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Panhandle area Florida State Parks continue to reopen for day use

May 9, 2020 – The Florida State Parks in the Panhandle area are continuing to reopen with limited use. Topsail Hill Preserve State Park has opened for day use only. It will be for 50% capacity and there will be no tram service to the beach. The park will close once 50% capacity is met. To protect the health of the staff and volunteers only exact change or credit cards will be taken at the ranger station. No change will...

Northwest Florida Water Management District reopens some day use recreation sites

The Northwest Florida Water Management District is re-opening most of its day-use recreation sites beginning Monday, May 4, 2020. The sites had been closed in accordance with Executive Order 20-91 issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis last month. Visitors to the day-use recreation sites must adhere to CDC guidelines on social distancing and group size. Recreation facilities at the Pitt/Sylvan and Williford spring recreation sites along Econfina Creek and Cypress Spring along Holmes Creek will remain closed. The Pipes and Fillingim...

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...

A guide to Florida snakes

Knowledge is power when sharing the outdoors with these interesting reptiles Florida has an abundance of wildlife, including a wide variety of reptiles. Snakes, and their cousins the alligators, crocodiles, turtles and lizards, play an interesting and vital role in Florida’s complex ecology. Many people have an uncontrollable fear of snakes. Perhaps because man is an animal who stands upright, he has developed a deep-rooted aversion to all crawling creatures. And, too, snakes long have been use in folklore to...

Walton area recreation closures, opens

As of March 19, 2020 many area recreation sites have been temporarily closed due to the outbreak of COVID-19. It is difficult to keep up with all the changes, however here are a few closed areas: WALTON COUNTY BCC CLOSES BEACHES TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC; SHERIFF’S OFFICE CHARGED WITH ENFORCEMENT. Walton parks beyond the beach remain open March 19, 2020 WALTON COUNTY, Fla— A vote early Thursday morning has closed beaches to the general public in Walton County. At their...

Registration for Camp Longleaf is now open

Camp Longleaf is an extension of the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center in Freeport. This summer, Camp Longleaf is offering weeklong, overnight camp sessions for girls and a special two-night father and son retreat event. Head over to Camp Longleaf’s website to learn more information and/or to register online here. Camp Longleaf is also looking for female camp counselors. If you, or someone you know, are interested in working as a counselor this summer, submit your application on their employment page. For any questions, please...

Guided plant stroll at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Feb. 17

Join Topsail Hill Preserve State Park and Master Gardener Bill Kuenstler on the third Monday of the month for a guided plant stroll. The event will be held on Mon., Feb. 17 from 9 – 11 a.m. Take a stroll through the park and the campground to explore the plants visible and to see what is in bloom. Please wear weather appropriate clothing and comfortable walking shoes as you’ll be walking on uneven terrain. This program is free with regular...

Williford, Pitt and Sylvan Springs Recreation areas now open seven days a week

Note: This is an updated story from Sept. 16, 2019. The Northwest Florida Water Management District has returned Williford Spring and Pitt/Sylvan Spring recreation sites to normal operating hours (7 days a week, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.). The boardwalk to the kayak/canoe launch at Williford have been repaired as well as the tube launch at Pitt/Sylvan Springs. The walking trails that connect Sylvan to Williford remain closed, but work is underway to clear those trails. Learn more about Williford...