Community workshop regarding beach accesses and potential change in future use of Topsail Hill Preserve State Park July 30

Terns along the beach at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Terns along the beach at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Date/time: July 30 at 6 p.m. – South Walton Courthouse Annex, 31 Coastal Center Blvd., Santa Rosa Beach, FL

The Walton County Tourist Development Council is proposing a public beach access within Topsail Hill Preserve State Park’s western boundaries. The proposed ¼ mile+ long boardwalk would be a pedestrian and bicycle access only with no parking or restroom facilities.

A public workshop will be held on this subject and other proposed accesses on July 30 at 6 p.m. at the South Walton courthouse. The Board of County Commissioners will be voting on whether or not to proceed with the proposed projects at the commissioner’s meeting on Aug. 12. Click here: Requestfromwaltoncounty to view initial request and initial feasibility study of proposed Topsail access.

Outfall at Morris Lake. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Outfall at Morris Lake. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

If you have ever been to Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, it’s easy to understand why it is celebrated as one of the Florida’s most favored recreation and preservation areas. Topsail contains 16 distinct natural communities, and is home to several threatened and endangered species such as the snowy plover, Choctawhatchee beach mouse, and gopher tortoise to name a few. It features wet prairies, scrub, pine flatwoods, marshes and cypress domes. More than three miles of crystal white quartz beaches await your enjoyment, along with five beautiful coastal dune lakes. In total, the preserve is 1,643 acres of natural wonder.

One must experience Topsail first hand to comprehend its incredible significance as an important place to conserve. The scent of rosemary, pines, salt air, stimulate your senses as you explore the many natural features of this extraordinary place. Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is the last of its kind; a precious jewel that hopefully will be left intact for future generations to enjoy. It is one of the last remaining natural examples of Real Florida.

Click here for Topsail Hill Preserve’s Unit Management Plan.

Click here to learn more about exploring beautiful Topsail Hill Preserve State Park.

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Learn about endangered beach mice at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park July 23

 Date/time: Wednesday July 23rd, 3-4 p.m.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park presents a program on the endangered Choctawhatchee Beach Mouse. They live in a fragile habitat near the beach and only come out at night. Come learn what we to do monitor and protect this important species . Enter the park through the main gate and the staff will direct you to the park’s clubhouse.

A $6.00 entry admission per vehicle into the park. 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::

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Abrakadoodle Art Education hosts All About Owls at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center Aug. 6

eowilsonbiophiliaTime: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Abrakadoodle Art Education for kids is hosting summer day camps at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center. On Wed., Aug. 6, have a hoot with the Biophilia feathered friends, and learn all about how these creatures eat by dissecting an owl pellet. Create an owl collage using paper, use air dry clay to mold your own special feathered friend, and paint an owl peeking out of a tree! Pack a snack, drinks, and lunch.

Cost is $45. Registration is at www.abrakadoodle.com/fl-northwest-register/

For more information, call (850) 835-1842. The E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center is located at 4956 State Hwy 20 East, Freeport, Florida 32439

 

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Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge comes to Henderson Beach State Park July 24

  Date: Thursday, July 24, 2014 11:30 a.m. – Noon

Henderson Beach State Park will host the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge staff and their animal ambassadors on Thursday, July 24. In addition to learning how the animals were rescued, you will learn what they eat, where they live, and how they survive in the wild.  Be sure to bring your camera for some great photo opportunities.

Fees:  Program included in the park admission fee. Call (850) 837-7550 for more information.

Directions:  Henderson Beach State Park is located in Okaloosa County, on Highway 98 just east of Destin.

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Learn about coastal critters at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park July 18

deerDate/time: Friday July 18th, 2014 – 2-3 p.m.

Topsail hill Preserve State park invites you to a hands on program where you will learn what type of creatures can be found in this area. You will get to see various bones, shells, seeds, and other things you can find on the beach and in the woods. This program includes both sea and land critters, and is fun for all ages. The park staff will direct you to the clubhouse where the program will be held.

A $6.00 entry admission per vehicle into the park. 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::

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Public workshop on proposed beach accesses including Topsail Hill Preserve State Park July 30

walton-county-logoInterested in learning about proposed beach accesses including one slated for Topsail Hill Preserve State Park?

Walton County will be hosting a public workshop on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. or soon thereafter, to present and discuss proposed new beach accesses including one at Topsail State Park.

South Walton Annex
31 Coastal Center Blvd
Santa Rosa Beach, FL

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Take a historical tour of Coffeen Nature Preserve July 30

JB2 on launch track. Photo courtesy Coffeen Nature Preserve. Time: 9:30-11:30 a.m.

Hosted by Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, Discover Roads Less Traveled eco-tours will introduce you to some very special places in South Walton.

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. No minimum.

Location: Coffeen Nature Preserve, Santa Rosa Beach

Fee: $20

Call now to register. 850-200-4160. Have your credit card ready and reference number May 28 – Ref# 90583, June 11 – Ref# 91958, June 25 – Ref# 91959, July 16 – Ref# 91960, July 30 – Ref# 91961

CANCELLATION & REFUND POLICY:
All events subject to cancellation. In the case of inclement weather, registrants will be notified by email or phone the afternoon/evening prior, and fees will be fully refunded.

Individual cancellations will be accepted and fully refunded up to 1 full business day (24 hours) prior to the tour. No-shows forfeit entire payment.
CBAecoadventures

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Freeport resident restoring historic home

The old McCaskill/Brown home in Freeport about to get some TLC. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

The old McCaskill/Brown home in Freeport about to get some TLC. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

A historic home in Freeport will soon be brought back to life after many years of neglect.

Local resident, and new owner of the home, Kevin Bloom has big plans for the Queen Anne style home built in the late 1800s. Bloom drove by the deteriorating home located on North Street many times over the years, never giving it a second look. That is, until one day he spotted it up for auction online. He called his realtor and was able to take a quick look at the house just before it went to bidding, and made an offer after viewing what appeared to be a structurally sound building.

“A pig in the poke,” Bloom said.

Bloom bought the home without any encouragement from friends. It had 29 broken windows and needed a new roof immediately to prevent any further deterioration. With those tasks done, Bloom is replacing floorboards on the porches and will be gradually working on restoring the building to as close to its original condition as possible.

Ina Mae Garrett recalls living in the historic Freeport home. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Ina Mae Garrett recalls living in the historic Freeport home. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

The home was built by Finley McCaskill, a local merchant and father of R.E.L. McCaskill. R.E.L. later occupied the house when he established a lumber mill operation. He purchased the house from L.S. Flourney in 1901 according to Florida Preservation Services ‘Choctawhatchee Bay Survey,’ publication. According to a Bayou Times 1975 newspaper article, the home was built by Alex McCaskill.

The home was fitted out as a hotel that opened in 1915. Marion and Pearlie Brown purchased the house in 1924. Marion was a tugboat captain between Freeport, Point Washington, Fort Walton, and Pensacola. Both Marion and Pearlie worked together hauling rosin from the turpentine mills via the Choctawhatchee Bay.

Ina Mae Garrett shares photo of historic home in its glory days. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Ina Mae Garrett shares photo of historic home in its glory days. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

 

One of Marion and Pearlie’s daughters, Ina Mae (Brown) Garrett recalls living in the old home. Now 94, and still living in Freeport, Ina moved into the house with her parents and siblings when she was four-years-old.

“My father had a sailboat and a launch boat. One day he came home from Pensacola with used furniture for the home. Mother wasn’t happy about that,” Ina recalled.

Ina said her mother was determined to get new furniture as soon as they had the money.

The stately home is located on 2.1 acres across from Murphy Oil near the Four Mile Creek boat ramp. It boasts an out building as well, previously used as a schoolhouse and doctor’s office in the once busy commerce area.

When Bloom acquired ownership of the home all the furniture and most fixtures were long gone. He did manage to find the original claw foot tub and has been able to purchase. Much of the interior’s architectural complements are still intact.

Some folks say there is a ghost that resides at the home, Sally Mathis, an elderly woman who watches over the residence and its occupants. No one knows who she is, but perhaps Sally has been keeping a watchful eye on this grand home all along.

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Ranger program, cookout and a movie at Camp Helen State Park July 23

lodgeCamp Helen State Park is offering a movie, food, and fun with a family-oriented movie, environmental interpretive program, and old-fashioned campfire cookout.

The event will start at 5:30 p.m. in the recreation hall with an interpretive program led by a Florida Park ranger. 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.

On July 23, “Shark Tale” will be featured.  In this film, a gangster shark boss’s son is accidently killed while on the hunt.  His would-be prey and his vegetarian brother both decide to use the incident to their own advantage. (Rated PG)  The interpretive program topic will be on Jellyfish.

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

Camp Helen State Park is located at 23937 Panama City Beach Parkway, Panama City Beach, Florida 32413. Phone: 850–233–5059 :: MAP::

Click here to learn more about Camp Helen State Park.

More information is available at facebook.com/FriendsOfCampHelenStatePark, by calling (850) 233-5059, or by emailing CampHelenFriends@gmail.com.

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Enjoy a guided canoe/kayak tour of the Chain of lakes on the Choctawhatchee River July 25

    Cypress trees tower above as you paddle the Chain of Lakes.

Cypress trees tower above as you paddle the Chain of Lakes.

Time: 9 – 11:30 a.m.

Hosted by Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, Discover Roads Less Traveled eco-tours will introduce you to some very special places in South Walton.

Meeting location: Northwest Florida State College South College, 109 South Greenway Trail, Santa Rosa Beach. Vehicle caravan to event location.

Chain of Lakes is a beautiful slough off the Choctawhatchee River on the East side near the SR20 bridge. Ecology is similar to the Choctawhatchee River, but without strong currents. Birding opportunities are common, and the scenery is stunning. Discussions will vary, but recent local history, Native American history, history of the Choctawhatchee River as a commerce route and natural history of the area are fair game.

Moderate exertion level, depending on wind conditions. Participants are asked to bring at least one quart of water per person, forecast-compatible clothing and personal comfort items (i.e. sunscreen, bug spray, etc.).

There is a small parking fee ($3 cash) at the put-in location. Carpooling recommended.

Personal craft recommended, but rentals can be arranged. Fee is $45 if you bring your own canoe/kayak; $60 includes craft rental.

Space is limited to 8 participants. Minimum of 4. Leader: Karl Renelt

Fee: $60 w rental / $45 without

Call now to register at 850-200-4160. Have your credit card ready and reference number including canoe/kayak rental ($60) - Ref# 91935
BYO canoe/kayak ($45) - Ref# 91934

CANCELLATION & REFUND POLICY:
All events subject to cancellation. In the case of inclement weather, registrants will be notified by email or phone the afternoon/evening prior, and fees will be fully refunded.
CBAecoadventures

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