All posts by March Ard

January Tram Tour, Thursday, Jan. 21

The third Thursday of every month, the Buffer Preserve offers a tram tour through the preserve.  Due to the spike in COVID-19 cases, our visitor center is closed again, and this tour will not include a separate history talk.  Attendees will meet directly at the Main Gate parking lot (across the street from the visitor center) at 9:30am.

The tram moves slowly, and our Environmental Specialist Sophia Fonseca will interpret the surroundings while you ride down Treasure Road and Sandridge Road.  Remember to bring anything that will make your ride more comfortable: hat, sunscreen, water, insect repellent, raincoat, camera, binoculars, etc.  The tram has no roof so be prepared for sun or possibly a light shower.  We will not cancel if the rain is light and no lightning is present.

To reserve your spot please email Sophia at sophia.fonseca@floridadep.gov.  Include the names and number of people in your party.

PLEASE NOTE: Since the visitor center is closed, our bathrooms will not be available.  As well, masks are suggested on the tram.

Festival of Trees at The Joe Center for the Arts, through Dec. 12

See the Friends of St. Joseph Bay Preserves Christmas tree at the Festival of Trees, at The Joe Center for the Arts!  Many organizations and businesses have decorated beautiful and original trees for this display.  Vote for your favorite!  Plus there are special events including a Silent Auction.  For the schedule, see https://thejoecenterforthearts41.wildapricot.org/

201 Reid Avenue, Port Saint Joe/ Wednesday-Saturday, 11-6, except Thanksgiving weekend (closing at 3 on Weds., reopening on Sat.)

December Tram Tour, Dec. 17

WHEN: Thursday, December 17th, 9:30am – 11am

WHERE: Main Gate Trail Entrance

DESCRIPTION: Every third Thursday of the month, the Buffer Preserve offers a tram tour through the preserve.  Due to the spike in COVID-19 cases, our visitor center is closed again, and this tour will not include a separate history talk.  Attendees will meet directly at the Main Gate parking lot (across the street from the visitor center) at 9:30am.

The tram moves slowly, and our Environmental Specialist Sophia Fonseca will interpret the surroundings while you ride down Treasure Road and Sandridge Road.  Remember to bring anything that will make your ride more comfortable: hat, sunscreen, water, insect repellent, raincoat, camera, binoculars, etc.  The tram has no roof so be prepared for sun or possibly a light shower.  We will not cancel if the rain is light and no lightning is present.

To reserve your spot please email Sophia at sophia.fonseca@floridadep.gov.  Include the names and number of people in your party.

PLEASE NOTE: Since the visitor center is closed, our bathrooms will not be available.  As well, masks are suggested on the tram.

Birding at the Buffer, Dec. 25

 

WHEN: Friday, December 25th, 7:30am – 9:30am

WHERE: Deal Tract

DESCRIPTION: This event is NOT an official Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC).  For more information on CBC go to https://www.audubon.org/conservation/join-christmas-bird-count.

The holidays might look a little different this year, so why not start a new tradition?  Make memories with family and friends and learn about the birds seen on the Deal Tract on a bird-watching hike.  Bring binoculars if you own them, but if not, the preserve has some available to borrow.

The hike will go from the parking lot, to the bay, and back: a sandy 1 mile or so.  As the Deal Tract can be very buggy, please dress appropriately and use insect repellent as needed.

Due to COVID-19, the hike will be limited to 10 people, and masks are suggested.

First Day Hike, Jan. 1

WHEN: Friday, January 1st, 10am-12pm

WHERE: South Gate Trail Entrance

DESCRIPTION: Get the new year started off on the right foot with a hike!  We will meet at the South Gate Trail Entrance and traverse Sandridge Loop for about 2 miles roundtrip.  Please contact us if you need directions to this less popular entrance to the preserve.  (Map below: South Gate is on County Road 30A, slightly east of Cape San Blas.)

Remember to bring and wear anything that will make you the most comfortable for hiking!  Good walking shoes, insect repellent, water, etc.

Due to COVID-19, the hike will be limited to 10 people, and masks are suggested.

Halloween at the Buffer Preserve

Friday, October 30, 6:00-9:00 Eastern Time

St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve, 3915 State Road 30A, Port St. Joe, FL

Full Moon Tram Tour and Treats

The Friends of St. Joseph Bay Preserves welcome you to our first Halloween event! At the base of the observation tower, Preserve Manager Dylan Shoemaker will host a marshmallow roast around a campfire. Up on the deck, Friends will be serving hot chocolate and candy! Across the street, Environmental Specialist Sophia Fonseca will lead visitors on a haunted tram tour.
Experience the preserve after hours in the light of the oh-so-convenient full moon, actually a blue moon! There will be scary history about the preserve and maybe some views of creatures that only come out at night. Reservations are required for the Haunted Tram. While we are limiting the number of people on the tram to abide by CDC guidelines, we will be offering the tour at two times: 6pm and 7:30pm. In your reservation, please list the number of people in your group as well as your chosen tour time.
Tram reservations can be made by contacting Sophia Fonseca at sophia.fonseca@floridadep.gov
Meet at the Main Gate parking lot at the time of your tour. We suggest driving across the street for safety reasons.
Masks are required inside the visitor center. Outside, they are required if 6ft of distance cannot be maintained.
COSTUMES ARE ENCOURAGED!

Preserve Visitor Center Repaired

August 2019

The St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve Center buildings have been closed since Hurricane Michael in October. Four staff members work from a temporary office in a trailer on site.

Although the Buffer staff had to wait a while for a construction crew to be available, the crew has been working there for months now. Presently they are repairing the foundation under the Lodge and the other raised buildings. Reconstruction and repairs are coming along well. Preserve manager Dylan Shoemaker estimates re-opening of the buildings in September.

Trails at the Buffer Preserve and the Deal Tract are open to visitors. A walk might be nice, if you can find a cool day!

Friends Website Is Up Again
www.stjosephbaypreserve.org
Thanks to free help from Dusty Alford, one of the generous Directors of the Friends of St. Joseph Bay Preserves, our website is once again visible online!
Please note the slight change in the URL of the site: it is now www.stjosephbaypreserve.org without the final “s” on “preserve.”
The website does need some updating in places. We’ll get it all ship-shape soon.

Friends of the St. Joseph Bay Preserves Board Meetings
The Board of Directors of the Friends of St. Joseph Bay Preserves met informally on June 18, their first meeting since last September. Several people had spent months out of town because of damage to their homes. So the meeting was a heartwarming reunion.

Still there were elements of shock remaining from the hurricane that hit three days before our planned Fall Bay Day.

The Board is enthusiastic about planning the next Bay Day fundraiser, but with the buildings at the Buffer Preserve still closed, we can’t be sure of being ready for a Fall Bay Day by the second Saturday of October. We’ll be back for Winter Bay Day, though, on the second Saturday in February! Please plan to be with us on February 8!
The next Board of Directors meeting is to be held at the Buffer Visitor Center on Tuesday, August 20, at 4:30 p.m.

Sonny Chafin, Year-Round Volunteer for Friends and the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve, Died on July 7
Anyone who has spent time at the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve, at the Office or the Lodge or at Bay Days, probably has talked to Sonny Chafin. He was usually there helping out. He served some years as Treasurer of the Friends group and as a Director of Friends. He had a kindly face, a friendly presence, and usually an encouraging word. He was always willing to help. He’ll be missed more than he would have ever guessed.

Sonny was married to Sandra Chafin. They have three daughters and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

 

Scars Hurt Signs Are Up

Boat Launch at Frank Pate Park, Port St. Joe

Jon Brucker, Manager of the Aquatic Preserve, suggested a set of new signs from the Be Seagrass Safe organization to attract boaters’ attention to the need to protect seagrass in the St. Joseph Bay. The large, colorful signs were purchased by the Friends and installed by Aquatic Preserves staff at  popular boat launch sites.
The seagrass growing in the St. Joseph Bay is mostly the type called turtle grass. It provides shelter for small salt water animals and for young, growing fish and shellfish. It is also a favorite food source for juvenile green sea turtles.

Bigger Better Sea Turtle Fest

Friends of St. Joseph Bay Preserves had lots of visitors to our booth at the 2nd annual Sea Turtle Festival, held on July 2 at George Core Park in Port St. Joe. Our most popular exhibit by far was the skeleton of Lester the loggerhead sea turtle. He resides in the Buffer Visitor Center, in case you missed seeing him last Sunday.

The Sea Turtle Festival is fun for everyone, with a marine life touch tank from Gulf Specimen Marine Lab, lots of crafts vendors, and informational booths like ours about the natural environment and parks in our area, and of course about the Turtle Patrols. There were also hot dogs, ice cream, and live music!

Thanks to our volunteers at the Sea Turtle Festival: Sandra and Sonny Chafin, John Ehrman, Linda Flynn, Lillian Hughes, Don Maples, Nancy Thomson, Lynda and Jim White Tim Nelson, and March Ard.

Preserves Hosts Students

Preparing to use the telescope with Lillian Hughes and Setting out on a tram tour with Dylan Shoemaker

Rooms at the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve have stayed nearly full this spring with several college student groups staying at the Buffer while doing research in the Buffer or Aquatic Preserve.

The Buffer Center has also hosted groups of preschool, elementary, and middle school students who visit with their teachers. During a morning visit, the children get a tram tour, several hands-on activities to help them learn about conservation, and snacks. We are very fortunate to have Sandra Chafin as the Buffer Preserve’s administrative assistant. She taught school for more than a decade and knows how to keep children busy and learning. Many volunteers from Friends helped with the school groups.