Guided nature walk at Grayton Beach State Park July 9

graytonbeachstateparkduneDate/time: Wednesday July 8th at 3 p.m.

Park Ranger Charlie will be leading a guided nature walk along the parks dune nature trail. Come learn about coastal dune lakes, the flora and fauna that call the dunes home, and see the most photographed spot on 30-A. Participants will meet at the lakeside pavilion on the east end of the beach parking area. Appropriate clothing, closed toe shoes, drinking water is required. Insect repellant, sun screen, and hat is suggested. This program will take approximately 1 hour.

Directions: Grayton Beach State Park is located South of U.S. 98 approximately halfway between Panama City Beach and Destin. Take County Road 283 south of U.S. 98, turn left at the stop sign on 30A. Approximately a 1/4 mile east of the intersection of County Road 30A and County Road 283 the entrance is on the right.

Contact: (850) 267-8300 for more information. All programs are subject to change. Outside programs will be cancelled during severe weather/rain.

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Take 10 lionfish, get an extra lobster during sport season

spinylobsterAt its June meeting in Sarasota, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a new and exciting opportunity that will encourage divers to remove invasive lionfish by allowing them to take one extra spiny lobster each day during the two-day sport season this summer (July 29-30) that they also harvest 10 lionfish.

In addition, people can take a photo of their lionfish and lobster catch during the two-day season and post it on Facebook.com/LionfishReefRangers to get a “Be the Predator” T-shirt. One lucky photo entrant will also win a lifetime saltwater fishing license via a drawing held shortly after the sport season.

“The FWC operates in a culture of innovation. Opportunities like this are a great way to get divers who are already in the water accustomed to removing lionfish,” said Commissioner Brian Yablonski. “Our hope is that once lobster divers realize how easy it is to remove lionfish, they will continue to do so throughout the regular lobster season and beyond.”

Lionfish are invasive species that have a potential negative impact on Florida’s native wildlife and habitat. With no predators or other mechanisms such as disease or parasites keeping the lionfish population under control in Florida at this time, harvest by divers is the primary means of lionfish removal.

For the 2015 spiny lobster sport season only, divers will be allowed a single spiny lobster over the bag limit per dayfor each day that they also harvest 10 or more lionfish. Lionfish must be kept as proof of harvest while on the water. When off the water, a photo of harvesters with their 10 lionfish must be kept to document eligibility for harvesting an extra lobster. Lionfish must be harvested the same day and prior to taking the additional lobster. All other rules, including no spearfishing zones, apply.

The two-day spiny lobster recreational sport season (also known as mini-season) falls on the last Wednesday and Thursday of July each year before the Aug. 6 opening of the regular season. During this two-day season, the regular bag limit is six spiny lobster in state and federal waters of Biscayne National Park waters and off Monroe County, and 12 spiny lobster elsewhere. There is no bag limit for lionfish; harvesters can take as many as they want.

If the program is successful at encouraging lionfish removal, it could be continued in future years.

For more information, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and select “Commission Meetings” then the “Agenda.” For information about recreational spiny lobster, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational” and “Lobster.”

Help the FWC by reporting all lionfish catches and sightings via the Report Florida Lionfish app or at MyFWC.com/Lionfish.

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Movie, food, and fun at Camp Helen State Park July 1

EDIT_FINAL_Camp Helen Movies_flierDate/time: July 1, 5:30 p.m.

Camp Helen State Park is offering a summer full of movies, food and fun with a series of family-oriented movies, interpretive programs, and old-fashioned campfire cookouts.

On Wednesday, July 1, “The Bee Movie” will be the featured film. In this film, new college graduate Barry B. Benson doesn’t like his career choice of making honey. On a special trip outside the hive, Barry’s life is saved by Vanessa, a human florist in New York City. (Rated PG). The interpretive program topic will be going on a bug hunt presented the University of Florida Extension Office.

The evening will start at 5:30 p.m. in the Recreation Hall with a brief interpretive program led by Florida Park Rangers or other experts. 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.

These special movie nights are sponsored by Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, Camping World, and the Friends of Camp Helen State Park. Admission into the park is free, although donations are accepted. Donations will go directly to the Friends of Camp Helen State Park to benefit the park’s resource management projects and interpretive programs.

Driving Directions
Camp Helen is located at 23937 Panama City Beach Parkway, Panama City Beach, FL, just west of the Phillips Inlet bridge on the Bay County and Walton county line. The entrance is south of U.S. Hwy 98. ::MAP::

More information is available at www.friendsofcamphelen.org, facebook.com/FriendsOfCampHelenStatePark, by calling (850) 233-5059, or by emailing [email protected].

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Walton county fishing report for June 24

 

redfishFishing is good!

Bay: Consistent amount of redfish being caught along with a few speckled trout.

River: Catfish are biting, along with a mixed bag.

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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Florida First Lady visits Topsail Hill Preserve State Park for Summer Literacy event

annescotttopsail2sm

Florida First Lady Ann Scott reads ‘The Day the Crayons Quit’ to children at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park June 24, 2015. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park had a special guest on June 24, 2015. Florida First Lady, Ann Scott visited the park to encourage young readers to participate in the 2015 Summer Literacy Adventure.

Children from the 30A Learning Academy, Coastal Branch Library summer reading program, and kids staying in the park enjoyed learning the importance of picking up a book this summer.

The First Lady and the Florida Department of Education partnered with the Florida Lottery and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to promote the 2015 Summer Literacy Adventure. The Adventure is geared to help children stay on target, motivated and excited about reading and literacy.

Children from the 30A Learning Academy, Coastal Branch Library summer reading program, and kids staying in the park posed for a photo with Florida First Lady. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Children from the 30A Learning Academy, Coastal Branch Library summer reading program, and kids staying in the park posed for a photo with Florida First Lady. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

The morning kicked off with park services specialist, Fred Provost talking with the children and getting them ready for the First Lady’s visit. Assistant park manager George Royal spoke about the history of Topsail, its successes, and introduced Director of Florida Park Service Donald Forgione. Forgione spoke about reading, the partnership with the Department of Education, and then introduced First Lady Ann Scott.

The First Lady read ‘The Day the Crayons Quit’ shared photographs of the Governor’s mansion, her family, and their Labrador retriever. The kids were most impressed with a photograph of the Olympic size swimming pool at the mansion and asked several questions. The program ended with the kids receiving a goodie bag which included a book to read this summer.

Interested in finding a special book to read this summer? Find one geared towards your interest at: https://www.lexile.com/fab/fl/.

Learn more about the Summer Literacy Adventure at: http://www.fldoe.org/academics/standards/just-read-fl/. Students can fill out their Summer Literacy Adventure Pledge form at 2015 Summer Literacy Adventure. At the start of 2015 – 2016 academic year, First Lady Scott will visit the school whose students successfully completed the most pledges.

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South Walton Fire District offering free smoke alarms for seniors, disabled, and families in need

smoke alarmsSmoke alarms are a key part of a home fire escape plan. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast. Working smoke alarms give you early warning so you can get outside quickly.

Knowing that early detection is the key to survival, the South Walton Fire District Department Relations Committee (DRC) recently purchased smoke alarms in an effort to help reduce death, injuries and property damages caused by fire.

Through fundraising efforts the DRC was able to purchase $400 dollars worth of smoke alarms. These smoke alarms will be distributed to South Walton residents who are senior citizens, disabled, or families in need, at no charge. The belief that “smoke alarms work” is so strong, SWFD is also willing to assist with the installation of these if needed.

Remember, the life of a smoke detector is 10 years. If your detector is 10 years old or older, it should be replaced.

If you are in need of a smoke alarm or know someone that is please have them contact Fire Marshal Sammy Sanchez at 850-267-1298 or [email protected].

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Bay scallop season opens June 27

scallopSeason runs through Sept. 24

It’s that time of year again to unfurl the dive flag, put a mask on and head to the coast to collect some bay scallops. The recreational season is open in Gulf of Mexico state waters (shore to 9 nautical miles) from the Pasco-Hernando county line to the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County starting June 27. The season will remain open through Sept. 24, 2015 with the first day of the closure on Sept. 25.

The bag limit is two gallons of whole bay scallops or one pint of meat per person, per day, with a vessel limit of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops or a half-gallon of meat. Scallops may be collected by hand or with a landing or dip net.

Scallops cannot be taken ashore outside of the open area. There is no commercial harvest for bay scallops in Florida state and federal waters.

The average number of scallops observed during pre-season surveys doubled in Homosassa and St. Joseph Bay and increased slightly in Steinhatchee. The St. Marks average decreased substantially from June 2012, which was most likely due to effects from Tropical Storm Debby.

Be safe when diving for scallops. Be sure to stay within 300 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag when scalloping in open water and within 100 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag if on a river, inlet or navigation channel. Boat operators traveling within 300 feet of a divers-down flag in open water or 100 feet of one on a river, inlet or navigational channel must slow to idle speed.

scallop_zone_mapDone for the day? Help FWC’s scallop researchers by completing an online survey at http://svy.mk/bayscallops. Harvesters can indicate where they harvest scallops, how many they collect and how long it takes to harvest them. Participants can email [email protected] to ask questions or send additional information.

Learn more by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Bay Scallops.”

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Beginners fishing demonstration at Grayton Beach State Park July 1

fishing3Date/time Wednesday July 1st at 2 p.m.

Join our Park Ranger Evan for a beginners fishing demonstration. Learn about common baits, rigs, and tackle used in the local waters. Learn to identify common species found along the waters of Grayton Beach State Park. This is an all age program (adults must accompany any one under the age of 18). Participants will meet at the lakeside pavilion on the east end of the beach parking area. Appropriate clothing, closed toe shoes, drinking water is required. Insect repellant, sun screen, and hat is suggested. This program will take approximately 1 hour.

Directions: Grayton Beach State Park is located South of U.S. 98 approximately halfway between Panama City Beach and Destin. Take County Road 283 south of U.S. 98, turn left at the stop sign on 30A. Approximately a 1/4 mile east of the intersection of County Road 30A and County Road 283 the entrance is on the right.

Contact: (850) 267-8300 for more information. All programs are subject to change. Outside programs will be cancelled during severe weather/rain.

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Independence Day celebrations in Walton County

seasidegirlsEnjoy parades, fireworks, concerts and more in north or south Walton County this 4th of July.

North Walton:

DeFuniak Springs

4:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Enjoy a 4th of July celebration along Lake Defuniak. Parade starts at 4:30 p.m., then an Air Force flyover along with fireworks after dark.

Cash prizes and trophies will be awarded to the best floats. For more information call 850-830-1661 or to sign up for the parade call 850-892-3950.

Freeport

6 p.m. – Fun and live music by Hunter Phelps at Nick’s Seafood Restaurant at Basin Bayou.

South Walton:

Seaside 4th of July parade along Scenic Hwy. 30A

8 a.m. – Join your friends and neighbors for the annual July 4th Parade down Scenic Highway 30A and concluding in Seaside with even more fun.

The parade begins in Seagrove Beach and travels down 30A, ending in Seaside. After the parade, stick around for the awards presentation, face painting and fun with 30A Radio.

Call (850) 231-6107 or visit www.seasidefl.com/highlights/ to register. Parade starts at Seagrove Plaza, 3723 Scenic Hwy. 30A.

Grayton Beach parade 

8 a.m. – A traditional July 4th parade in Grayton Beach. Line up at the Red Bar starts at 8 a.m., with the parade starting at 8:30 a.m. Decorate your vehicles. No registration required. The parade will end at Grayton Coast Properties for watermelon and lemonade.

Baytowne Wharf fun and fireworks

6 – 10 p.m. – The Village of Baytowne Wharf will have a host of kids activities, including crafts, face painting, lawn games and inflatables. Enjoy live music by Soul Track Mind and fireworks over the lagoon at 9:15 pm. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.baytownewharf.com or call 850-267-8117.

Alys Beach concert and fireworks

6 – 9 p.m. – Celebrate the 4th of July at Alys Beach with live music by Compozitionz followed by fireworks. Piper’s will offer food and beverage. Free and open to the pubic.

Alys Beach Amphitheatre. Somerset Street Panama City Beach, FL 32413
Seaside – Pensacola Symphony and fireworks

7 p.m. – Pensacola Symphony Orchestra Pops performance followed by an unbelievable fireworks finale—an annual 4th of July Seaside tradition. Bring your own chair or blanket early, as space fills up quickly for this festive event.

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Rags to Riches Regatta July 4

Crews get ready to launch at Rags To Riches. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

The 19th Annual Rags to Riches Regatta is set for Sat., July 4, 2015 along Grayton Beach in South Walton. The race brings together Hobie 16 sailing enthusiasts in honor of Independence Day in a time honored tradition. Registration opens at 8 a.m. and skipper’s meeting starts at 11 a.m. Entry fee is $45 per boat.

The race will start and finish on the beach behind Red Bar in Grayton Beach, Florida, located just off Scenic Hwy 30-A in Walton County.

The 10-mile course is raced in the Gulf of Mexico, beginning with a Lemans-style beach launch and finishing with a beach landing back at the start point. Transport of boats to and from the race area will be available at the beach entry point for those without a Walton County Beach Permit at 7 a.m. Entry is for Hobie 16’s with captain and crew. Prizes will be awarded.

Established in 1981, Rags to Riches Regatta has long been a family-oriented event welcoming Hobie 16 sailors of all skill levels. For more information email [email protected].

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