Environment

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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...

Gulf coast lupine blooms along South Walton area beaches

Beautiful blue shrub a welcomed sight In the springtime, sand dunes along the beaches in South Walton are dolloped with beautiful blue lupine. The gulf coast lupine (Lupinus westianus) is a native plant and endemic to Northwest Florida. Lupine habitats are sand hills, scrubs and coastal dunes. This particluar perennial shrub is only found in a few counties with Walton fortunate enough to be one of them. The beautiful blue flowers provide a delicate lavender-like scent. Early settlers to the...

Native American history program at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Aug. 17

Join Topsail Hill Preserve State Park and the Indian Temple Mound Museum on August 17, 2018 from 10 – 11 a.m. and learn about Native Americans who have called the Florida Panhandle home, and their way of life.  This program is free. Topsail Talks is a monthly educational discovery series with presentations from organizations and government agencies from outside the park. Participation Requirements Topsail Hill Preserve State Park sends out periodic emails regarding programs, events, news and volunteer opportunities. You can...

Florida water lecture at South Walton High School July 25

Safe Water for Walton is hosting TEDx speaker and renowned global environmental writer Cynthia Barnett on July 25. The event will be held at the South Walton High School Auditorium in Santa Rosa Beach starting with a reception at 5:30 p.m., lecture at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and must be purchased in advance here. Barnett will be speaking about: What is the history of water in Florida? What about those majestic freshwater springs that gush millions of gallons of...

Learn about prescribed fire at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park July 20

Join Topsail Hill Preserve State Park and the Florida Forest Service on July 20, 2018 from 10 – 11:00 a.m. to learn about prescribed fires and their benefits to the forest and surrounding ecosystems. This program is free with regular park admission. 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 10am in the clubhouse. Future dates and topics are “Native American History...

Health Department issues mosquito borne illnesses advisory

Walton County, Fla.—The Florida Department of Health in Walton County (DOH-Walton) today advised residents there has been an increase in mosquito-borne disease activity in areas of Walton County. Several sentinel chicken flocks have tested positive for West Nile virus infection in South Walton. The risk of transmission to humans has increased. South Walton County Mosquito Control, North Walton Mosquito Control and DOH-Walton continue surveillance and prevention efforts. DOH-Walton reminds residents and visitors to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and to...

Health advisory issued for Grayton Beach

The Florida Department of Health in Walton County (DOH-Walton) conducts regularly scheduled saltwater beach water quality monitoring at seven sites through the Healthy Beaches Monitoring Program. Samples are collected from March through the end of October. The water samples are analyzed for enteric bacteria (enterococci) that normally inhabit the intestinal tract of humans and animals, which may cause human disease, infections, or rashes. The presence of enteric bacteria is an indication of fecal pollution, which may come from storm water...