Nature

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Ranger-led nature hike at Camp Helen State Park Aug. 6

Enjoy a ranger-led nature hike at Camp Helen State Park on Thursday, Aug. 6 from 10 – 11 a.m. You will access the user-friendly trail system, learning about the flora and fauna found within our park and the larger ecosystem of the Florida Panhandle. This hike is great for all experience levels and requires moderate endurance. Meet at the visitor center. The Oak Canopy and North Trails have a combination of paved, sand and packed-earth terrain. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes,...

The interesting life of a hickory horned devil

The hickory horned devil is a blue-green colored caterpillar, about the size of a large hot dog, covered in long black thorns.  They are often seen feeding on the leaves of deciduous forest trees, such as hickory, pecan, sweetgum, sumac and persimmon.  For about 35 days, the hickory horned devil continuously eats, getting bigger and bigger every day.  In late July to mid-August, they crawl down to the ground to search for a suitable location to burrow into the soil...

Williford, Pitt/Sylvan recreation sites re-open

June 17, 2020 – The Northwest Florida Water Management District has re-opened its recreation sites and camp sites previously closed by concerns from COVID-19. The list of openings includes Williford Spring and Pitt/Sylvan Spring springs day-use recreation sites. The sites at Williford and Pitt and Sylvan springs will resume normal operating hours (8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week). It also includes the following reservable camp sites: Rattlesnake Lake North (Econfina Creek Water Management Area) Sparkleberry Pond (Econfina...

Enjoy a ranger-led nature hike at Camp Helen State Park July 2

Enjoy a ranger-led nature hike at Camp Helen State Park on Thursday, July 2 from 10 – 11 a.m. You will access the user-friendly trail system, learning about the flora and fauna found within our park and the larger ecosystem of the Florida Panhandle. This hike is great for all experience levels and requires moderate endurance. Meet at the visitor center. The Oak Canopy and North Trails have a combination of paved, sand and packed-earth terrain. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes,...

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...