Safety First For All Festival Sept. 19

safetyhelmetTime: 9 – 11 a.m.

The Walton County Extension office along with Florida Health is hosting a Safety First For All Festival on Sept. 19, 2015. The event will be from 9 – 11 a.m. at Wee Care Park, 522 Walton Road, DeFuniak Springs.

The event will include The StoryWalk Project, bicycle helmet fittings, car seat checks and installations, fire truck and equipment display, water safety information, electrical safety display, personal protection information, children’s identifications kits, prizes, giveaways, and more.

For more information, contact Brandi Gill at (850) 892-8040 ext, 1136.

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Walton County fishing report for Aug. 26

redfishFishing is good!

Bay: Good trout and big redfish bites.

River: Good crappie fishing along with large mouth bass biting.

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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Freeport Bayfest Sept. 19

bafestlogoJoin in on the fun Saturday September 19, 2015 at the Freeport Bayfest at Freeport Regional Sports Complex. The event will be held from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Admission is $5.

Bayfest Festival includes a variety of live entertainment, Gumbo Cook-off, 5K Run, fishing tournament, antique car show, children’s zone, arts and crafts, and food vendors.

For more information call Judy Aultman (850) 835-1737 or (850) 974-1476 or Delores Walvatne (850) 1-251-234-1234. Gumbo Cook-off contacts: Donna Irwin (850) 685-6916 Eleanor Turner (850) 835-5611

For more information, go to:

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Nature benefits from prescribed practices at Grayton Beach and Deer Lake State Park

Rare white fringed orchid on the come back at Deer Lake State Park. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Rare white fringed orchid on the come back at Deer Lake State Park. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Many people wonder why prescribed burning is done in our area State parks. Before there were roads and developments, lightning-set fires frequently swept almost unimpeded across Northwest Florida’s landscape. Over thousands of years, many natural habitats have evolved under the influence of periodic fire – and are dependent on it.

Restoration and maintenance of such fire-dependent habitats now requires prescribed burning – the mimicking of lightning fires by carefully introducing fire according to detailed control plans called prescriptions. One of the many benefits is fire rejuvenates the forest floor, and nature as it was intended naturally.

Prescribed burning practices brings the forest back to its natural state. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Prescribed burning practices brings the forest back to its natural state. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

One ongoing success story that includes prescribed burns is a restoration project at Grayton Beach State Park and Deer Lake State Park. With burning, along with eradicating woody species that have suppressed proper wetland growth, the two parks are showing signs of enormous improvement. The long-term goal of the project is to bring the two parks back to their original ecological state. The prescribed practices will create an environment for flora such as carnivorous plants, and fauna such as the gopher tortoise to thrive.

The Grayton/Deer Lake project started with initial funding in 2011 for a pilot project funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2013, Department of Environmental Protection and Atlanta Botanical Garden began jointly pursuing larger scale funding from the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF). In 2014 those efforts secured separate awards to work jointly on a five-year restoration project to restore the degraded wetlands in the watershed of the coastal dune lakes in Deer Lake State Park. The project to date has restored approximately 30 acres. Rare plants thought long gone are coming back to life.

Pitcher plants and related bog species have been returning in numbers. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Pitcher plants and related bog species have been returning in numbers. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Rose pogonia, grass pinks, pitcher plants and related bog species have been returning in numbers. The rare white fringed orchid has reappeared, and reintroduced with assistance from Atlanta Botanical Garden (AGB). At Deer Lake, one restoration site went from a single white fringed orchid to more than 100 over three seasons. Other species such as pine lily and Curtiss sandgrass have been coming back as well.

“It’s a long term project, the results of which will benefit future generations,” said Matthew Allen, manager of Grayton Beach and Deer Lake State Parks.

Click here to learn more about Deer Lake State Park.

Click here to learn more about Grayton Beach State Park.


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Lake Powell clean up September 19

 Join in on the 2015 Ocean Conservancy International Coastal Clean up day Sept. 19 at Lake Powell in Panama City Beach. The event will be hosted by Lake Powell Community Alliance.

Meet at Lake Powell Park or Camp Helen State Park at 8 a.m. The event will last until 2 p.m.

If you are interested in learning more about volunteering opportunities on Lake Powell, call Emily Ellis with Lake Powell Community Alliance at 850-625-4140.

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Audubon walk at Conservation Park Sept. 12

birding2The Bay County Audubon will be hosting a bird walk at Conservation Park in Panama City Beach Sept. 12.  The walk will be from 7:30 – 9 a.m.
Enjoy a leisurely morning walk around the trails of the Panama City Beach Conservation Park guided by the Bay county Audubon.

Binoculars are available for these free events.  Meet at the trail head building by the parking lot. For more information call PCB Parks & recreation Dept. (850) 233-4413.

Conservation Park can be accessed just north of Back Beach Road (U.S. Hwy. 98) off of State Road 79, or off of Back Beach turning on to Griffin Blvd. ::MAP::

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Guided canoe and kayak tour of Campbell Lake Aug. 29

campbelllakesmDate/time: Sat., Aug. 29, 8:30 a.m.

The Friends of Topsail Hill Preserve State Park are leading a canoe and kayak tour of Campbell Lake on Saturday, Aug. 29.
The paddle will begin at 8:30 a.m., canoes and kayaks provided, as well as vests, and paddles. Must preregister by calling the park at (850) 267-8330.

Cost is $10 donation to the Friends.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is located at 7525 W. Scenic Highway 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459.  ::MAP::

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Choctawhatchee Audubon Society September events

CAScolorlogoSeptember 3: Monthly Meeting and Program

One of the finest nature photographers on the Gulf Coast, Jeff Waldorff, will present his exquisite visions of our beaches, birds and general environs at the next monthly meeting of the Choctawhatchee Audubon Society. His images of Black Skimmers are some of the best in the world, and his nocturnal beachscapes are gorgeously saturated and often ethereal. His slideshow should be of particular interest to anyone learning nature photography.

The meeting will be held in Room 130 of the new Student Services Building at Northwest Fla. State College main campus in Niceville. Socializing begins at 6:30 PM, and the program begins at 7:00. Admission is free and open to the interested public. Call Walt Spence at 850-582-7064 for more information.

September 19: Bird Walk at Swift Creek and Niceville Sprayfields

Join veteran local birder, Lenny Fenimore, for an exploration of Jason’s Trail in the Swift Creek area of Niceville, as well as a visit to the Niceville Spray-fields and Holding Ponds. See interesting ravine topography and also the birds of open meadows, including raptors and Wild Turkeys. Meet at 304 Piney Creek Cove in Swift Creek, Niceville, at 7:30 AM. Wear good walking/hiking shoes for steep creek-banks, and bring binoculars, water, bugspray, long pants and a hat. Ravine exploration may not be suitable for young children. Call Lenny at 850-863-2039 for more information.

September 26: Bird Walk to Fort. Walton Beach Holding Ponds and Okaloosa Landfill

Malcom Swan will lead a bird walk to the Ft. Walton Holding Ponds and Okaloosa Landfill. See one of the most productive birding areas in Okaloosa County with an expert. Expect to see shorebirds, ducks, wading birds, raptors, and possibly early Fall migrants. Bring binoculars, water, and insect repellent, and wear long pants, good walking shoes, and a hat. Meet at Pepitos Restaurant (formerly Coach and Four) on 1313 Lewis Turner Blvd. at 7:30 AM. Call Malcolm at 210-343-9082 for more information.

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Historical tour of Coffeen Nature Preserve Sept. 9

JB2 on launch track. Photo courtesy Coffeen Nature Preserve.

JB2 on launch track. Photo courtesy Coffeen Nature Preserve.

Time: 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.

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

Explore the Coffeen Nature Preserve and its history of World War II missile testing. The 220-acre Nature Preserve is owned by the Coffeen Land Trust, a local environmental non-profit organization dedicated to preserving it “as a place of peace and quiet and a haven for all God’s creatures.” Its history however is far from quiet. It was used as a secret missile test site by the Army Air Force during World War II. Hundreds of JB-2 “Buzz Bombs,” (the first pilotless, jet propelled missiles) were launched from the dunes into the Gulf of Mexico.

Join Susan Paladini, the Resident Manager, and explore the site where America’s strategic missile program began. You will view the original military photographs inside the “mess hall” and learn about the generous gift of the founder, the late Dorothy Coffeen. This will be followed by a hike of approximately 1½ miles around the property, which will include walking along two original missile launch ramps, stepping down into concrete launch bunkers and viewing other military buildings. Enjoy the natural beauty of the Preserve and Fuller Lake. This is the most western of Walton County’s globally rare and imperiled coastal dune lakes.

Participants are encouraged to wear a hat, sunscreen and insect repellant and to bring bottled water. Closed-toed or other suitable walking shoes are a must.

Space is limited to 16 participants. Minimum of 2 required.

Location: Coffeen Nature Preserve, Santa Rosa Beach

Fee: $20

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 by clicking the Eco Tours information box. Registration is available by phone at 850-200-4160.

Tour reference numbers: 9/9/2015 11271, 9/30/2015 11438, 10/14/2015 11439, 10/28/2015 11440, 11/11/2015 11441, 11/25/2015 11442


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FWC approves 70-day recreational red snapper season in Gulf state waters

redsnapperThe Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a 70-day recreational red snapper season for Gulf state waters at the April 16 meeting in Tallahassee. Red snapper is a popular species that has a strong economic impact for many coastal communities throughout Florida.

The 2015 season will start the Saturday before Memorial Day (May 23) and run through July 12, resume for all of Labor Day weekend (Sept. 5-7) and finish with Saturdays and Sundays throughout the rest of September and all of October, with the last day of harvest being Sunday, Nov. 1

The 2015 Gulf federal waters recreational red snapper season has not been set yet and will be announced later this spring by NOAA Fisheries.

For more information, visit and click on “The Commission” and “Commission Meetings.” For information on Gulf red snapper, visit and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Snapper.”


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