Walton County fishing report for March 24

Fishing is good

Bay: Slot sized and small redfish being caught. Trout slot and small as well.

River: Bass and crappie being caught. Crappie carrying eggs.

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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Meet the Forester series begins with a nature hike in Point Washington State Forest March 31

Date/time: Friday, March 31, 9-11 a.m.

The Florida Forest Service is proud to announce an exciting new educational program at Point Washington State Forest, “Meet the Forester.” The program will consist of a series of educational events each month where participants will “Meet the Forester” and enjoy all the wonders of the forests.

The first “Meet the Forester” educational series will include a Tree Identification Nature Hike on Friday, March 31 from 9 – 11 a.m. at Point Washington State Forest. On the Nature Hike, State-lands Forester, Michael Klassen will take participants on a 1.5-mile hike through the forest providing a close encounter of different plant and animal species, a guide to tree identification, fire ecology and other opportunities for forest recreation.

“Hiking is the ultimate way to enjoy the outdoors and this event will be no different. While being immersed in the forest and unplugged from the world, hikers will engage in hands-on activities while learning about the collaborative effort taken to keep Florida’s forests healthy, renewable and sustainable for future generations,” said Michael Klassen, State-lands Forester, Point Washington State Forest.

Hikers will meet at the Eastern Lake Trailhead located on County Road 395, south of US Highway 98 on Friday, March 31st at 9:00 a.m. It is recommended to wear comfortable clothing, closed toe shoes, and to bring water. If raining, bring a poncho or weather permitted clothing; the event will be canceled due to lightning only. Questions can be directed to [email protected] or by calling the Point Washington State Forest phone at (850) 267-8325.

The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at FloridaForestService.com.

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International Ocean Film tour at Watersound April 1

Date/time: Saturday, April 1, 7-10 p.m.

The International Ocean Film Tour kicks off its first ever American tour in the Watersound Origins community. Similar to MountainFilm on Tour at WaterColor Inn & Resort, this outdoor event will feature 6-7 films with inspiring protagonists, powerful stories, and stunning visuals all into one film program.

The films will be shown at Watersound Origins Village Commons Lawn, 530 Pathways Drive, Watersound, FL 32413

Cost is $15 adults/$5 kids in advance | $25 adults/$10 kids day of showing. Click here for tickets.

Food, beer and wine will also be available for purchase from the Watersound Café. Attendees are invited to bring low back chairs or blankets for a night of inspiring films under the stars. Tickets are limited, non-refundable. Event is rain or shine.

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Recreation opportunities abound within Point Washington State Forest

A view of Eastern Lake from the campsite area. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

South Walton County is home to an abundance of conservation land accessible to visitors and locals to explore. Hiking, biking, horseback riding, are a just a few ways to enjoy the great outdoors.

Located in Santa Rosa Beach along the U.S. Hwy. 98 corridor, Point Washington State Forest boats more than 15,000 acres of recreation opportunities.

The Forest was purchased under Florida’s Conservation and Recreation Lands (CARL) program in 1992. Using an ecosystem management approach, the Florida Forest Service provides for multiple uses of the forest resources. The forest is managed for timber, wildlife, outdoor recreation and ecological restoration. Most of the forest consists of sandhill, basin swamps/titi drains, wet flatwoods, wet prairie and cypress swamps.

Aster blooming can be found during the fall months. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

During the fall months, the array of wildflowers in bloom offer the explorer a colorful journey. Some of the native flowering plants include wild buckweat (Eriogonum tomentosum), hairy jointweed (Polygonella basiramia), senna symeria (seymeria cassioides), goldenaster (Chrysopsis sabrella), goldenrod (Soldago tortifolia), figwort (Agalinis satacea) and blazing star (Litatris champanii) to name a few.

Several plants and animals that are listed as threatened, endangered or species of special concern exist on the Point Washington State Forest. Some of these rare species include: American kestrel (Falco sparverius), gopher tortoise, flatwoods salamander, white-topped pitcher plant (Sarracenia leucophylla) and the world’s largest population of Curtiss sandgrass (Calamovilfa curtissii).

Cyclists enjoy the Point Washington State Forest. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

There are four trail systems in the forest offering more than 30 miles of trails; Eastern Lake Trail, Longleaf Greenway Trail, Cassine Trail are south of U.S. Hwy. 98. The trail systems are popular with both hikers and mountain bicyclists with the majority of the trail systems offering flat, sandy soil.

The McQuage Bayou Horse Trail is located north of Hwy. 98. Currently McQuage is under restoration and will be reopened as a multi use trail in the summer of 2017 offering two 4-mile trails.

The Eastern Lake Trail System was the first trail established on the forest. This trail system consists of three double-track loop trails. The hiker or bicyclist can travel the 3.5-, 5- or 10-mile loop. The Eastern Lake Bike/Hike Trail is included in the Florida Forest Service’s Trailwalker Hiking Program. The trail system can be accessed at the parking lot and trailhead on County Road 395.

Hikers note: Point Washington State Forest is part of the Point Washington Wildlife Management Area. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regulates the hunting seasons in the forest. Visit MyFWC.com/hunting for information.

During hunting season be sure to wear bright colored clothing when hiking.

Download Point Washington State Forest Map

Primitive campsites offer picnic table, grill, fire ring, and composting toilet facility. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

The Forest offers camping opportunities near Eastern Lake. Four primitive sites boast a 14’x20′ tent pad, picnic table, barbecue grill, fire ring, lantern hanger, and a self composting toilet serving the campsite area. Four more campsites will be available in the summer of 2017.

The sites are nestled in a high and dry area of sand pines and palmettos; just a few steps away a stunning view of Eastern Lake.

Cost is $10/night with an honor box at the gate accepting cash or personal checks. To make reservations and to get the key code combination, call the main dispatch phone number at 850-547-7083, or the Point Washington office at 850-267-8325.

To access the campsites, enter across the highway from the Forestry office on U.S. Hwy. 98. Follow roads 11, 2, 7. There are directional signs along the forest road.

Hunting is available in Point Washington State Forest and is part of the Point Washington Wildlife Management Area. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regulates the hunting seasons and game

In keeping with its mission to protect and manage Florida’s forest resources, the Florida Forest Service has developed rules that apply to all state forest visitors. Find out more about state forest fees and rules.

For local information contact:
Division of Forestry
Point Washington State Forest
5865 East U.S. Hwy 98
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
Telephone: (850) 267-8325

For a detailed list of trail locations throughout Walton County, click here

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Where to find the Easter eggs in Walton County

Community egg drop in Santa Rosa Beach April 8

Date/time: Sat., April 8, 9 – 10 a.m.

Seagrove Baptist Church will be hosting an Easter Egg Drop from a helicopter on Saturday, April 8. Register to win a family season passes to Big Kahuna’s Water Park. The egg drop will include 5,000 eggs filled with candy and toys.

The event is free and will be held at Helen McCall Park, 325 Moll Drive, Santa Rosa Beach.

For more information go to www.seagrovebaptist.org.

Preschool Easter egg hunt at Coastal Branch Library April 13

Date/time: Thursday, April 13, 10 a.m.

The Santa Rosa Beach Walton County Coastal Branch Library will be hosting an Easter egg hunt and preschool story hour on Thursday, April 13 at 10 a.m. The Easter Bunny will be hopping into the Coastal Branch Library Reading Garden.

Bring your favorite basket and join in the hunt. Free to the public. No reservations required.

For more information, call Shirles at 850-267-2809.

The Coastal Branch Library is located at 437 Greenway Trail, Santa Rosa Beach.

Freeport Arts and Craft Festival, Easter egg hunt April 15

easterbunnyDate/time: Sat. April 15, 2017 – 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Enjoy a fun day of activities at the Annual Freeport Arts and Craft Festival and Easter Egg Hunt April 15. The event will be held at the Freeport Regional Sports Complex from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Silent auctions at the Freeport Town Planters Society booth with proceeds going to the ACS/Relay for Life.

The Easter Egg Hunt will begin at 10 a.m. Egg hunt times: special needs at 10:30 a.m., toddlers – 3 years at 11:00 a.m. Ages:  4- 7 at 12 Noon with egg drop. Ages 8 – 11 at 12:30 p.m. The Easter Bunny will parachute in about 12 Noon. Kids zone, food vendors, pony rides and family fun.

Freeport Regional Sports Complex is located in Hammock Bay, 563, Hammock Trail E, Freeport off of CR83A.

For more information contact Judy Aultman at (850) 835-1737 email – [email protected] or Donna Irwin at (850) 685-6916 email – [email protected].

Easter Explosion at The Village of Baytowne Wharf April 15

Date/time: Saturday, April 15th – 12 – 3 p.m.

Cost: FREE

Bounce on over to the Village of Baytowne Wharf for an Easter Explosion, Saturday April 15th.

Enjoy a day filled with family friendly entertainment, enjoy lawn games, face-painting, and even race over our inflatable obstacle course. And don’t forget to get your picture taken with the Easter Bunny.

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Choctawhatchee Audubon Society April events

6 April Monthly Meeting and Presentation: “Bug Eyes: What Do Insects See, and How Do We Know” By John Douglass, Scientist. Insect eyes are drastically different from vertebrate eyes, but having good vision can be extremely important for survival whether you re a tiny insect, or a giant squid. Thus, it comes as no surprise that various kinds of eyes have evolved to be exquisitely tuned to each animal s visual needs. In this talk, I will aim to describe how insect eyes work, ways in which they differ from vertebrate eyes, and some of the basic features and limitations that all eyes have in common.

The meeting will be held in Room 130 of the student services building (Bldg 400) at the Northwest Florida State College – Niceville campus. Socializing begins at 6:30 PM and the program at 7:00 PM. Admission is free and open to the public. Call or e-mail Dr. Don Baltz at (225) 252-2760, [email protected], for more information. Please visit our website at Choctawhatcheeaudubon.org. and our Facebook page at Choctawhatchee Audubon Society.

1 April Field Trip: Fort Pickens, Gulf Island National Seashore. Lenny Fenimore leads this exciting trip to a barrier island at the peak of spring migration. Meet in the west end of the Uptown Station parking lot at 7:30. Contact Lenny at 850 863-2039 for additional information.
Wear long pants and closed toed shoes, bring binoculars and a camera. Visit the website at Choctawhatcheeaudubon.org and Facebook page at Choctawhatchee Audubon Society

8 April Estuary Festival: Join Audubon birders in an opportunity to teach children how to identify birds at the Mattie Kelly Environmental Institute Estuary Festival at Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park. Contact Margaret Benner for details at 850 678-6665. Set up begins at 9 AM and stay as long as you like. Please visit the website at Choctawhatcheeaudubon.org and Facebook page at Choctawhatchee Audubon Society.

21 April Chapter Retreat at Port St Joe, FL: Celebrate Earth Day touring/birding various species rich venues in Gulf County for this 2 day event. Make reservations at the MainStay Suites (850) 229-MAIN, Port St Joe for the 21st and 22nd. Orientation will be at 5PM Friday at the Benner s room. Contact Margaret Benner at 850 678-6665 for additional information. Please visit the website at Choctawhatcheeaudubon.org and Facebook page at Choctawhatchee Audubon Society.


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