On Thursday, October 30 at 6 p.m., District 1 Commissioner and Chairman Bill Chapman’s office will be hosting a public meeting at the Red Bay Community Center. This meeting will be in regard to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) proposed camping rule changes on the Choctawhatchee River Wildlife Management Area (WMA), in partnership with the Northwest Florida Water Management District (District).
In order to provide information to the public, representatives from the FWC and Northwest Florida Water Management District will be on hand to discuss a proposed change to camping rules in the WMA.
While there are no changes to the camping rules for most of the WMA, camping in specially designated campsites will be allowed by District permit only under the proposed rule change. This means that camping on a first-come, first-served basis will still be allowed throughout the WMA along the river banks, sandbars, and all other areas that are not within the designated campsites, unless the area is marked as “no camping.”
Designated campsites include popular improved recreation sites that can be easily accessed by vehicles, such as Dead River Landing and Lost Lake along the Choctawhatchee River WMA.
Campers can easily obtain a free permit to use a designated campsite by making a reservation with the District. The District recently launched an online camping reservation system that makes it easier and more convenient for users to find campsites, check availability, view alternative dates and make reservations to ensure that their desired site will be available when they arrive. Users can make a reservation online at www.nwfwater.com or by contacting the District at (850) 539-5999.
If approved by the FWC, the proposed rule change requiring reservations at the designated campsites would take effect July 1, 2015. The rules for camping at non-designated sites will remain as currently written, and include:
· In the remainder of the area (meaning non-designated campsites), camping is limited to 14 consecutive days and prohibited where posted as “no camping.”
· Camping is limited to tents, trailers, or self-propelled camping vehicles only. Kitchen stoves, refrigerators and freezers are prohibited, unless contained in mobile campers. Lumber, sheet metal or other building materials are prohibited.
After July 1, 2015, campers will be allowed to camp at the designated campsites with a reservation for a minimum of one night and a maximum of seven nights. Users are allowed to make two non-consecutive reservations at one time, (i.e., reservations cannot be for two back-to-back visits), and reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance. Users can visit reservations.nwfwater.net to view a list of Frequently Asked Questions about camping on District lands.
If you should have any questions about the meeting, please contact the District 1 Commission Office at 850-835-4860.