left on Chat Holley Road, drive about 2.25 miles and make a right on Nellie Drive, follow Nellie Drive to the Bay and you will see the park straight ahead.

Fee: $35

Discover Roads Less Traveled offers visitors and local residents extraordinary opportunities to explore, discover, and learn about the pristine natural resources that make Walton County unique. Descriptions of the tours being offered are available online at www.basinalliance.org by clicking the Eco Tours information box. Registration is available by phone at 850-200-4160. Click here to download reference # info: Summer 2015 ECOTOUR DESCRIPTIONS

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Learn about sea turtles at Grayton Beach State Park July 15

seaturtle2Date/time: Wednesday July 15th at 3 p.m.

Ranger J.D. will be giving an interpretive program on sea turtles that nest on the beach of Grayton Beach State Park. Participants will meet at the Lakeside Pavilion on the east end of the Grayton Beach State Park beach parking area. This program will take approximately 1 hour.

Directions: Grayton Beach State Park is located South of U.S. 98 approximately halfway between Panama City Beach and Destin. Take County Road 283 south of U.S. 98, turn left at the stop sign on 30A. Approximately a 1/4 mile east of the intersection of County Road 30A and County Road 283 the entrance is on the right.

Contact: (850) 267-8300 for more information. All programs are subject to change. Outside programs will be cancelled during severe weather/rain.

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A look back at Freeport’s former Bay Grove Motel and its owner Charlie Stiller

The Bay Grove Motel in its former glory. Photo courtesy Patrick Pilcher.

The Bay Grove Motel in its former glory. Photo courtesy Patrick Pilcher.

By Beckie Buxton, Freeport historian

Have you ever wondered about the Bay Grove Motel, restaurant and service station? Remnants of the buildings still remain at the northwest base of the Clyde B. Wells (Hwy. 331) bridge.

Freeport natives tell us that, until after World War II, and the building of the “331 Bridge,” a very large palmetto patch covered the parcel of land on the northwestern shore of the Choctawhatchee Bay.

The tourist industry was very small during the 1920s and 1930s. Poor roads and few bridges made it hard for visitors to access the area except by water.

Back of the postcard mentions 90 lb. tarpon caught off the Choctawhatchee Bay bridge. Photo courtesy Patrick Pilcher

Back of the postcard mentions 90 lb. tarpon caught off the Choctawhatchee Bay bridge. Photo courtesy Patrick Pilcher

A man named Charlie David Stiller realized that the new Choctawhatchee Bay Bridge, and the end of rationing of fuel and tires, had greatly increased the number of travelers between Alabama and the Gulf beaches.

He bought that palmetto-covered property and developed it as a service station, café, and cottages to attract the trade of the travelers from Alabama.

A heron wades and white pelicans fly over a jetty area where the former marina once existed in the Bay fill area. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

A heron wades and white pelicans fly over a jetty area where the former marina once existed in the Bay fill area. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

The café served very good seafood and was popular with locals as well. Teenagers enjoyed the hamburgers and made it a hang out.

In the 1950s, if a person liked to water ski, or enjoyed watching others water ski, the “bridge fill” adjoining Bay Grover was the place to park and visit on a Sunday afternoon. Soil for the causeway needed as an approach to the long bridge was dredged from the bottom of the bay. Hence the name of the area called “bridge fill,” although those who do not know its history sometimes call it the bridge “field” area.

There was land purchased with a plan to build a drive-in theater in the Bay Grover area at on time. It was advertised in the local newspapers.

Walton resident Patrick Pilcher remembers a boat marina with a bulk head area that accommodated large boats.

“The water was much deeper back then,” Pilcher recalled.

Although they continued to be viable until the 1970s, the once busy businesses of Bay Grove were sold and finally fell into disrepair.

Memories of it, however, will always include the dream of its developer, Charlie Stiller.

We know that Stiller was born in June of 1910 in Bruce, Walton County to Thomas E. Stiller and Lorna Stiller. His was Annie, was born about 19111 in North Carolina. Charlie’s siblings were Emma, Buford, L.V., Littie, and Daniel.

Prior to undertaking the Bay Grove complex, Charlie Stiller was already an industrious man. He had developed a lucrative pulpwood business, and had many employees in the area. At the time, the United States Deparment of Commerce assured that millions of tons of wood puplp would be needed in the years during and following World War II. As the need for pulpwood escalated, Stiller would sometines purchase a parcel of property, cut the timber from it, and then sell that property. He soon bought and sold enough land that he became active in Real Estate.

Charlie Stiller paid his employees with tokens they could use to purchase products in his stores. Photo courtesy Thomas M. McNeill

Charlie Stiller paid his employees with tokens they could use to purchase products in his stores. Photo courtesy Thomas M. McNeill

His employees would haul the stumps to Pensacola for extraction of tar and resins. In that way, he was also in the naval stores business.

Did you know:

– Resin is the sap that comes from a pine tree.

– A stiller was the person who made the pine resin into spirits of turpentine.

Charlie Stiller began paying his pulpwood employees with tokens and opened a grocery store and dance hall east of Freeport where his employees could pay for their groceries with the tokens.

For a good while lumbering (pulp wooding) and turpentine industries were successful, but declined as the source of trees became less. However, Charlie Stiller continued to be well known as a businessman in the area for years.

Charlie Stiller lived to the age of 78, and at the time of his death lived in DeFuniak Springs.

Learn more about Freeport’s history at the Heritage Center located on SR20.

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Learn about black bears at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park July 10

bearDate/time: Friday July 10th, 1- 2:30 p.m.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park invites you to an informational program on the Florida Black Bear. This program will cover the basics of the bear’s life in Florida, such as life span, denning habits, eating habits, and much more. This will be an all ages program and will take place in the clubhouse. Enter the park through the main gate and park staff will direct you to the clubhouse.

Admission into the park is free until Labor Day. Please stop by the ranger station for more details. Outside tours canceled during severe weather.

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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Nick’s Kids Catfish Tournament July 25, 2015

kidscatfish1smJoin in on the fun as Treylermade Tournaments hosts their 5th Annual Kids Catfish Tournament on Saturday, July 25, 2015. Entry fee is $50 per angler with proceeds to benefit the Backpacks of Love Foundation and Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance. All anglers must register at Nick’s Seafood at Basin Bayou by 7 p.m. on Fri., July 24. Download flyer and registration form: Catfish Tournament Rules.Entry.Flyer 2015

Rules- Kids age of 12 years or under, Four (4) catfish limit saltwater species. Fishing in the Choctawhatchee Bay or estuaries thereof. Fish may be caught in a boat, on a dock, or from the shoreline. Adults may assist kids with handling fish but may not reel fish in for them. (Baiting and Casting and use of landing net only). Live or artificial bait, rod and reel only, no jugs, cast nets, or noodling. Note: Catfish have three spines use caution when handling these fish. (Cut the line when the fish is in the boat, hooks are cheap.)

**FISH MUST BE CAUGHT IN CHOCTAWHATCHEE BAY NORTH OF THE DESTIN BRIDGE.

CRAB ISLAND AND DESTIN HARBOR AREAS ARE OFF-LIMITS. VIOLATING THIS RULE WILL RESULT IN DISQUALIFICATION FROM THE TOURNAMENT**

Scoring: Heaviest weight for a single fish, and a combined weight of 3 Catfish (saltwater species).

Entry Fee: $50 per angler-Proceeds to benefit the Backpacks of Love Foundation and the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA).

GRAND PRIZE: A brand new boat by TRACKER MARINE!

Hardhead Division -Total weight of three Hardhead Catfish.

Grand Prize: New Boat by Tracker Marine; 2nd – 5th place, prizes and medals.

Sailcat Division -Single heaviest Sailcat.

1st – $300 2nd – $200 3rd – $100; 4th & 5th place will be recognized.

Starting Point: Anglers may start from their desired location in waters on or adjacent to the Choctawhatchee Bay in Okaloosa and Walton Counties. Tournament starts at safe daylight on Saturday July 25th.

Weigh-in time: 4:00-5:00 PM. Scale will open at 4:00 and close at 5:00 PM. Contestants must be checked in with a tournament official by 5:00 to have their catfish scored. Weigh in will be at Nick’s Seafood Restaurant 7585 Hwy 20 West Freeport, FL 32439. 850-835-2222 or 850-830-6161.

**All fisher kids must be registered by 7:00 pm Friday, July 24th**.

kidscatfish6smMullet Toss for all ages will be held following the weigh-in.

**The Backpacks of Love program is designed to support and help children in need at Freeport Elementary School and other regions of Walton County. Each week, Backpacks of Love helps children dealing with hunger by providing them with a bag of non-perishable and kid-friendly food.

***The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance is a local non-profit waterway organization that promotes the health and sustainability of the Choctawhatchee Bay Estuary. Their mission is to instill in youth, as well as adults, stewardship practices that will ensure the future of this valuable resource, so that it can be enjoyed by generations to come.

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Guided nature walk at Grayton Beach State Park July 9

graytonbeachstateparkduneDate/time: Wednesday July 8th at 3 p.m.

Park Ranger Charlie will be leading a guided nature walk along the parks dune nature trail. Come learn about coastal dune lakes, the flora and fauna that call the dunes home, and see the most photographed spot on 30-A. Participants will meet at the lakeside pavilion on the east end of the beach parking area. Appropriate clothing, closed toe shoes, drinking water is required. Insect repellant, sun screen, and hat is suggested. This program will take approximately 1 hour.

Directions: Grayton Beach State Park is located South of U.S. 98 approximately halfway between Panama City Beach and Destin. Take County Road 283 south of U.S. 98, turn left at the stop sign on 30A. Approximately a 1/4 mile east of the intersection of County Road 30A and County Road 283 the entrance is on the right.

Contact: (850) 267-8300 for more information. All programs are subject to change. Outside programs will be cancelled during severe weather/rain.

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Take 10 lionfish, get an extra lobster during sport season

spinylobsterAt its June meeting in Sarasota, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a new and exciting opportunity that will encourage divers to remove invasive lionfish by allowing them to take one extra spiny lobster each day during the two-day sport season this summer (July 29-30) that they also harvest 10 lionfish.

In addition, people can take a photo of their lionfish and lobster catch during the two-day season and post it on Facebook.com/LionfishReefRangers to get a “Be the Predator” T-shirt. One lucky photo entrant will also win a lifetime saltwater fishing license via a drawing held shortly after the sport season.

“The FWC operates in a culture of innovation. Opportunities like this are a great way to get divers who are already in the water accustomed to removing lionfish,” said Commissioner Brian Yablonski. “Our hope is that once lobster divers realize how easy it is to remove lionfish, they will continue to do so throughout the regular lobster season and beyond.”

Lionfish are invasive species that have a potential negative impact on Florida’s native wildlife and habitat. With no predators or other mechanisms such as disease or parasites keeping the lionfish population under control in Florida at this time, harvest by divers is the primary means of lionfish removal.

For the 2015 spiny lobster sport season only, divers will be allowed a single spiny lobster over the bag limit per dayfor each day that they also harvest 10 or more lionfish. Lionfish must be kept as proof of harvest while on the water. When off the water, a photo of harvesters with their 10 lionfish must be kept to document eligibility for harvesting an extra lobster. Lionfish must be harvested the same day and prior to taking the additional lobster. All other rules, including no spearfishing zones, apply.

The two-day spiny lobster recreational sport season (also known as mini-season) falls on the last Wednesday and Thursday of July each year before the Aug. 6 opening of the regular season. During this two-day season, the regular bag limit is six spiny lobster in state and federal waters of Biscayne National Park waters and off Monroe County, and 12 spiny lobster elsewhere. There is no bag limit for lionfish; harvesters can take as many as they want.

If the program is successful at encouraging lionfish removal, it could be continued in future years.

For more information, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and select “Commission Meetings” then the “Agenda.” For information about recreational spiny lobster, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational” and “Lobster.”

Help the FWC by reporting all lionfish catches and sightings via the Report Florida Lionfish app or at MyFWC.com/Lionfish.

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Movie, food, and fun at Camp Helen State Park July 1

EDIT_FINAL_Camp Helen Movies_flierDate/time: July 1, 5:30 p.m.

Camp Helen State Park is offering a summer full of movies, food and fun with a series of family-oriented movies, interpretive programs, and old-fashioned campfire cookouts.

On Wednesday, July 1, “The Bee Movie” will be the featured film. In this film, new college graduate Barry B. Benson doesn’t like his career choice of making honey. On a special trip outside the hive, Barry’s life is saved by Vanessa, a human florist in New York City. (Rated PG). The interpretive program topic will be going on a bug hunt presented the University of Florida Extension Office.

The evening will start at 5:30 p.m. in the Recreation Hall with a brief interpretive program led by Florida Park Rangers or other experts. The program will be followed by a cookout including hotdogs and s’mores, provided by the Friends of Camp Helen. Each evening will end with a family movie in the Recreation Hall, where seating will be provided.

A parent or guardian must accompany children.

These special movie nights are sponsored by Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, Camping World, and the Friends of Camp Helen State Park. Admission into the park 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.

Driving Directions
Camp Helen is located at 23937 Panama City Beach Parkway, Panama City Beach, FL, just west of the Phillips Inlet bridge on the Bay County and Walton county line. The entrance is south of U.S. Hwy 98. ::MAP::

More information is available at www.friendsofcamphelen.org, facebook.com/FriendsOfCampHelenStatePark, by calling (850) 233-5059, or by emailing [email protected].

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Walton county fishing report for June 24

 

redfishFishing is good!

Bay: Consistent amount of redfish being caught along with a few speckled trout.

River: Catfish are biting, along with a mixed bag.

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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