Environment

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Two conservation easements acquired by DEP in Walton County for longleaf pine habitat

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, in partnership with Nokuse Education Inc., has acquired two conservation easements totaling approximately 4,569 acres within the Seven Runs Creek Florida Forever Project in Walton County. These acquisitions will create an important conservation connection between Eglin Air Force Base and the Choctawhatchee Wildlife Management Area while providing opportunity for the ecological restoration of lands affected by tree-farming. With guidance from the Choctawhatchee Wildlife Management Area, the current landowner plans to harvest timber in...

Program on area water resources in DeFuniak Springs Jan. 8

Water, Water Everywhere, but from where does it come and where does it go? The Walton County Master Gardeners presents their popular lecture series event featuring Dr. Laura Tiu’s program about the area’s watershed. Laura is the Marine Science agent for Okaloosa and Walton County UF/IFAS – Extension. Please join the Walton Master Gardeners for a fascinating look into our area’s complex systems of fresh and saltwater. This program is free and open to the public on Wednesday, January 8,...

Bear education program at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Dec. 20

Join Topsail Hill Preserve State Park and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on December 20, 2019 from 10 – 11 a.m. Come learn about bears, the role they play in the ecosystem and how you can live “Bear-Wise.” Topsail Talks is a monthly educational discovery series with presentations from organizations and government agencies from outside the park on the third Friday of the month at 10 am in the clubhouse. This program is free with regular park admission....

Share your input on Gulf County 2020 bay scallop seasons at workshop Nov. 14

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) needs public input on the Gulf County (including St. Joseph Bay) bay scallop season dates for 2020 and future years. This area’s scallop population was negatively impacted by a red tide event in 2015. Since then, FWC has been working with the community to set seasons each year that balance scalloping opportunities with the continued recovery of the scallop population. The FWC has also been working with other communities to create long-term...

FWC cracking down on illegal harvesting of saw palmetto berries

An ongoing problem in Central and South Florida has now spanned across the Panhandle. The illegal harvesting of saw palmetto berries has been on the rise in several local state managed lands, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) law enforcement is cracking down. Each year, the FWC Division of Law Enforcement works targeted details statewide into the illegal harvest of saw palmetto berries, which are typically harvested between the months of August to October. The harvest of palmetto...

DEP designates Falling Waters State Park as State geological site

Designated State Geological Sites showcase Florida’s geological history and resources TALLAHASSEE – Oct. 24, 2019, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection designated Falling Waters State Park as the newest State Geological Site. Designated State Geological Sites are areas the Florida Geological Survey has determined to be significant to the scientific study and public understanding of geological history in Florida. Designated Geological Sites also provide opportunities to experience and learn about a site’s geological features, its connection to the local ecosystem, and...

Public meeting on planned Walton area prescribed burns at Eden Gardens State Park Nov. 14

Local agencies from Walton are inviting the public’s participation in a “town hall” meeting to discuss the annual prescribed burning program on public lands. Cooperating agencies include the Florida Forest Service, Florida Park Service, South Walton Fire District, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Atlanta Botanical Garden Organization and Walton County Emergency Management. Discussions will involve prescribed fire benefits, preparations and evaluations on local state forests and state parks. The meeting will be held Nov. 14 from 5:30 – 7...

Why are the water levels so high in the Choctawhatchee Bay?

Oct. 10, 2019 – For more than a week, many folks have been wondering why the water levels are so high in the Choctawhatchee Bay and surrounding estuaries. Walton Outdoors reached out to area scientists from Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance and Florida Sea Grant to seek answers. With the Choctawhatchee River water levels near historic low, inquiring minds wonder what is occurring. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the rising and falling of the sea is a phenomenon...

Health advisory issued for Bruce Creek and nearby wetland area in De Funiak Springs

Walton County, Sept. 27, 2018 – Due to an approximate 700,000-gallon raw sewage spill from a lift station malfunction, the Florida Department of Health in Walton County (DOH-Walton) is issuing an advisory for the following area in DeFuniak Springs: Bruce Creek and nearby wetland area at 785 South 2nd Street to south of Hwy 280 A, DeFuniak Springs, FL DOH-Walton advises against any water-related activities at the above location until bacteriological sampling reveals that the area is safe. Sewage from...

Florida, Alabama wildfire officials come together to warn of fire danger as dry weather persists

MILTON, Fla. – Officials with the Florida Forest Service and Alabama Forestry Commission are coming together to warn residents of both states of increasing danger of wildfires because of a continued lack of rainfall. It has been more than a month since most of Alabama and Northwest Florida have seen significant rainfall, and there is little to no relief in sight. “With the current weather patterns that we are experiencing, any outdoor burning has the potential for escaping and developing...

Health advisories issued for Eastern Lake and Inlet Beach accesses

The Florida Department of Health in Walton County (DOH-Walton) conducts regularly scheduled saltwater beach water quality monitoring at seven sites through the Healthy Beaches Monitoring Program. Samples are collected from March through the end of October. The water samples are analyzed for enteric bacteria (enterococci) that normally inhabit the intestinal tract of humans and animals, which may cause human disease, infections, or rashes. The presence of enteric bacteria is an indication of fecal pollution, which may come from storm water...

Learn about invaders of the Gulf at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Sept. 20

Join Topsail Hill Preserve State Park and Dr. Laura Tiu, a Florida Sea Grant Agent for UF/IFAS Extension Okaloosa/Walton Counties on September 20, 2019 from 10:00  – 11:00 a.m. Come learn about lion fish, microplastics, nutria and other non-native species in the Florida Panhandle and the Gulf of Mexico. This program is free with regular park admission. Driving Directions Located in Santa Rosa Beach, the park is located 1/4 south of U.S. Hwy 98 on western end of Scenic Hwy....