Environment

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Health advisory issued for Grady Brown Park

Walton County – 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...

Point Washington State Forest closes roads due to vehicular road damage

SOUTHPORT, Fla. – Florida Forest Service employees are temporarily closing certain roads on Point Washington State Forest due to vehicular damage and illegal dumping.  These roads have degraded to a condition where management and conservation practices are negatively impacted. Local employees have noticed enhanced vehicular traffic since early Spring. This increased visitation has led to higher rates of vandalism and illegal activity.  Point Washington State Forest has experienced numerous incidents involving vehicle collisions, high-speed travel, property destruction, and ATV operation....

FWC approves draft rules for high-risk invasive reptiles including pythons, tegus and iguanas

At its July 2020 meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) unanimously approved staff recommendations to create new rules to address the importation, breeding and possession of high-risk reptiles. The FWC will host online stakeholder workshops to present proposed rule changes and collect public and industry comment on this topic. Staff will use these comments to help improve the final rule language, which will be brought before the Commission at a future meeting. Close coordination with stakeholders and the...

Health advisory issued for Morrison Springs

Walton County – The Health Advisory is issued on July 8, 2020, for Morrison Springs. The Advisory is issued based on the criteria for fecal indicator bacteria. This should be considered a potential health risk to the bathing public and swimming is not recommended. Samples taken are above the public health threshold for fecal indicator bacteria. Water quality exceedances are based upon the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommended standard of no more than 61 Enterococci CFU/100mL, or 235 E....

Fire weather warning issued for entire Panhandle

May 11, 2020 – SOUTHPORT, Fla. – The National Weather Service is issuing a Red Flag Warning for our area today. Critically low relative humidity percentages combined with sustained winds of 15 mph are predicted this afternoon. ‘These conditions, coupled with a lack of adequate rainfall, create an increased potential for wildfire activity. Any open fire will have the potential to escalate quickly causing catastrophic damage. Holmes and Washington counties have issued county wide burn bans in their local jurisdictions....

Know the law before you burn

Did you know escaped debris burning is one of the leading causes of wildfires in Florida? With the extremely dry weather upon us, burn bans are in effect across the Florida Panhandle. The Florida Forest Service administers Florida’s outdoor burning and forest fire laws, along with issuing the permits. For beach bonfire permits, contact South Walton Fire District at 850-267-1298. To learn more, click here. Each County’s Board of County Commissioners issues burn bans, so keep abreast of your local...

Holmes and Washington County issue burn bans

SOUTHPORT, Fla. May 8, 2020 –County commissioners from Holmes and Washington Counties have issued burn bans on all outdoor burning activities. These decisions were based on the forecasted weather conditions and current fire behavior experienced within the Florida Panhandle. All outdoor burning of yard trash, household paper products, bonfires, campfires, warming fires, outdoor fire places, chimneys, and cooking fires within said jurisdictions is prohibited unless: 1) authorized by the Florida Forest Service; or 2) for the cooking of food exclusively...

Yellow flies are back!

It’s that time of year again, and those nasty yellow flies are biting… here are some tips for armoring yourself In Florida, the name “yellow fly” is used to describe about a dozen different species of yellow-bodied biting flies. “Yellow flies” readily attack humans and are usually abundant in Florida with peak annoyance occurring in May and June. “Yellow flies” are in the family known as Tabanidae. All tabanids go through an egg, larva, pupa and adult stage, referred to...

Spanish moss flowers from spring to fall

Did you know Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is a flowering plant?  Spanish moss is a native, perennial epiphytic herb. It is not Spanish, nor a moss, but a flowering plant. The slender, wiry, long, branching stems (reaching 8m or more) grow as suspended, bluish-gray streamers and garlands draping among tree branches and sometimes telephone lines and fences. Spanish moss grows on trees in areas of high humidity. It can be found on live oak and pines that border estuaries, rivers,...

Florida caterpillars with a sting

The four major stinging caterpillars occurring in Florida are the Puss Caterpillar, Saddleback Caterpillar, IO Moth Caterpillar and Hag Caterpillar.  Some less common ones also occur in the state.  These caterpillars do not possess stingers, but have spines (nettling hairs) that are connected to poison glands.  Some people experience severe reaction to the poison released by the spines and require medical attention.  Others experience only an itching or burning sensation. Stinging caterpillar’s feed on many pants, but they seldom are present...

The legend of Euchee Indian Chief Sam Story

Could it be an Euchee (Yuchi) Indian chief named Sam Story was the earliest known conservationist in Walton county? Our history books tell us so, however some traditions handed down may be simply legends, and solidified as truth when shared through generations. So with that said, here is one story, through a collection of information, about a man named Sam Story. Historic documentation shows many of the earliest white settlers in Walton County were Scottish families from North and South...