Learn about sea turtles July 30 at Grayton Beach State Park or Aug. 1 at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

Learn about sea turtles at Grayton Beach State Park July 30

 On Wednesday July 20 at 1 p.m. join ranger Lawrence aka Rooster as he gives an interpretive talk on sea turtles. Everyone is invited to come learn about the endangered sea turtles that nest on the beautiful beaches of Walton County. Participants will meet at the large beach pavilion at the beach parking area.

All programs are subject to change. Outside programs will be cancelled during severe weather/rain. Pets are not allowed.

Admission is $5.00 per vehicle. Grayton Beach State Park is located at 357 Main Park Rd., Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459. For more information, call: (850) 267-8300


Learn about sea turtles at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Aug. 1

seaturtle2Date/time: Friday August 1, 2-3 p.m.

The majestic Sea Turtles have begun another reproductive season. Last year was one of the best on record at the park. Learn the basic facts about common Sea Turtles found at Topsail.  Be a part of an enlightening program and see what you can do to help preserve these awe inspiring creatures of the sea. This program will take place in the clubhouse, upon entering the park the staff will direct you to the clubhouse, entry fee is 6.00. This program is suitable for all ages.

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::

Posted in Eco adventure, Environment, Nature | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Kid’s Catfish Tournament at Nick’s Seafood Restaurant a huge success

Grand prize winner Rodney Johnson with his new boat. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Grand prize winner Rodney Johnson with his new boat. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Nick’s Seafood Restaurant in Freeport hosted their annual Kid’s Catfish Tournament on July 26. A fun day of fishing was had by all 38 participants fishing along the Choctawhatchee Bay.

Weight ins and festivities were held after the tournament behind the restaurant. All kids who fished received goodies, with the top five in two categories receiving prizes and trophies. The grand prize was a won by angler Rodney Johnson who received a Tracker Marine Jon-boat. The kids enjoyed a mullet toss competitions as well after the tournament.

Camryn Meyer with her winning sailcat. Camryn won second place in sailcat and third place in hardhead catfish. Girls like to fish too! Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Camryn Meyer with her winning sailcat. Camryn won second place in sailcat and third place in hardhead catfish. Girls like to fish too! Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

The kids weighed in flathead and sailcat catfish. The top anglers were:

First place, Case Woodard – 5.17 lbs.
Second place, Camryn Meyer – 5.07 lbs.
Third place, Levi Strasser – 4.96 lbs.

First place, Rodney Johnson – 7.92 lbs.
Second place, Dalen Johnson – 7.17 lbs.
Third place, Camryn Meyer – 6.14 lbs.

All proceeds to benefit the Backpacks of Love Foundation and the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance.


Posted in Fishing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Oyster reef construction volunteers needed August 12th and 14th

The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance is seeking volunteers to help bag and build an oyster reefs on August 12th and 14th.

On Aug. 12, oyster bagging will be held at the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance campus at 109 Greenway Trail, Santa Rosa Beach. From 9 a.m. – 12 Noon you will be bagging fossilized oyster shell for use in future oyster reefs.

What to bring/wear: Wear clothes and close-toed shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Bring sunscreen, snacks, a water bottle and a hat. Water and gloves will be provided.

On Aug. 14, volunteers are needed to assist in unloading bagged oyster shell and helping to place the bagged shell in the water at a reef site. The event will be held at Marina Cove Townhomes, Marina Cove Dr., Niceville, FL 32578. Please park in the Schooner’s parking lot and walk over to the boat ramp parking area.

RSVP to Rachel Gwin Gwinr@nwfsc.edu Tel: (850) 200-4173.


Posted in Environment | Tagged | Leave a comment

Honey bee swarms a normal part of nature

Honey bee swarm in a sweet bay magnolia tree in Santa Rosa Beach. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Honey bee swarm in a sweet bay magnolia tree in Santa Rosa Beach. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Have you ever seen a swarm of honey bees and hit the panic button? Not to worry, it is only part of nature, and the bees are not interested in you.

Jim Dietrich of Dietrich’s Honey Farm in DeFuniak Springs has seen many swarms over the years.

“I typically see swarms happen two or three times a year,” Dietrich said.

Honey bee swarms are a normal sign of a productive and strong honey bee colony. Swarms are colony-level reproduction, which differs from individual bee reproduction (i.e., when more bees are produced within a colony). When a colony swarms, the colony splits into two colonies. As a result, the population of honey bees in the environment grows and genes are exchanged as the new queen in the parent colony mates with drones from other colonies in the surrounding environment.

Honey bee colonies, especially colonies of European subspecies of honey bees, tend to swarm in early spring just before and during the principle nectar flow. This is logical since the departing swarm will need significant nutritional resources to build new comb, stock cells with nectar and pollen, and consume enough food for energy to raise new brood. However, swarms can occur at other times during warm months.

If you see a swarm of honey bees around your home, give Jim Dietrich a call at 850-259-3447.

Dietrich’s Honey Farm also offers a variety of honey available for purchase online at www.dietrichshoneyfarm.com.

Posted in Home/Garden, Nature | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Ranger program, cookout and a movie at Camp Helen State Park Aug. 6

lodgeCamp Helen State Park is offering a movie, food, and fun with a family-oriented movie, environmental interpretive program, and old-fashioned campfire cookout.

The event will start at 5:30 p.m. in the recreation hall with an interpretive program led by a Florida Park ranger. 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.

On August 6 the movie The Lorax will be shown. The Lorax” concerns 12-year-old Ted who will do anything to find a living Truffula Tree in order to impress the girl of his dreams. As he embarks on his journey, Ted discovers the incredible story of the Lorax, a grumpy but charming creature who speaks for the trees and fights to protect his world. (Rated PG)  The interpretive program topic will be Trees.

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 is free, although donations are requested. Donations will go directly to the Friends of Camp Helen State Park to benefit the park’s resource management projects and interpretive programs.

Camp Helen State Park is located at 23937 Panama City Beach Parkway, Panama City Beach, Florida 32413. Phone: 850–233–5059 :: MAP::

Click here to learn more about Camp Helen State Park.

More information is available at facebook.com/FriendsOfCampHelenStatePark, by calling (850) 233-5059, or by emailing CampHelenFriends@gmail.com.

Posted in Eco adventure, Outdoor Family Fun, Parks | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Alaqua Animal Refuge honors hero of the month

cathypotterCathy Potter is our very deserving Animal Hero of the Month for July.

Cathy works two full days a week in our “SVU” unit. The SVU unit is for smaller dogs, some with medical issues. Cathy has volunteered with Alaqua for just over two years and has no plans to leave. She truly enjoys working with the animals and being a part of their development, rehabilitation, socialization, and healing. Cathy cleans the houses and kennels, socializes the pups, gives them tons of love, feeds them, and makes sure they are safe, healthy, and happy in their environment. Cathy also takes them for field trips to the park, helps with the laundry at Alaqua, volunteers at special events, and has been a foster mom (a foster fail!) She works with a team of volunteers who work alongside the staff to create a safe haven for the smaller, more vulnerable dogs. We thank Cathy from the bottom of our hearts for everything she does for Alaqua! We couldn’t do what we do without our team of dedicated volunteers.

Alaqua Animal Refuge is a no-kill animal refuge located in Northwest Florida. The refuge has placed over 10,000 animals of all kinds since it’s inception in 2007, and has grown to become a recognized leader in animal welfare and animal cruelty prevention.

For more information about Alaqua and their adoptable animals please visit their website,www.alaquaanimalrefuge.org/FindAPet. Alaqua Animal Refuge is open Tuesday through Sunday from 12:00 noon until 5 p.m.  For more information, contact Alaqua Animal Refuge at 850-880-6399 or go online at www.aarflorida.com.

Posted in Home/Garden | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Florida spiny lobster season starts Aug. 6 and runs through March 31

Spiny lobster season opens Aug. 6 with a two day season opener July 30-31. Photo courtesy FWC.

Spiny lobster season opens Aug. 6 with a two day season opener July 30-31. Photo courtesy FWC.

2014 spiny lobster season opens with the two-day recreational sport season July 30 and 31

The Florida spiny lobster season starts Aug. 6 and runs through March 31.

Planning on catching some of these tasty crustaceans? Here is what you need to know before you go.

Spiny Lobster measurementNo one wants a small lobster for dinner. Make sure you check the size. Measuring devices are required, and lobsters must be measured while they are in the water. If the carapace length is not larger than 3 inches, it must be left in the water (see image on how to measure spiny lobster).


To protect the next generation and your future chances to have lobster for dinner, harvest of egg-bearing females is prohibited. Lobsters have hundreds of thousands of eggs that are easily visible and attached under the tail. While most lobsters have completed reproduction by the start of the fishing season, finding lobsters with eggs is common in July and August.

Bring a cooler big enough to hold the entire lobster. Spiny lobsters must remain in whole condition until they are brought to shore. Also, do not take spiny lobster with any device that might puncture, penetrate or crush its shell.

Stick to the bag and possession limits so there will be enough lobsters for all your friends and family. During the two-day spiny lobster sport season, recreational divers and snorkelers can take up to six lobsters per person daily in Monroe County and Biscayne National Park waters and 12 lobsters per person daily in other Florida waters. You may possess no more than the daily bag limit of lobsters when you are on the water. When you are off the water, you may possess no more than the daily bag limit on the first day of the sport season and no more than double the daily bag limit on the second day. See the chart for an easy-to-read guide on the two-day sport season bag limits. During the Aug. 6-to-March 31 regular season, the daily recreational bag and on-the-water possession limit is six spiny lobsters per person.

Two-Day Sport Season Where? Daily bag limit and max number you can possess while on the water Max number you can possess off the water – July 30 Max number you can possess off the water July 31
Monroe Co. and Biscayne National Park 6 6 12
All other Florida waters 12 12 24


While the waters may be less crowded at night, diving for spiny lobsters after the sun goes down is not allowed in Monroe County during the two-day sport season.

Know where you can go. Lobster harvest is always prohibited in Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, Biscayne Bay/Card Sound Spiny Lobster Sanctuary, certain areas of John Pennekamp State Park, and no-take areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. During the two-day season, all harvest of lobster is prohibited throughout John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

Have the proper paperwork. A recreational saltwater fishing license and a spiny lobster permit are required to recreationally harvest spiny lobsters unless you are exempt from recreational license requirements. Information about these licenses and permits is available online at MyFWC.com/License.

Do double-duty while you are in the water and remove invasive lionfish. These nonnative species are often found in the same areas as spiny lobster, and they negatively impact Florida’s native wildlife and habitat. Help keep the lionfish population under control by removing them from Florida waters. If you plan to take lionfish with a spear, be aware of no-spearing zones and always check with your local law enforcement agency before planning your spearfishing trips.

Safety first. Divers, even those who wade in, should stay within 300 feet of a properly displayed divers-down symbol (red with a white diagonal stripe) on a flag or buoy when in open water and within 100 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag or buoy if on a river, inlet or navigation channel. Boat operators must slow to idle speed if they need to travel within 300 feet of a divers-down flag or buoy in open water or 100 feet of one on a river, inlet or navigational channel.

Divers-down flags displayed on vessels must be at least 20 inches by 24 inches, and a stiffener is required to keep the flag unfurled. The flag must be displayed from the highest point of the vessel, must be visible from all directions and must be displayed only when divers are in the water. So when the divers are out of the water, don’t forget to take it down. Divers-down symbols towed by divers must be at least 12 inches by 12 inches. More information on divers-down flag requirements is available online at MyFWC.com/Boating by clicking on “Boating Regulations.”

Additional information on recreational spiny lobster fishing, including how to measure spiny lobster, is available online at MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Lobster.”

Posted in Fishing | Tagged | Leave a comment

Walton county fishing report for July 22

shellcrackerFishing is great!

Choctawhatchee Bay area: Still good bites of speckled trout west of Hogtown. Also hybrid bass.

Offshore/inshore: Good bites of snapper, grouper, and king mackerel.

River: Shellcracker bite are fantastic!

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

Posted in Fishing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

E.O.Wilson Biophilia Center presents Reptile Round-up Aug. 2

turtlebobCome face to face with reptiles of all shapes and sizes. Discover the world of reptiles through arts and crafts, and other amazing activities. Alligators, snakes, turtles, and lizards oh my!

General Admission: Adults: $8, Children $5, 2 and under Free

Snacks and lunch available for purchase.

For more information, call (850) 835-1842. The E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center is located at 4956 State Hwy 20 East, Freeport, Florida 32439

Posted in Eco adventure, Nature | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Community workshop regarding beach accesses and potential change in future use of Topsail Hill Preserve State Park July 30

Terns along the beach at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Terns along the beach at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Date/time: July 30 at 6 p.m. – South Walton Courthouse Annex, 31 Coastal Center Blvd., Santa Rosa Beach, FL

The Walton County Tourist Development Council is proposing a public beach access within Topsail Hill Preserve State Park’s western boundaries. The proposed ¼ mile+ long boardwalk would be a pedestrian and bicycle access only with no parking or restroom facilities.

A public workshop will be held on this subject and other proposed accesses on July 30 at 6 p.m. at the South Walton courthouse. The Board of County Commissioners will be voting on whether or not to proceed with the proposed projects at the commissioner’s meeting on Aug. 12. Click here: Requestfromwaltoncounty to view initial request and initial feasibility study of proposed Topsail access.

Outfall at Morris Lake. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Outfall at Morris Lake. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

If you have ever been to Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, it’s easy to understand why it is celebrated as one of the Florida’s most favored recreation and preservation areas. Topsail contains 16 distinct natural communities, and is home to several threatened and endangered species such as the snowy plover, Choctawhatchee beach mouse, and gopher tortoise to name a few. It features wet prairies, scrub, pine flatwoods, marshes and cypress domes. More than three miles of crystal white quartz beaches await your enjoyment, along with five beautiful coastal dune lakes. In total, the preserve is 1,643 acres of natural wonder.

One must experience Topsail first hand to comprehend its incredible significance as an important place to conserve. The scent of rosemary, pines, salt air, stimulate your senses as you explore the many natural features of this extraordinary place. Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is the last of its kind; a precious jewel that hopefully will be left intact for future generations to enjoy. It is one of the last remaining natural examples of Real Florida.

Click here for Topsail Hill Preserve’s Unit Management Plan.

Click here to learn more about exploring beautiful Topsail Hill Preserve State Park.

Posted in Beaches, Environment, Nature, Parks | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment