Morrison springs health advisory lifted

healthdeptlogoAug. 23, 2016 – Effective immediately, the Florida Department of Health in Walton County is rescinding the August 10, 2016 health advisory for the Morrison Springs bathing place.

DOH Walton feels that water quality in this area has improved considerably due to the reduction in bacteria levels.

The Health Department will continue to monitor the water quality in this area monthly and routinely advise the public of our results.  For more information, contact the DOH Walton at 850-892-8021.

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9/11 remembrance ceremony in DeFuniak Springs Sept. 11

911memorialPlease join the Walton County Emergency Response community in remembering those lives lost on 9/11. There will be a 45 – 60 minute ceremony featuring speakers sharing their experiences on that fateful day as well as prayer and a 21 gun salute. After the ceremony, please join for a two lap walk around Lake DeFuniak commemorating Towers 1 and 2 that collapsed. The walk will be escorted by the Blue Knights and Red Knights motorcycle clubs and by the VFW Post #4437 Riders and followed by various emergency vehicles. If you don’t or can’t join us for the walk, please stand on the sidewalk and show us your support. A detailed agenda will be posted shortly.

The event will be held at the Lake DeFuniak amphitheater on Circle Drive in DeFuniak Springs.

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Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge looking for volunteers

An injured nighthawk at Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge.

An injured nighthawk at Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge.

Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge (ECWR) is the facility to call if you discover injured wildlife. For more than 20 years, ECWR has cared for a variety of animals – from injured pelicans, to infant raccoons.

Supported mostly through the donations of local residents and businesses, ECWR is also involved in education, conservation and rehabilitation of fauna.

Currently the refuge is in dire need for volunteers to help care for the animals, educate the public, and tend to their growing needs in fostering baby animals.

The ECWR is located on Okaloosa Island at 105 Santa Rosa Blvd
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548. To contact ECWR, call (850) 650.1880, or visit their website at

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International Coastal Clean Up Day Sept. 17

trashFind a location near you and help clean up our Northwest Florida waterways.

Blue Mountain Beach – Santa Rosa Beach

Surfrider Foundation’s Emerald Coast chapter invites you to participate in the world’s biggest beach cleanup – the International Coastal Cleanup. Last year, more than 800,000 volunteers around the word collected more than 18 million pounds of trash. Join us and protect what you love.

Surfriders will be meeting from 9 – 11 a.m. at the Blue Mountain Beach access in Santa Rosa Beach.

Lake Powell – Panama City Beach

The Lake Powell Community Alliance (LPCA) together with the St. Andrew Bay Resource Management Association (RMA), Friends of Camp Helen State Park, Bay County Audubon and local neighborhoods invite you to participate in a community effort to cleanup Lake Powell.  Sign-in will begin promptly at 8 a.m. on Saturday, September 17th at the Lake Powell Park [boat ramp behind Publix] or at Camp Helen State Park.  The cleanup will last until noon. After the cleanup, learn about conservation efforts of the LPCA, RMA (aka St. Andrew Bay Watch), Bay County Audubon, Turtle Watch and other groups at their ‘Eco-booths’ in Lake Powell Park.  Free t-shirts will be given to the first 75 volunteers to register! Participate in a ‘Chance Drawing’ to win some very nice prizes!

In our little corner of the earth, we have a very unique and precious resource.  LAKE POWELL was designated an Outstanding Florida Waterway in 1991. It is among the largest of the rare Coastal Dune Lakes which occur in only a few places around the world. Lake Powell is known for its beauty and biodiversity, as well as its exceptional recreational and educational opportunities.  The Lake Powell Community Alliance (LPCA) is dedicated to protecting this natural resource.

This is a great opportunity to bring our community together for a common cause!  Individuals and teams are welcome. Participants will be given a choice of areas to clean up with access by walking, wading, boating, or paddling. So JOIN the TEAM KEEP it CLEAN!

What to bring: closed-toed shoes, hat, sunscreen, ‘grabber’, work gloves, water, and snacks. Please consider bringing your boat, canoe, kayak or paddleboard and join the armada of cleanup crews. If you do bring your watercraft, please bring required life jackets, whistle, and safety devices.

Provided: vinyl gloves, garbage bags, data cards, coffee and donuts, water, and snacks.

8:00 – 9:00 am – Sign-in and orientation
9:00 – 12:00 noon – Lake cleanup
12:00 – Group photo
12:15 – Chance drawing

St. Andrews State Park- Panama City Beach

St. Andrews State Park and the Friends of St. Andrews State Park, Inc. will be hosting a coastal cleanup from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Join volunteers of all ages for this national celebration of public lands. Public Lands Day serves to recognize the importance of preserving precious natural resources through restoration and cleanup activities, while promoting environmental stewardship and awareness. Volunteers will assist this nationwide effort by cleaning up the Gulf and Bayside beaches, including Shell Island. Participants should bring sunscreen, re-usable water bottle, bug spray, and comfortable shoes. Join the effort by land or by sea. If scuba certified bring your dive gear and assist the efforts underwater.

Meet at the Jetties Pavilions or Boat Ramp Picnic Area.

St. Andrews State Park is located at 4607 State Park Lane, Panama City Beach, FL (map)

Lower Econfina Creek – Youngstown

The Florida Trail Panhandle Chapter will be hosting a clean up of the Lower Econfina Creek from 9 a.m. – 12 Noon.

Bring your own boat, or rent one at the Econfina Livery. We will paddle/float the Econfina from the Hwy 20 canoe launch, near Pitt Springs, and take out at the Hwy 388 bridge (approximately six miles). It’s about a three hour trip, and we will pick up as many cans and bottles as we can find. The person who collects the most will win an exciting prize! This will be a leisurely paddle, with some downed trees and snags to add excitement. Capsizing is a possibility, so be prepared with your required personal flotation device and a whistle.

Please bring drinking water, snacks/lunch, bug spray, sun screen, work gloves, pick up tools, and trash bags.

Meet at the Econfina Creek Canoe Launch, Hwy 20, Youngstown, FL (map)

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Hunter safety courses offered in August, September

fwclogo2007The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is offering free hunter safety courses in six counties in August and September. (List follows).

Students who have taken the online course and wish to complete the classroom portion must bring the online-completion report with them. Traditional course students must complete the entire course in person.

All firearms, ammunition and materials are provided free of charge. Students should bring a pen or pencil and paper. An adult must accompany children younger than 16 at all times.

Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975, must pass an approved hunter safety course and have a hunting license to hunt alone (unsupervised). The FWC course satisfies hunter-safety training requirements for all other states and Canadian provinces.

The locations and times are:

Online Completion Courses
Aug. 24 (6 to 10 p.m.) & Aug. 27 (7 to 10 a.m.)
Jay Community Center,
5259 Booker Lane in Jay

Escambia County
Aug. 23 (6 to 10 p.m.) & Aug. 27 (7 to 10 a.m.)
Molino Community Center,
6450 Highway 95A N. in Molino

Gadsden County
Sept. 3 (8 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
Talon Range,
550 Commerce Blvd. in Midway

Jackson County
Sept. 10 (8 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
Lily Pad Ranch and Hunt Club,
2224 Kent Cemetery Road in Alford

Liberty County
Aug. 27 (8 a.m. to 3 p.m.) OR
Sept. 10 (8 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
Woodmen of the World Camp,
22459 NE Woodman of the World Road in Hosford

Traditional Course (must complete all days)

Walton County
Sept. 10 (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) & Sept. 11 (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
Walton County Sportsman Association Inc.,
955 Smith Road in DeFuniak Springs

Those interested in attending a course can register online and obtain information about future hunter safety classes at or by calling the FWC’s regional office in Panama City at 850-265-3676.


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Giant barred owl decoy takes up residence on Clyde B. Wells Bridge

A giant owl decoy helps save roosting birds demise on the 331 bridge. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

A giant owl decoy helps save roosting birds demise on the 331 bridge. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Whooo is that owl and what is he doing on the bridge?

In mid-July Freeport resident Marilue Maris noticed something horrifying while driving over the Clyde B. Wells Bridge. Dozens of dead starlings were scatted across the northern span of the bridge. Worried, Maris reached out to Florida Audubon, Walton County Public Works, and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). FDOT took action and installed an owl decoy to help mitigate the precarious situation for the starlings.

Tanya Sanders Branton, public information specialist for FDOT explains –

In mid-July 2016 flocks of birds were noted roosting in large numbers on the existing Clyde B. Wells Bridge. The birds were primarily observed near where the existing bridge and the newly constructed bridge are closest together and of similar same height.

The birds were observed each morning at sunrise flying from the barrier wall across the travel lanes of the new bridge. Many were meeting their demise colliding with rush hour traffic.

Construction team members and district environmental personnel consulted regarding potential solutions. It was learned that the department has encountered similar problems with birds in other areas of the state. However, the mitigation measures used were designed for larger species, such as pelicans. While these measures have been effective for larger birds, they were deemed infeasible for the smaller birds at this location.

The contractor was initially asked to place a fabric drape over the barrier wall, in hopes that it would deter the birds from roosting so close to the new bridge and live travel lanes. This technique was unsuccessful and the early morning collisions continued.

Next, the team researched methods used to protect vegetable gardens from small birds. It was learned that placing decoy predators, such as owls, near gardens has been an effective, low-cost, low-tech measure.

A decoy was purchased at a local home and garden store and placed on the barrier wall of the Clyde B. Wells Bridge. Project personnel continued observing the location daily and noticed two things: (1) fewer birds roosted near the decoy; and, (2) moving the birds farther away from the new bridge resulted in fewer collisions with rush hour traffic.

“The birds still roost on the bridge,” reports project engineer Fred Brown, “but the predator decoy standing guard appears to have moved them further from the new bridge. Now when they fly at sunrise, they’re far enough from live traffic that they can gain enough altitude to fly above the danger.”

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Fall gardening workshop in DeFuniak Springs Aug. 30

Fall GardeningFall is a great time to grow cool-season vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, and collards. The University of Florida Extension Service is offering an educational program to help those interested in fall gardening. It will be held at the Defuniak Springs Public Library at 3 Circle Drive on August 30th from 1- 3 p.m. Topics covered will include garden planning and preparation, hydroponics, planting, vegetable varieties suited for growing conditions in north Florida, diseases and pest control, harvesting, and nutrition and cooking.

For more information or to register, please contact the Walton County Extension Office at (850) 892-8172 or the Agriculture Agent Evan Anderson at [email protected]. Free.

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