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Discover Roads Less Traveled: Summer Eco Adventures in Walton County

June 25, 2015 by SoWal Staff

The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) of Northwest Florida State College announces the summer session of its award winning eco-tourism initiative, Discover Roads Less Traveled: Eco-Adventures of Walton County. Voted Best Outdoor Adventure in the 2015 Perfect in South Walton- Best of the Best list, the summer tour line-up falls nothing short. Don’t miss the chance to get outdoors this summer and explore!

Led by local experts and professional naturalists, Discover Roads Less Traveled offers visitors and local residents opportunities to explore, discover and experience the diverse natural resources that make Walton County so unique. “We hope that these tours will entice individuals to experience a new connection to the environment,” says CBA’s tour coordinator, Brandy Foley.

The summer eco-adventure schedule offers a range of activities for both tourists and locals alike. Take a guided historical tour through the pristine Coffeen Nature Preserve, paddle a rare coastal dune lake, or enjoy learning new techniques to fishing along Choctawhatchee Bay. Looking for something fun to do with the kids this summer? Take them on an educational evening tour with Nonie’s Ark Animal Eventures, offered at multiple locations throughout the season.



The Florida Pandhandle is one of the five richest biodiversity hotspots in North America. Walton County’s extraordinary ecosystems are home to numerous and unusual native plants and animals. Besides its white-sand beaches, the County boasts the Choctawhatchee River (Florida’s fourth largest in volume), Choctawhatchee Bay, many creeks and streams, and the extremely rare coastal dune lakes. Discover Roads Less Traveled will introduce you to some of these very special places.

For more information about the 2015 summer eco-adventure schedule, including individual tour descriptions, please visit www.basinalliance.org and click the “Eco-Tours” link. Registration is available by phone at 850-200-4160, or walk-in at the South Walton Campus of Northwest Florida State College at 109 Greenway Trail, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459. Prices vary, starting at $15.

CBA is an entirely grant and donor-funded, 501(c)3 non-profit watershed organization whose efforts are focused on raising awareness to increase the health and sustainability of local waterways, through monitoring, research, restoration and education. For over 19 years, CBA has promoted water stewardship within the Choctawhatchee watershed, growing the network of supporters who have joined in the mission to provide a future for these natural resources. For more information about CBA, please visit www.basinalliance.org.

For more information about Discover Roads Less Traveled, please contact Brandy Foley at 870-200-4163, or foleyb@nwfsc.edu.

Summer 2015 Eco-Adventures

Western Lake Paddle Tour Wednesdays through Aug 5, 9:00-11:30am
Explore a coastal dune lake of South Walton County! This kayak tour will take you around Western Lake, one of the larger lakes of the coastal dune lake systems. Experience the diversity of wildlife and habitats that define these unique lake systems. This tour is led by the local and avid eco-tour guide Dave Posey. Moderate to high exertion level, depending on wind conditions. Participants are asked to bring plenty of water, forecast compatible clothing and personal comfort items (i.e. sunscreen, bug spray, etc.). Kayak rental included in the cost of the tour.There is a Bring Your Own Boat option for this tour.  See discounted rate under “Fee” Space is limited to 8 participants. Minimum of 3. Location: Meet at the South Walton campus of Northwest Florida State College 109 South Greenway Trail, Santa Rosa Beach, FL. Guide will lead a caravan to Grayton Beach State Park to launch boats. Fee: $60 per person /$45 per person BYOB.



The Bayside Fishing Clinic 3:00-5:00 pm | June 5 & 19. July 2, 16, 30. Aug 6.
This educational Eco-Adventure takes you to Kellogg Park, a newly established park, off Chat Holley Road to learn fishing techniques about fishing on the Choctawhatchee Bay. You will fish from the park and in the water to get a real feel for the techniques necessary to catch a fish in the Bay! The guide is well versed in fishing in the area and will share his diverse knowledge about the area and the fish that live there! Beginner or proficient fisherman/fisherwoman you will enjoy this
class and definitely learn something new. You are encouraged to bring your own rod to further your own knowledge of your equipment, however there will be rods provided, as well as fishing lures. Please bring sunscreen, water, snacks, weather appropriate clothing, bug spray, and other amenities needed for your fishing style! Space is limited to 12 participants. Minimum of 6. Location: Meet at Kellogg Park. From South Walton Campus of Northwest Florida State College go north on 331, make a left on Chat Holley Road, drive about 2.25 miles and make a right on Nellie Drive, follow Nellie Drive to the Bay and you will see the park straight ahead! Fee: $35

The Jewels of 30A - Coastal Dune Lakes Tour 9:30am - 3:30pm | June 26 and July 24
This educational tour will introduce participants to the Jewels of 30A – the coastal dune lakes of Walton County, Florida. Coastal dune lakes are extremely rare ecosystems, which exist in just a few places around the world. They are primarily freshwater systems that sit along the coastline. But here in South Walton, the lakes periodically break through the beach and connect to the Gulf of Mexico. A saltwater exchange occurs, which supports an incredible biological community. Enjoy photographic vistas, take a short hike within the dune system, and stop for a picnic lunch in one of the local state parks. Participants should plan for easy to moderate short hiking, getting in and out of vans and/or bus, and being outside in the sunny and possibly windy conditions associated with coastal areas. Bring a camera and /or binoculars if you like. We suggest a hat, water bottle, sunglasses, sunscreen, and layered weather - appropriate clothing, including rain gear if needed.
Tours will go on, rain or shine; stops may be adjusted according to weather conditions to suit the comfort of the participants. Lunch will be provided. Space is limited to 30 participants. Minimum of 5 required. Location: Meet at South Walton Center of Northwest Florida State College, 109 Greenway Trail, Santa Rosa Beach. Participants will ride as a group in a van to all of the stops. Fee: $45

Historical Tour: Coffeen Nature Preserve 9:30am - 11:30am | June 10 & June 24
Explore the Coffeen Nature Preserve and its history of World War II missile testing. The 220acre Nature Preserve is owned by the Coffeen Land Trust, a local environmental non-profit organization dedicated to preserving it “as a place of peace and quiet and a haven for all God’s creatures.” Its history however is far from quiet. It was used as a secret missile test site by the Army Air Force during World War II. Hundreds of JB-2 “Buzz Bombs,” (the first pilotless, jet propelled missiles), were launched from the dunes into the Gulf of Mexico. Join Susan Paladini, the Resident  Manager, and explore the site where America’s strategic missile program began. You will view the original military photographs inside the “mess hall” and learn about the generous gift of the founder, the late Dorothy Coffeen. This will be followed by a hike of approximately 1½ miles around the property, which will include walking along two original missile launch ramps, stepping down into concrete launch bunkers and viewing other military buildings. Enjoy the natural beauty of the Preserve and Fuller Lake. This is the most western of Walton County’s globally rare and imperiled coastal dune lakes. Participants are encouraged to wear a hat, sunscreen and insect repellant and to bring bottled water. Closed-toed or other suitable walking shoes are a must. Space is limited to 16 participants. Minimum of 2 required. Location: Coffeen Nature Preserve 146 Coffeen Hill Rd., Santa Rosa Beach, FL; once in property take first right to small office/house. Fee: $20

Nonie’s Ark Animal Eventures 7:30-9pm
June 10 at Coffeen Nature Preserve
June 24 at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
July 8 Location TBA
July 22 Location TBA
Discover the sights and sounds of nature at night! Nonie Maines of Nonie’s Ark Animal Encounters will guide evening Eco-Adventures this summer on Wednesdays. A minimum of five Eventurer’s are needed and a maximum of 25. We will meet at some of Walton County’s exceptional biodiverse habitats and explore for elusive creatures such as fox, owls, frogs and especially bats! All are invited but focus is on ages 4-10. Bring a flashlight or headlamp to light your way & please come properly dressed for heat and ready to repel bugs. The tours will lead out of various locations throughout Walton County; tours will meet at sites listed on flyers. Space is limited to 25. Minimum of 5 required. Fee: $15
To register for Eco-Adventures, please call CBA at 850-200-4160. Have Eco-Tour reference number ready when registering. Reference numbers are found on the Eco-Tour Course Descriptions online.

Discover roads less traveled in South Walton!




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