Nature

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Washington County resident raises alligators in Orange Hill

When one transitions into retirement, typically it’s to enjoy relaxation time. Not so for Washington County resident Chris Ellis. After a career as a Florida Highway patrolman, Ellis took a leap of faith and made an unusual second career choice – raising alligators. For the last 20 years, Ellis’ Orange Hill Gator Farm has been raising alligators for exhibition across the Panhandle for locations such as Gulf World, Zoo World, and Alvin’s Island. With up to a few hundred gators...

Coastal Master Naturalist class offered in Walton and Okaloosa counties in Sept.

The University of Florida IFAS Extension Office is offering the Coastal Module class for the Florida Master Naturalist program September 6-30, 2019. Florida Master Naturalist Program students will increase their knowledge of Florida’s natural systems, of the plants and animals that depend upon those systems, and of the role of humankind in shaping our past, of determining our future, and as stewards of the land. The objective of the Florida Master Naturalist Program is to prepare persons to share their...

History tour at Camp Helen State Park Sept. 7

Enjoy a history tour of Camp Helen State Park from 10 – 11 a.m. on the first Saturday of the month. Park guests will have the opportunity to learn about how recreation has been a part of the park’s heritage for nearly 100 years. From the first hotel built along the bluffs overlooking Lake Powell in the 1920s, to Camp Helen’s hey-day between 1945 and 1987 as a recreation camp for employees of Avondale Textile Mills, our park has been...

Learn about snakes at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Aug. 16

Join Topsail Hill Preserve State Park and the Long Leaf Alliance on August 16, 2019 from 10 – 11 a.m. and learn about the snakes that call the park, Eglin Air Force Base and the Florida Panhandle home. 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 a.m. in the clubhouse. This program is free. Entry into the park is free...

Guided hike at Camp Helen State Park Aug. 29

Join the park ranger on the last Thursday of the month for a Ranger-led trail hike from 10 – 11 a.m. Camp Helen is home to over 3 1/2 miles of trails that meander through nine different distinct natural communities. A park ranger will lead the group on different sections of the trail for approximately 45 minutes, sharing about the natural and cultural history of Camp Helen State Park. All ages and fitness levels are welcome! Plan to meet in...

Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail updates published

TALLAHASSEE, Fla – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Greenways and Trails has recently updated its guide to all 26 segments of the 1,515-mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail. Florida’s longest non-motorized trail begins at Big Lagoon State Park in Pensacola and extends to Key West and then up the east coast to the Georgia state line. The changes made to to the 322-page guide include several changes in overnight accommodations, including Mexico Beach where one motel is set...

Williford Spring on Econfina Creek now open on weekends

July 3, 2019 – The Northwest Florida Water Management District has re-opened the Williford Spring recreation site beginning at 8 a.m. on July 4 for weekend-use only until repairs are completed. The recreation site has been closed since Hurricane Michael made landfall last October. The site sustained extensive damages from the storm. Only the parking lot, picnic pavilions, general recreation area at the spring, and restrooms will be open. The boardwalk leading to the canoe/kayak launch and the walking trails...

Guided plant stroll at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park July 15

Join Topsail Hill Preserve State Park and Master Gardener Bill Kuenstler on Mon., July 15 for a guided plant stroll from 9 – 11 a.m. Walk 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 and admission to the park is free until Labor Day weekend. Topsail Hill Preserve State Park...

New bridge crosses Alaqua Creek on the Florida Trail

The Florida Trail’s newest and longest suspension bridge has just been completed along Alaqua Creek in Walton County. The bridge is located on Eglin East section of the Florida Trail on Eglin Air Force Base Reservation. The bridge now provides a safe and easily accessible crossing over a flood-prone creek, opening up a particularly scenic section of trail to greater use by the outdoor community. Planning and construction of the 70-foot Alaqua “Demon” Bridge over Alaqua Creek has been an...

Nature Rocks day camps this summer at E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center

Join the Biophilia Center and The Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation for a summer camp that embodies the best of both worlds: science and the arts. This week-long immersive experience includes hands-on drumming and songwriting classes with renowned percussionist Zig Wajler of “Hands on With Zig,” wildlife-themed visual arts classes, interactive theater, and dynamic hands-on nature activities featuring live animal ambassadors. Nature Rocks day camp will be offered the week of 7/15/19 – 7/26/19. In addition, an animal themed camp will be...

Guided plant stroll at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park May 20

Join Topsail Hill Preserve State Park and Master Gardener Bill Kuenstler on Monday, May 20, 2019 from 9 – 11 a.m. for a guided plant stroll.  Take a stroll through the park and the campground to explore the plants visible and to see what is in bloom. Due to the popularity of this program during the summer, it will continue this fall on the third Monday of the month. This program is free with regular park admission.  A $6.00 entry admission...