New park along Clyde B. Wells Bridge to be named after lifelong Walton county resident

May 21, 2015

An artist rendering of the Thomas Pilcher Park slated to open in the summer of 2016.
An artist rendering of the Thomas Pilcher Park slated to open in the summer of 2016.

Once the construction on U.S. Hwy. 331 is finished along the Clyde B. Wells Bridge, there will be a welcome enhancement to those that enjoy recreating along the Choctawhatchee Bay. A new park will be on the eastern side of the waterway that will boast a fishing pier, boat ramps, picnic areas, and restrooms.

The park will be named after Thomas Pilcher, a lifelong Walton county resident. Pilcher spent many years of his life working along the bay for the Florida Dept. of Conservation as boating safety officer, working search and rescue, and enforcing fishing regulations back in the 60s and 70s. He passed away in 2007.

Pilcher enjoyed working and spending time on the Choctawhatchee Bay and was a major influence in creating a deep boat ramp for vessels to launch along the causeway.

“It was quite a moving moment when I heard the news,” said Pilchers’ son Patrick. “My father was outspoken when it came to having good public access along the bay.”

“My dad assisted U.S. Fish and Wildlife in its effort to establish the initial striped bass stocking program on the Choctawhatchee. This, I believe, preceded the stocking program by the State of Florida many years later. He also monitored the numerous oyster beds planted throughout the Bay. These beds thrived for many years but have pretty much dwindled away” Patrick added.

The District Three Florida Department of Transportation says the conceptual park rendering is close to what the park will look like when completed. They note the concept is draft and subject to change. The park’s completion will coincide with the highway’s completion, slated for the summer of 2016.

Amenities of the park are:

  • 380 ft. wooden fishing pier
  • Four boat ramps
  • Six, 55 ft. docks along the boat ramps
  • Three 24’ x 24’ picnic shelters
  • Restrooms
  • Three fishing platforms
  • Scenic overlook
  • Parking for 21 boat trailers and 71 spaces for other vehicles
  • ADA access

Click here to see more details of the proposed plans.