Big Plans For Deer Lake State Park
June 22, 2016 by Dotty Nist, DeFuniak Herald
State park personnel were in Walton County on June 7 to hear from the public about a 10-year plan under consideration for Deer Lake State Park in southeastern Walton County. About a dozen members of the public attended the meeting, which was held in the pavilion at Eden Gardens State Park.
Tyler Maldonado, park planner, spoke about the park and the plan. He noted that natural and cultural resources of the park were inventoried before asking the public what they would like to see included in the plan. Pressures on the park by the community are also analyzed as part of the process, Maldonado revealed.
He described the management goal as preservation of the park’s resources while providing for use by the public. Deer Lake State Park, Maldonado told the group, is about 2,000 acres in size and includes Deer Lake and the northern arm of Camp Creek Lake. Both are globally rare coastal dune lakes. The park is home to 15 natural communities, Maldonado detailed.
Located on CR-30A and with a beautiful quarter-mile dune walkover and half-mile beachfront, Deer Lake State Park may be thought of as a beach park. However, most of the park, about 1,900 acres, is located north of CR-30A.
One of the park’s north side natural communities, the wet prairie, is home to nine species of carnivorous plants, including pitcher plants.
With more than a dozen imperiled plant species, the park features an even greater number of imperiled animal species, most of those bird species.
Maldonado spoke of a balance between providing for public access and preserving the native communities, with activities in keeping with that preservation encouraged, including paddling, swimming, hiking and viewing wildlife. He told the group that more visitation to the park is expected with current area growth. He displayed a map of improvements included with the draft plan for the park.
In the day use/picnic area south of CR-30A, a paved parking lot is envisioned, along with a new picnic pavilion and bike rack. A conventional restroom to replace the current composting toilet is another part of the plan.
Currently park fees are taken by the honor system. Plans include a manned ranger station where fees would be collected.
Maldonado also discussed plans to expand the northern area trail system—currently a 1 1/2-mile loop—throughout the park, improve the trail for shared bicycle traffic, and provide interpretative displays. In conjunction with the trail expansion, multi-day trips connecting hikers and bikers with Point Washington State Forest and other parks in the vicinity would be encouraged.
Locations for primitive campsites in the northern portion would be identified, along with two volunteer campsites. Other north area plans include a trailhead with stabilized parking area, a bike rack, and a pedestrian crossing across CR-30A. Another facet of the draft plan is removal of approximately 120 acres of sand pines, which would be replaced with native longleaf pines. No additional vending is included in the plan, although off-site vendors are currently enlisted to set up chairs on the beach, according to Sine Murray, bureau chief for the Office of Park Planning.
Murray said that all public input on the plan so far had been positive.
“People tell us, we love this park!” she said.
The local advisory group for Deer Lake State Park reviewed the draft plan at a June 8 meeting, also held at Eden Gardens State Park.
Maldonado said the plan would be sent out for divisionwide review by Recreation and Parks, as well.
The 182-page draft plan for Deer Lake State Park may be viewed at httppublicpublicpublicpublicpublicpublicpublic://images/image-grid//p1am90hm711ln01t64k2uh39da.jpgimages/image-grid//p1am90hm71rcsb2o1jb8p391jae9.jpgimages/image-grid//p1am90hm711m0dtu74h614831kv08.jpgimages/image-grid//p1am90hm70t8l1rssnb2bhj1d1n7.jpgimages/image-grid//p1am90hm704uf1qbq19od0r4tl6.jpgimages/image-grid//p1am90hm701gn1v1dhr41kn81nhe5.jpgimages/image-grid//p1am90hm7042t1alejapk1f1s1p4.jpgwww.dep.state.fl.us/Parks/planning/files/DeerLake/DeerLake_DraftPlan.pdf.