George Braun, FAWN Program Engineer, left and Mike Goodchild, Walton County Extension Director installing new FAWN weather station. Photo courtesy Walton County Extension.
A FAWN (Florida Automated Weather Network) weather station was recently installed at Brown Pit off of Brown Road in North Walton County.
A joint effort between the University of Florida, Walton County Extension Office, Public Works Department, and the Walton County Board of County Commissioners, the $15,000 weather station was provided by the University of Florida.
The Walton County Extension Office was contacted last September about the possibility of having the weather station located here in Walton County. The only cost to County was providing a site to install and the use of a backhoe to dig footers for the tower. The weather station will benefit farmers and gardeners in the County in making decisions when to plant and water their crops if irrigation is available.
You can access the data at the weather station at: fawn.ifas.ufl.edu. Once on the website you will see a map of Florida and just point to temperature reading on Walton County and you will receive additional information like soil temperatures, dew point, rainfall, and other data. Other resources include aerial maps, links to publications from University of Florida on agriculture, horticulture, and turf grass. On the home page click on ABOUT and choose Links, this will give you a list of some of the publications available.
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
Mon. – Fri.: 6 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Sat.: 6 a.m. – 4 p.m.
A view of Hurricane Lake in the Blackwater River State Forest. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
Lakes, trails, rivers offer endless recreation
Boasting more than 210,000 acres of long leaf pine forests, lakes, streams and rivers, Blackwater River State Forest is a great place to explore nature. As one of the largest and oldest State forests in Florida, it is chock full of recreational for anyone who enjoys exploring the outdoors.
Located in the northwest corner of the Florida Panhandle, straddling Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties, Blackwater River State Forest has a long history. In 1936, the State of Florida took over managing the forest, and it became an official State Forest in 1955. Restoration of the original long leaf pine/wiregrass ecosystem has been ongoing since, and many of the original species of fauna and flora are returning. Long leaf/wiregrass ecosystems include gopher tortoise, indigo snakes, red cockaded woodpecker and a wide variety of other unique species.
Typical campsite area. Some have electric/water. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
The recreational areas offer hiking, biking, swimming, boating, picnicking, fishing, camping, horseback riding, and in the wildlife management areas, hunting. All of the recreation areas are family oriented and alcohol is prohibited. The lakes that permit boating are with electric motors only.
Krul Recreation Area is a camping and day use area built next to a 6.5-acre man-made lake. It is recharged from springs located on the north end of the lake, and its cool water is a popular swimming area. The Sweetwater Trail starts at the Krul parking lot and runs 1.3 miles to Bear Lake. The first half-mile of trail is an ADA accessible boardwalk with a suspension bridge over Sweetwater Creek. An old, still operational gristmill is located along the boardwalk.
Features include swimming, picnic tables/grills, hiking trail, swimming dock/pier, restrooms, showers, campsites with electric and water. Campsites are available on a first come basis. No pets allowed.
Directions: Krul is located ½ mile east of Munson north of Highway 4.
Pitcher plant bog at Blackwater River State Forest. A sign of a well managed forest with prescribed burns. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
Bear Lake is a 107-acre artificial impoundment located on Bear Creek. Maximum depth is 23 feet, with an average depth of 8 feet. A dam was constructed in 1959 and first opened to fishing in the spring of 1961.
Bear Lake has electric and non-electric campsites with several hiking trails nearby. The Sweetwater Trail, 1.3 miles in length, connects Bear Lake to Krul Recreation Area. The
Bear Lake Loop Trail encircles the lake and is 4 miles long. The Bear Lake-Jackson Connector Trail connects Bear Lake Loop Trail to the Jackson Trail. It is 2 miles in length. A mountain bike trail also encircles the lake and is 6 miles in length. The campground has a dining hall with kitchen available by reservation only. All other sites are on a first come first served basis. No swimming is allowed, alligators are present.
A view of Bear Lake. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
Other features include picnic tables/grills, fishing, boat ramps, restrooms, showers, campsites with electric and water. Campsites are available on a first come basis. Leashed pets allowed. Dining facility (reservations required). Call (850) 957-6140.
Hurricane Lake: Hurricane Lake is a 318-acre man-made lake located on Hurricane Creek. The lake has a maximum depth of 25 feet, with an average depth of 7 feet. Hurricane Lake was constructed in 1971 and opened for fishing in 1973. It has two improved recreation areas located on the north and south sides of the lake. North Hurricane campground has a primitive youth camping area by reservation only. All other sites are on a first come first served basis. No swimming is allowed. Alligators are present.
Features include fishing, hiking trail, campsites with electricity and water, restrooms, showers picnic areas, boat ramp and primitive camping for youth camps. Leashed pets allowed. For more information, call (850) 957-6140.
Directions: These recreation areas may be reached from Hurricane Lake Road off of Highway 4. They are located approximately 7 miles north of Highway 4 in north Okaloosa County. There is access to the south side primitive campground from Kennedy Bridge Road and access to the north side campground via Beaver Creek Highway.
Karick Lake: Karick Lake Recreation is a 65-acre artificial impoundment on Deadfall Creek in northern Okaloosa County. It has a maximum depth of 18 feet at the dam and an average depth of 7 feet. A considerable amount of flooded timber provides fish habitat. The lake was constructed in 1965 and open to fishing in 1966.
Karick Lake has two camping areas; one on the north side and one on the south side of the lake. The east end of Jackson Trail starts at North Karick Lake. Camping at Karick Lake is first come first served except for the primitive youth camping area on the north side. The campgrounds are located east of county road 189 approximately 7.5 miles north of Baker. No swimming is allowed.
Features include picnic areas, canoeing, fishing, campsites with electricity and water, restrooms, showers, boat ramp, pier. Leashed pets allowed. For more information, call (850) 957-6140.
Bone Creek: Bone Creek is a Day Use area which includes a man-made pond with swimming area, dock, and picnic tables. Fishing is allowed in the lake except in the swimming area. Day Use Area hours are 7:00 am- 7:00 pm, April 1- September 15, and 7 a.m.- sunset, September 16- March 31.
Features include picnic areas, swimming, fishing, canoeing, restrooms, pier. No pets allowed.
Directions: Bone Creek Recreation Area is located above Holt, Florida. The entrance sign to Bone Creek is located on Highway 90.
Equestrian stables at Coldwater Creek Recreation Area in Blackwater River State Forest. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
Coldwater Recreation Area: The Coldwater Recreation Area, bordered to the north by Coldwater Creek, offers trails that take horseback riders through some of the most scenic woodlands in Florida. Opened in 1974, the facility has been a prized recreation area for bird dog and fox hound field trial participants and horseback riders. The forest around the campground is prescribed burned frequently to promote habitat for quail, red-cockaded woodpeckers, gopher tortoises, and other native species. Because of frequent burning, beautiful vistas are located throughout the area.
Features include equestrian trails, canoeing, swimming, picnic areas, horse stalls, campsites with electricity and water, restrooms, showers, and dining facility. Leashed pets allowed.
All horses must have proof of current negative Coggins test results when on state lands. ALL children under the age of 16 are required to wear a protective helmet while riding on state lands.
Reservations are required for the stables, dining facility and all campsites in this recreation area. For reservations call (850) 957-6161 weekdays between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Central Time.
For hunting purposes, Blackwater River State Forest is broken down into three wildlife management areas. The Blackwater WMA, the Blackwater Carr Unit, and Blackwater Hutton Unit are managed together with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Wildlife viewers, cyclists, horseback riders, paddlers and other nature lovers can find wild places to pursue their interests in addition to hunting and fishing.
Both hunting and non-hunting recreationists are encouraged to check FWC’s Wildlife Management Area web pages for Blackwater River State Forest:
On Saturday, June 8 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., District 4 Commissioner Sara Comander will be hosting a community clean-up day at Choctaw Beach Park on State Road 20 in the Choctaw Beach Community.
The Walton County Public Works Department will be providing dumpsters for Walton County residents to dump trash, yard debris, tires, appliances and other miscellaneous items. There will also be a crew and equipment to off-load heavy items.
In addition to providing a place for residents to bring their trash and other debris, there will also be separate recycling trailers on site to take in newspapers, glass, aluminum and other metals.
For this event, there will not be any dumping of hazardous wastes such as poisons, paint, gasoline or other flammables. There will be a separate hazardous waste disposal day scheduled at a later time.
Loggerhead tracks coming in and going out at the first nest of the 2013 season. Photo courtesy South Walton Turtle Watch.
The first loggerhead nest of the 2013 season was laid near Seagrove May 20, 2013. The nest was found by South Walton Turtle Watch volunteer Ann Stuart. Click here to learn more about our nesting sea turtles.
Time: 10 a.m.
Surf fishing is a popular sport along the beaches of Topsail Hill. This program will teach you what types of bait will work, what times of year certain fish can be caught, and common fish you can catch from the beach. Fishing gear is optional, the park has fishing gear. This program will take place at the Beach Access, park in the Day Use parking area and catch the 10 a.m. Tram to the beach. The program will take place once the 10:00am Tram arrives at the beach.
$6.00 entry admission per vehicle. 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::
Photo courtesy J.L. Castner, University of Florida
It’s that time of year again, and those nasty yellow flies are biting… here are some tips for armoring yourself
In Florida, the name “yellow fly” is used to describe about a dozen different species of yellow-bodied biting flies. “Yellow flies” readily attack humans and are usually abundant in Florida with peak annoyance occurring in May and June. “Yellow flies” are in the family known as Tabanidae. All tabanids go through an egg, larva, pupa and adult stage, referred to as “complete metamorphosis,” the same development process that mosquitoes go through. Tabanids lay egg masses containing 50 to several hundred eggs. Most species deposit their eggs around ponds, streams or swamps on overhanging vegetation such as grasses or cattails.
Yellow flies congregate in shaded, humid areas on the edges of forests, rivers and creeks, avoiding large, open, sunny areas. Some species are active in the early morning while other species are more active in the late afternoon.
However, depending upon conditions such as heavy tree canopy, cloudy days or when an animal is moving through an area, yellow flies can become active and bothersome throughout the day. “Yellow flies” prefer to attack man about the head, neck or shoulders, however, any exposed part of the body may be attacked.
Their persistence to obtain a bloodmeal, once a host is found, can make 5 or 6 flies unbearable. Sometimes the use of the old-fashioned fly swatter will give relief by taking out the few flies in an area.
What to do
A trapping method homeowners can use, which does not involve the use of pesticides, is called the “sticky black ball” trap. Basically it is a beach ball, (milk jugs work just as well and are easier to hang) painted black and coated with a sticky substance. The sticky substance is called Tangle-Trap and comes in a spray or liquid applicator. It can be found at local Ace Hardware stores.
These devices are hung from a tree limb using string, in a shaded area, about 4 feet above the ground. Movement of the ball by the wind attracts the flies, thinking it is an animal, they land, get stuck, and die on the ball. Several of these balls will reduce the local adult populations.
South Walton Mosquito Control District will provide a ball and instructions so residents can make more if he or she feels they are effective for their situation. For more information, call (850) 267-2112.
You can also create your own “ball” using a milk jug, spray paint it a dark color and apply a sticky substance.
By removing underbrush around a residence, helps to eliminate resting sites for the flies and increases light levels making the area less attractive.
Bite and sting relief
Here is a general purpose sting relief for yellow flies. It is also helpful for mosquito, chigger and jellyfish bites.
1 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup ammonia (Windex is mostly ammonia)
1/3 tsp. papain (meat tenderizer)
1 crushed aspirin
Mix thoroughly and store in refrigerator (be sure to label container). When needed, shake well and apply with cotton swab, and rub briskly.
Personal protective measures include the use of repellants containing DEET (diethyl metatoluamide) applied to exposed skin. Wearing physical barriers such as a head net, long sleeve shirts and long pants are effective protection if you must be out in areas where “yellow fly” populations are high. Permethrin containing products labeled for application to clothing only, can also be effective in repelling and killing “yellow flies”. Thankfully, “yellow fly” season is relatively short, one maybe two months, and then mosquitoes become our major pest.
Information courtesy South Walton Mosquito Control.
Other methods locals have used with some success: Witchazel, Preparation H with aloe if put on bite immediately helps relieve itching and swelling, Cortisone cream.
Check comments below for reader contributions and suggestions.
The community of Seaside is now offering valet service during the busy summer months.
PM Valet will park Seaside customers’ vehicles for them. Visitors will be able to drive into Central Square and park on their own or have someone park their car. The valet service option will allow visitors to spend less time parking when wanting to dine or shop during peak times.
A valet podium will be centrally located in front of the ATM Kiosk in Central Square near The Art of Simple and Sundog Books. Visitors choosing to use the valet service will receive two hours complimentary with a validated ticket and a merchant receipt. With no validation, the fee is $5.00 per vehicle for the first two hours and $5.00 every two hours thereafter.
Valet services will be offered on the following dates:
· Memorial Day, May 24-27, and 4th of July week, July 4-7
· Each Wednesday in June, July and the first two Wednesdays in August
· Each weekend in June and July (Friday-Sunday) and the first two weekends in August
Valet services will operate at the following times:
· Wednesday-Thursday, 8 a.m. – 11 p.m.
· Friday-Sunday, 8 a.m. – Midnight
· Holidays, 8 a.m. – Midnight
Seaside will also offer extended seasonal hours, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. for dining and shopping beginning Memorial Day weekend through August 15.
Seaside’s aim is to provide an inviting experience for their guests.
Part-time South Walton resident and nature lover, Ginger Sinton has penned a colorful book on Walton County’s beautiful coastal dune lakes.
The area’s rare coastal dune lakes are 15 dynamic, geological treasures. The full-color, 112-page, softbound photo book reveals the beauty and rarity of the lakes and surrounding communities along the Scenic Highway 30A area. Author and photographer Ginger Jackson Sinton explores the beauty of the lakes and the diversity of their ecosystems. With an eye for nature and the environment, she weaves personal anecdotes throughout the photo guidebook. A “Sense of Home” in the subtitle is twofold: habitats of native plants and animals and her own fondness for the colorful locale along the Gulf Coast.
“I am excited to spread the word about the biodiversity of the area and share the photos with folks who are interested in our 15 little treasures. My book simply presents the lakes in a way that, hopefully, will enhance the appreciation of them and the surrounding flora and fauna,” said Sinton.
Author Ginger Sinton.
Rare Coastal Dune Lakes: Biodiversity and a Sense of Home can be found at bookstores and shops along 30A, including Sundog Books, The Hidden Lantern, The Blue Giraffe, and Grayt Grounds at Monet Monet. You may also purchase online at: www.dunelakespress.ecrater.com/
Sinton will be hosting book signings during the 2013 Memorial Day Weekend:
Friday, May 24, 10 a.m. -12 Noon – The Hidden Lantern, Rosemary Beach
Sunday, May 26, 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Sundog Books – Seaside
Monday, May 27, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at The Blue Giraffe – WaterColor Resort