Know the law before flying a recreational drone

Drones have become a popular recreational activity for many ages. Although they may be a great gift for children and adults alike, there are some legal requirements in order to fly unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has specific requirements regarding flying of UAVs. Know Before You Fly has helpful information about regulations and flying responsibly.

Here is some helpful information to help get your started:
• You do not need permission from the FAA to fly your UAS (aka drone) for recreation, but you must always fly safely. There are air space restrictions in certain areas such as airports. Learning is key to keeping your UAV safe and out of harms way.
• Be respectful of wildlife, especially nesting shorebirds. Disturbing wildlife can be detrimental to their well being.
• Before you fly outside you must register your UAS if it weighs more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds
• Label your UAS with your registration number
• Read and understand all safety guidelines
• Follow community-based safety guidelines, as developed by organizations such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA).
• Fly no higher than 400 feet and remain below any surrounding obstacles when possible.
• Keep your UAS in eyesight at all times, and use an observer to assist if needed.
• Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations, and you must see and avoid other aircraft and obstacles at all times.
• Do not intentionally fly over unprotected persons or moving vehicles, and remain at least 25 feet away from individuals and vulnerable property.
• Contact the airport and control tower before flying within five miles of an airport or heliport. (Read about best practices here)
• Do not fly in adverse weather conditions such as in high winds or reduced visibility.
• Do not fly under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
• Ensure the operating environment is safe and that the operator is competent and proficient in the operation of the sUAS.
• Do not fly near or over sensitive infrastructure or property such as power stations, water treatment facilities, correctional facilities, heavily traveled roadways, government facilities, etc.
• Check and follow all local laws and ordinances before flying over private property.
• Do not conduct surveillance or photograph persons in areas where there is an expectation of privacy without the individual’s permission (see AMA’s privacy policy).
Label your UAS (PDF)

Questions about UAS Registration? Email [email protected] or call 877-396-4636 or international (703) 574-6777 from 9 am- 5 pm CST, Monday through Friday.

Here are a few helpful links to area clubs and drone hobbyists:

Flite Test

Eglin Aero Modellers

Northwest Florida Drone Pilots

Area 51 hayfield r/c planes and trucks

Crestview Model Aviators

Flying in Florida State Parks

Florida State Parks has specific regulations regarding any aircraft. An aircraft is defined as: any machine supported for flight in the air by buoyancy or by the dynamic action of air on its surfaces, such as gliders, balloons, parachutes, drones, powered airplanes, helicopters, unmanned aircraft systems or other aerial apparatus. Kite: A toy consisting of a light frame with thin material stretched over it, flown in the wind at the end of a string.

No person operating or responsible for an aircraft shall cause any such apparatus to take off from or land in any park, except when the aircraft is either authorized by the park manager or needed in an emergency in which human life is endangered. The park manager may authorize the use of aircraft when the flight is beneficial to the Division. Kites are exempt from this policy.

City of DeFuniak Springs

DeFuniak Springs City Council has adopted an ordinance regarding Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or simply stated the “Drone Ordinance.”  This ordinance was enacted to help protect the welfare of it residents as well as the City.  Below is a summary of the provisions in regards to the ordinance:

•  Owners of UAVs must comply with all FAA requirements to include notification of DeFuniak Springs Municipal Airport if flying within 5 miles of the airport.
• Must have property owner’s permission to fly a UAV between 0 and 500 feet on any privately owned property.
•  Must have a Special Event Permit approved by the DeFuniak Springs City Council in order to fly a UAV on any public property within the city limits.
•  Commercial users of UAVs must comply with special requirements as noted in ordinance to include notification of the Assistant City Manager and the DeFuniak Springs Police at least 4 hours prior to flight.
•  Reckless, harassing, or annoying conduct in connection with a UAV is prohibited.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact DeFuniak Springs Police at 850-892-8513.


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Walton County fishing report for Dec. 8

Fishing is good

Bay/river: Good trout bites at the mouth of the river. Still good redfish bites and some big ones. Hybrids.

River: Crappie

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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Northwest Florida Water Management District awards nearly $1 million for water supply projects

Freeport, DeFuniak Springs, Caryville, and Laurel Hill to receive funds

HAVANA – The Northwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board approved more than $974,000 in grant funding for water supply development projects across northwest Florida.

This funding was awarded as part of a competitive grant program to help local governments and non-profit utilities address local water supply challenges and meet regional water supply protection and management needs.

Since 2013, the District has awarded approximately $20.6 million in grant funding to boost the infrastructure, economic, and public health needs of northwest Florida communities by addressing regional water resource and supply development priorities.

“We are grateful to be able to put taxpayer dollars back to work in this region,” Governing Board Chairman George Roberts said. “And this program allows us to play an active part in contributing to the health and well-being of our communities.”

Projects eligible for grant funding include traditional water supply development projects, alternative water supply projects, such as reuse projects, and conservation projects that result in quantifiable groundwater savings.

It is expected that District funds will help communities leverage state and local funding resources, as well as federal funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and the Community Development Block Grant program.

The District will continue to work with grant recipients to finalize project details and execute funding agreements in the coming weeks and months.

“An important part of the District’s mission is to ensure a safe and reliable supply of water for the people of this region, especially in those communities that face significant challenges in finding funding for these types of projects,” said Brett Cyphers, the District’s Executive Director. “I applaud the Board’s commitment to that mission and to the people of northwest Florida.”

The full list of projects that were awarded $974,355 in funding include (by county):

City of Laurel Hill (Okaloosa County)
The District will provide $134,863 to the City of Laurel Hill for distribution system/pipe improvements, which includes replacing aging water lines with upgraded water main and associated infrastructures. including looping the system for increased reliability.

Berrydale Water System (Santa Rosa County)
The District will provide $35,000 to Berrydale Water System for a feasibility study/engineering, which includes completing an analysis and evaluation of drinking water system improvements, including existing facilities, alternatives, costs, and recommendations.

City of DeFuniak Springs (Walton County)
The District will provide $53,155 to the City of DeFuniak Springs for distribution system/pipe improvements, which includes replacing aging water lines with upgraded water main and associated infrastructures, including looping the system for increased reliability.

City of Freeport (Walton County)
The District will provide $50,000 to the City of Freeport for a feasibility study/engineering, which includes completing engineering, hydraulic modeling, and surveying of major water system improvements needed along US 331.

City of Caryville (Washington County)
The District will provide $140,000 to the City of Caryville for distribution/pipe improvements, which includes replacing water storage facility, associated water line replacement, and associated infrastructures.

City of Lynn Haven (Bay County)
The District will provide $49,825 to the City of Lynn Haven for distribution system/pipe improvements, which includes replacing aging cast iron pipes and associated infrastructures. Continue reading

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Tuba Christmas, Ice Skating Extravaganza at Village of Baytowne Wharf Dec. 10

Date/time: Saturday, December 10, 5 – 8 p.m.

Location: Events Plaza Stage

The Village of Baytowne Wharf in Sandestin Resort will be hosting an evening of holiday entertainment on Saturday, Dec. 10.

Playground Music Center presents a Tuba Christmas where more than 30 brass instruments play some of your favorite holiday classics starting at 5 p.m.

Then Baytowne will host two ice skating shows with figure skating pair Jennifer Don and Ryan Berning. It will be a fun night for the whole family.

Jennifer Don is a National, International and World Junior Medalist in singles and pairs, U.S. National Collegiate Champion in singles, and National Champion of Taiwan in singles. She also holds a place in skating trivia for the first woman to ever win a competition under the new IJS judging system in Oberstdorf, Germany. At one point she was the only one who qualified to compete internationally in singles and pairs on the Junior Grand Prix Series. She was the head choreographer for the Four Continents Championships closing ceremony in Taiwan, working with olympians such as Meryl Davis, Charlie White, Mao Asada, Mirai Nagasu, and Daisuke Takahashi. Don also has a BA from UCLA.

Ryan Berning has been skating professionally for 7 years working for companies including Holiday on Ice, AEG entertainment, and Royal Caribbean cruise lines. While working for Royal Caribbean he had the opportunity to skate aboard three different ships: The Voyager of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, and Allure of the Seas. He is the former 3 time national skater and 3 time Junior National competitor for the United States. He was the Midwestern Sectional Champion in Junior pairs.

The evening finish off with a fireworks display at the Lagoon at 8 p.m.

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Historic Wesley house at Eden Gardens State Park decorated for the holidays, Candlelight Tour Dec. 17

Wesley House decked out for the holidays. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Wesley House decked out for the holidays. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Eden Gardens State Park and the Friends of Eden invite you to join them for a tour of the Wesley House through the holidays. All of the rooms of the historic home have been decorated with Christmas cheer. Each room is decorated in a variety of different themes by local organizations.

Tours of the Wesley House are Thursday – Monday from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m., every hour on the hour. The Christmas decorations will be up through Dec. 31. The rest of the park is open 7 days a week.

On Dec. 17, from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., enjoy the Candlelight Tour, with a traditional walk through the luminaries to the Historic Wesley House to enjoy it’s beautifully seasonally decorated rooms along with carolers singing Christmas songs. After the tour is completed, the Friends of Eden will be providing refreshments in the pavilion. It’s an evening meant to be enjoyed by all who attend. Donations to the Friends of Eden Gardens are welcome and appreciated.  
Fees: Admission fees to the park and the event are waived for the Candlelight Tour.
 Contact: (850) 267-8320. ::MAP::

This year, the following businesses and individuals contributed their decorating talents:

The Destin Woman’s Club decorated the downstairs entryway, upstairs hallway, and the staircase with the theme of “A Christmas Carol.”

Anna Lisa Daniel of “Clay” on 30A “Make a Joyful Song this Christmas” on the sun porch.

Members of Green Thumb Garden Club of Santa Rosa Beach wish you “Yuletide Greetings” in the parlor.

Russ Barley and Tim Ard of Emerald Coast Flowers and Gifts will brought “Christmas Elegance” to the dining room.

Members of the Pt. Washington Historical Society “Festive Feathered Friends gather for Tea” in the library.

edenxmas2016_22Going up the stairway  the upstairs sun porch is “A Victorian Christmas” by the Seagrove Garden Club.

Lynda Smith, Park Specialist, decorated the blue bedroom with “A Woodland Christmas.”

Across the hall, in the Pink Bedroom, Tara Stacey has created “A Child’s Christmas Dream.”

Moving on down the hallway (A Christmas Carol), is the children’s bedroom by the youngest members of our decorating team – the children of South Walton Montessori Academy with the  theme of “A Children’s Christmas.”

And finally to the red bedroom, Nicole Paloma and Rachel Nussbaum with their light and airy creations.

Members of Pt. Washington Historical Society will once more set up all the luminaries – the supplies for the luminaries are made possible thru the generous support of Red Bar’s Ollie & Louie Petit, Bud & Alley’s Dave Rauschkolb, and Cafe Thirty-A’s Harriet Crommelin.

Carolers will be present on the porch, and the Friends of Eden will be serving refreshments in the Pavilion.

This yearly event is sponsored by Florida Park Services and the Friends of Eden – donations to the Friends will be appreciated.

About Eden Gardens State Park
One of the most beautiful parks in Walton County sits along Tucker Bayou in Point Washington in South Walton. Large moss covered live oaks, gardens, walking trails and panoramic views of the bayou provide a visual delight for the visitor to this dynamic and historic State Park.

The focal point of the park is the two-story Wesley house with large white columns and wrap-around porch. Originally owned by the Wesley’s a wealthy Florida timber family, the mansion was purchased in 1963 by Lois Maxon who renovated the home, and created a showplace for family heirlooms and antiques. The collection of Louis XVI furniture is the second largest in the United States. The house is now owned by the State of Florida, and is the centerpiece of the park.

Hours of Operation
The park is open 7 days a week. Guided tours of the Wesley house are available hourly Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (including holidays)

Eden Gardens State Park is located in Point Washington, off U.S. 98 on C.R. 395.
For more information, call (850) 267-8320.
181 Eden Garden Road, Point Washington, Fl. 32459

The parks website is
Park Fees
$4.00 per vehicle
$2.00 for Bikes and Peds
$4.00 per adult house tour, children free


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FWC releases videos to educate Floridians on how best to avoid conflicts with bears

When trash is left in unsecured cans, bears are able to find an easy meal. 
(FWC photo)

When trash is left in unsecured cans, bears are able to find an easy meal. 
(FWC photo)

As part of a continuing effort to reduce conflicts with bears, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is releasing two new videos in the “Living with Florida Black Bears” series, designed to educate the public about how to safely coexist with bears in Florida.

The “Cause for a Call” video outlines when and how people can reduce conflicts with bears by taking simple steps such as securing trash and other attractants.

The “BearWise Communities” video describes how to make a neighborhood “BearWise.” BearWise communities work to coexist with bears. This video educates residents on when and how to report bear conflicts or sightings, and how to secure food items that attract bears to a neighborhood.

BearWise Communities from My FWC on Vimeo.

Unsecured trash and attractants, such as bird feeders, are the number one cause for bears coming into contact with people. This summer FWC researchers, in partnership with Dr. Joseph Clark, a leading black bear scientist, employed cutting-edge modeling to confirm that Florida’s robust black bear population is estimated to be over 4,000 bears. More bears in Florida means more chances for human-bear interaction, which can be dangerous.

The new videos are being added to the existing “Living with Florida Black Bears” series, which already includes the following videos:

  • How to Make Your Wildlife Feeders Bear-Resistant
  • How FWC Conducts Bear Population Estimates
  • A Day in the Life of a Florida Black Bear
  • How to Protect Pets and Livestock from Bears

The FWC plans to release more bear-related videos in the coming months. The short videos help meet the information needs of a busy public.

To view the “Living with Florida Black Bears” video series, visit and click on “Brochures & Other Materials.”

In addition to educational efforts, the FWC is providing financial assistance to local communities so residents and businesses can take actions to reduce human-bear conflicts. To ensure Floridians have the resources necessary to properly secure their garbage, the FWC is currently working to distribute $825,000 to communities to become more BearWise by funding bear-resistant equipment and other methods to reduce conflicts. These efforts are in addition to our already robust Bear Management Program, which includes over 100 staff working year-round to educate people about bears and respond to human-bear conflicts. Read more at and click on “News Releases,” “Oct. 2016” and scroll to “FWC receives 19 proposals…”

To learn how to become BearWise, visit and click on “BearWise Communities” on the left side of the page.

Bear videos available at: External Website

Bear Resistant Wildlife Feeders from My FWC on Vimeo.

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