5K Family Hike at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center Sept. 24

biophilatrailThe E.O.Wilson Biophilia Center teams up with the Walton County Health Department for the Biophilia Center 5K Family Hike on Saturday, September 24th.

Gates open at 7:00 a.m. and last hikers must begin trail by 8:30 a.m. Registration from 7:00-8:00 a.m. First Hikers hit the trail at 8:00 a.m.
$5 per person or $20 per family.

Educational health programs and interactive exhibit area open for all those not joining in on the hike. Goodie bags handed out to all finishers. Snacks and drinks available for purchase.
*Sturdy shoes suggested as this is a scenic nature hike with uneven terrain.

E.O.Wilson Biophilia Center
4956 State Hwy 20 East
Freeport, Florida 32439

Tel: (850) 835-1824 – www.eowilsoncenter.org

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Walton County Health Department issues mosquito-borne illness advisory

healthdeptlogoThe Florida Department of Health in Walton County (DOH-Walton) is advising residents there has been an increase in mosquito-borne disease activity in Walton County.

Several sentinel chicken flocks have tested positive for West Nile virus infection. The risk of transmission to humans has increased. South Walton County Mosquito Control, North Walton Mosquito Control and DOH-Walton continue surveillance and prevention efforts.

The Health Department reminds residents and visitors to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and to take basic precautions to help limit exposure.

To protect yourself from mosquitoes, you should remember to “Drain and Cover”:

DRAIN standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying.
·       Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.
·       Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren’t being used.
·       Empty and clean birdbaths and pet’s water bowls at least once or twice a week.
·       Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don’t accumulate water.
·       Maintain swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.

COVER skin with clothing or repellent.

  • Clothing – Wear shoes, socks, and long pants and long-sleeves. This type of protection may be necessary for people who must work in areas where mosquitoes are present.
  • Repellent – Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing.
    • Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, and IR3535 are effective.
    • Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old.

Tips on Repellent Use

  • Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before you apply a repellent. Some repellents are not suitable for children.
  • Products with concentrations of up to 30 percent DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) are generally recommended. Other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellents contain picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or IR3535. These products are generally available at local pharmacies. Look for active ingredients to be listed on the product label.
  • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin, or onto clothing, but not under clothing.
  • In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is age-appropriate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under the age of three years. DEET is not recommended on children younger than two months old.
  • Avoid applying repellents to the hands of children. Adults should apply repellent first to their own hands and then transfer it to the child’s skin and clothing.
  • If additional protection is necessary, apply a permethrin repellent directly to your clothing. Again, always follow the manufacturer’s directions.

COVER doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house.

  • Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches, and patios.

The Department continues to conduct statewide surveillance for mosquito-borne illnesses, including West Nile virus infections, Eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, malaria, chikungunya and dengue. Residents of Florida are encouraged to report dead birds to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

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Choctawhatchee Audubon activities for October 2016

CAScolorlogoOct 6: Monthly Meeting: Presentation: “eBird: A tool for collecting, sharing, and discovering data on birds around the world.” Bruce Purdy, eBird reviewer, will present a primer on the use of eBird Mobile. eBird is part of a system developed by the Cornell Ornithological Lab at Cornell University.  You can use it on a smart phone to keep records of your own observations and to find out where you might find new birds or birding hotspots when traveling to a new city or region. You may want to go online and check it out before the meeting—it is cool!!!

The meeting will be held in room 130 of the student services building 400 at the Northwest Florida State College Niceville campus. Socializing begins at 6:30 PM and the program at 7:00 PM. Admission is free and open to the public. Call or e-mail Dr Don Baltz at 225 252-2760, [email protected] for more information

Oct 8: Bird Walk. Visit Fort Pickens Gulf Islands National Seashore led by local expert Alan Knothe. Meet at Uptown Station on Eglin Parkway at 7AM or the Langdon Battery Fort Pickens at 8:15. See migrating songbirds, shorebirds and raptors. Bring binoculars and wear closed toed shoes and long pants. Contact Alan at 850 208 1780 for details.

Oct 15: Nature Event: Explore the Outdoors Festival at Live Oak Landing in Freeport. Teach children how to identify birds and other wildlife using game cards and field guides. Check out the venues. Open from 10AM to 2 PM. Bring water, bug spray and a chair. Contact Lori Ceier at 850 267-2064 for details.

Oct 22: Bird Walk: Visit Veterans Park on Okaloosa Island by the Convention Center. Local expert Malcolm Mark Swan will lead you on a search for migrants, herons and waterfowl at one of the last remaining natural habitats on the Island. Contact Malcolm at 210 343-9082 and/or meet in the NE corner of the Convention Center Parking Lot at 7:30 AM. Wear closed toed shoes, long pants and bring binoculars and a camera.

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Fall Bay Day celebration at St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve Oct. 1

A view of St. Joseph Bay from a viewing tower at the St. Joe Bay Preserve visitor's center. Lori Ceier/Walton OutdoorsDate/time: Sat., Oct. 1, 2016 – 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. EST

Bay County Audubon Society and Friends of St. Joseph Bay Preserves present the opportunity to tour the Buffer and Aquatic Preserves and learn about birds and life along the bay. Guided tours of backwoods trails of the Buffer Preserve will be offered at 8:00 am, 9:30 am, 11:00 am, 12:30pm, and 2:00 ET. Our very own Ron Houser will be leading a birding trip!

Explore the Shore guided walk at 10 am ET. Shore Birds walk at the Cape will be at 8 am ET. An Aquatic Touch Tank will be presented by staff of the St. Joseph Bay Aquatic Preserve. Live music by Crossroads Bluegrass throughout the day. There will be a Low Country Shrimp Boil from 11:00am – 2:00pm ET, $10.00 donation. All other activities are free. Please arrive early for scheduled activities since some have limited space. See www.stjosephbaypreserves.org for schedule and information.

The St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve is located at 3915 Highway C-30, Port St. Joe, FL (map)

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Pumpkin Festival at Arnett’s Gulfside Trail Rides Oct. 22, 23, 29, 30

arnettspumpkinfestsmTime: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Enjoy family fun at Arnett’s Gulfside Trail rides this October on their 20-acre horse ranch. Activities include pumpkin sale, bounce houses, hay rids, kid’s crafts, pony rides, food and more.

Festival dates are Oct. 22nd, 23rd, 29th, and 30th.

Arnett’s Gulfside Trail Rides is located at 613 CR 393, Santa Rosa Beach. For more information, call 850-208-3114.

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Alaqua Animal Refuge unveils conceptual site plan for new facility

Phase I o new Alaqua Animal Refuge facility.

Phase I o new Alaqua Animal Refuge facility.

After countless hours of planning, Alaqua Animal Refuge unveiled Phase I of its new conceptual site plan. Located along State Highway 20 near the intersection of J. W. Hollington Road in Freeport, the beautiful property provides a perfect backdrop for what will become a one-of-a-kind animal facility and sanctuary, and the first of its kind anywhere in the United States.

Founded in 2007 by local resident Laurie Hood, the dream and vision for Alaqua Animal Refuge has always been to grow the shelter and expand its scope of animal welfare services to the community and beyond.

“From the very beginning, I wanted a place that would be different than traditional animal shelters. I wanted a place where happy animals would be surrounded by a pristine environment, making it peaceful to adopt and volunteer,” said Hood. “I wanted a place where animals of all sizes, shapes and kinds could heal and be provided shelter, safety and a second chance of life.”

Alaqua Animal Refuge is currently located on 10-acres of land on Whitfield Road, off Alaqua Creek in a major flood zone. This location became a key factor in the decision to ultimately begin to search for properties from which to relocate the Refuge, where the animals could be safe from the threat of hurricanes, heavy rain and flooding, and would also allow the Refuge an outlet to continue to forward their mission on a greater scale.

Hood’s dream was jump started by a generous gift of 85 acres from the late M.C. Davis and his wife Stella to aid in the organization’s permanent relocation, expansion, and long-term sustainability. An additional 15 acres were then purchased by funds given to Alaqua by a private donor. Together, these 100-acre parcels of land provide the peaceful, serene setting on which the new Refuge will be constructed.

Phase I of the new conceptual plan reflects a strategic site design that has been carefully created with public outreach, education, and streamlined animal care in mind—making Hood’s vision one step closer to becoming a reality.

The new development will feature an environment reminiscent of a close-knit community or small town, and elements include multiple pastures for horses and other animals; a state-of-the-art horse arena where events of all kinds can take place; an on-site restaurant and garden-like seating area; a chapel surrounded by woods for grieving families to have a place to hold memorial services for their pets; walking paths and trails; an expanded adoption center with a home-like environment; new animal and educational exhibits; and an advanced medical facility.

In conceptualizing the plans, Alaqua’s objective was to create a facility and sanctuary for animals, residents, and visitors alike. Onsite activities could entail weekend seminars on horse care or canine obedience; assisting local law enforcement with education and hands on examples of cruelty cases that will enable them to process their cases more effectively; and the expansion of Alaqua’s current programs such as their Equine Interactions Program and children’s educational programs to teach them to respect life in all forms. In addition, rustic cottages have been included as part of the overall design to provide a space for interns from veterinary schools to learn new skills, or for future sanctuary founders to experience what Alaqua has to offer. Alaqua’s ultimate goal is to become a destination for animal welfare advocates throughout the country and a model for the future of animal refuges.

The Alaqua conceptual plan was developed by a “dream team” of design, architecture, engineering, and consulting professionals that brought their forces together to bring Hood’s vision closer to reality. Designers and architects include Mark Schnell of Schnell Urban Design; Erik Vogt and Marieanne Khoury-Vogt of Khoury-Vogt Architects / Office of the Town Architect, Alys Beach; and Tony Vallee, of Anthony J. Vallee, Architect LLC. Engineers and land use consultants include: Cliff Knauer and Bill Menadier of Dewberry | Preble-Rish; Matt Aresco of Nokuse Plantation; and Jim Fowler, zoologist and former host of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. Bringing this vision to fruition is truly a community affair, as this powerhouse group of specialists have all given of their time and talents for an incredible organization doing great things.

No date has be set for groundbreaking on the facility.

“We do not know the timeline yet – lots of factors in play from County approval to construction timelines. We are planning on breaking ground on it all hopefully in January, 2017,” said Laurie Hood, founder.

About Alaqua Animal Refuge

Alaqua Animal Refuge is a no-kill animal sanctuary and adoption center located in Freeport, Florida. A member of the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, Alaqua believes that every abused, neglected and homeless animal deserves a second chance. This private, nonprofit animal sanctuary is committed to serving the Emerald Coast as: the premier no-kill refuge, providing protection, shelter and care to animals in need; a full-service animal adoption center; and a peaceful, proactive animal welfare advocate through educational outreach and community programs. The Refuge has placed more than 12,000 animals of all kinds since its inception in 2007, and has grown to become a recognized leader in animal welfare and animal cruelty prevention. www.alaquaanimalrefuge.org

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Corn maze, pumpkin patch and family fun at Cypress Cattle and Produce Farm in Ponce De Leon Sept. 24 – Oct. 31

A six-acre corn maze awaits at Cypress Cattle and Produce Farm. Photo courtesy Fred Provost.

A six-acre corn maze awaits at Cypress Cattle and Produce Farm. Photo courtesy Fred Provost.

Cypress Cattle and Produce Farm swings open their farm gate for some fall fun with a corn maze, pumpkin patch and an assortment of family activities from Sept. 24 – Oct. 31. The enjoyment includes more than 7-acres of pumpkins to choose from, a 6-acre corn maze, with more than 2 miles to navigate. There will also be tractor-pulled hayrides, farm animals, full food concessions and more. Enjoy a day of fall fun as you experience a working farm in Ponce De Leon on the Walton County line.

The Maze opens Saturday September 24th and will be open Fridays 2-8 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. throughout the month of October. Children 3 and under are free, youth tickets are required for kids 4 and up. General admission and season passes include unlimited maze access, lots of non-ticketed activities including the corn pond, mini-maze, hayride, bounce houses, access to pumpkin patch (pumpkins not included) and more! Pumpkin picking only does not require any admission. Tickets purchased online are good for any date during normal business hours, just pick your favorite weekend and come on out!

Kids pondering the corn maze at the entrance. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Kids pondering the corn maze at the entrance. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Click here for prices and tickets.

Take a tour
Tours of Cypress Cattle’s 1,100-acre working farm will take you through soybean fields, vegetable crops, cypress lakes and pastures. Stop under the live oak trees by the pond and enjoy your lunch. The tour will run every 45 minutes.

Pick a pumpkin
While you are at the farm, head out to the patch and pick your own pumpkin. Choose from giant pumpkins, Jack-o-Lanterns, green and whites, baby Jacks and gourds. Prices vary.

Pick your own pumpkin at Cypress Cattle and Produce Farm. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Pick your own pumpkin at Cypress Cattle and Produce Farm. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Halloween Bash at the barn Oct. 22
Things get a little frightfully fun on Oct. 22 at the farm. Head over to the Halloween Bash, haunted corn maze, and enjoy Luke Langford and the 331 South Band fire up some great country music from 6 – 10 p.m.

The events will be held at Cypress Cattle and Produce Farm at 2980 R. M. Ward Road, Ponce De Leon.


Visit www.cypresscattle.com for full schedule, details and ticket purchase.

For additional information call (850) 685-5890 visit their market at 16564 US 331s, Freeport, or email [email protected]

*Pre-season ticket sales will be fully refundable in the unlikely event (i.e. catastrophic weather) the maze cannot open.


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