The Friends of St. Joseph Bay Preserves held their annual meeting January 18th at the Buffer Preserve. Attendees were updated on the state of the Preserves post Michael. Dylan Shoemaker, Buffer Preserve Manager, reported on the efforts to clean up and repair damage to the land and buildings. Jonathan Brucker, Aquatic Preserve Manager, outlined ongoing testing of water quality in the bay and other locations as well as shoreline restoration and cleanup.
Lynda White, President of the Friends Board of
Directors, thanked the Friends for their support and encouraged everyone to get the word out that Bay Day is back, better than ever, on February 8th. Lynda White
Our annual membership meeting starts off at 11:00 am with a soup and chili lunch followed by a short business meeting, reports on the restoration progress at the Buffer and election of board directors.
Annual Membership Meeting of the Friends of St. Joseph Bay Preserves January 6, 2018, 11am – 2pm 3915 State Road 30-A Port St. Joe, FL. All Friends members are encouraged to attend and bring a not-yet member!
Agenda: Presentations by President, Lynda White, Aquatic Preserve Manager, Jon Bruckner, and Buffer Preserve Manager, Dylan Shoemaker.
Members will have the opportunity to nominate members to serve on the board.
ENJOY a chili dinner with Friends!
Bring a dish to share with others and learn about the accomplishments of 2017 and the plans for growth for 2018!
Be prepared to have a good time and meet fellow FRIENDS members!
Annual Membership Meeting, January 7
First, the nearly 30 members present voted by acclamation to install two new Directors on the Board. They are Linda Palma and Tim Nelson. Both Linda and Tim spend a lot of time volunteering at the
Buffer center, helping with ongoing projects and creating new enhancements for the Visitor Center. Among their many contributions, Linda has recorded a self-guided audio tour of the exhibits by Sandra Chafin, now available any time in the Visitor Center. Tim and Allix North have produced a beautiful drone fly-over tour of the Buffer Preserve. You can watch it on the television in the Visitor Center.
A $500 check from the Florida Scallop and Music Festival of Port St. Joe was presented by Guerry Magidson, Chairman of the Board of Gulf County Chamber of Commerce, to Friends President Lynda
Buffer Preserve Manager Dylan Shoemaker presented a PowerPoint talk on the issues facing the Buffer Preserve this year. He reminded us that the mandate of the Preserves is “To Conserve and Protect.” Six current issues were discussed:
I. Restoring the hydrology (natural water flow) within the Buffer’s three watersheds. The focus now is on the Money Bayou watershed.
II. Protecting plant and animal resources.
III. Controlling invasive species, both plants and animals.
IV. Protection of the 18 cultural and historical archaeological sites in the Preserve.
V. Promoting conservation and responsible use of the natural area by the public. The Preserve has recently added a new staff member, Shana Hale, who specializes in education and outreach.
VI. Promoting scientific research that contributes to conservation and protection of native ecosystems.
Central Panhandle Aquatic Preserves Manager Jonathan Brucker presented a talk about current projects of the Aquatic Preserves. Volunteer opportunities were emphasized. Aquatic Preserves volunteers are needed to help with water quality monitoring in the four bays, St. Joseph Bay, Apalachicola Bay, Alligator Harbor, and St. Andrews Bay. The water is tested for nutrients and for harmful algal blooms. Volunteers may also help with seagrass monitoring at around 25 sites in St. Joseph Bay and others in Alligator Harbor and Apalachicola Bay. If you want to volunteer, please email Jonathan.Brucker@dep.state.fl.us , or call the Aquatic Preserves, 850-670-7723.
Several important restoration projects are underway in the bays of the Preserves. Seagrass restoration is an important one since many marine animals depend on the seagrass. Scars in seagrass beds will be filled in using a sediment tube method, beginning this summer, and 49 buoys have been deployed to prevent motor boats entering shallow areas of the bays. Other restoration projects include oyster clutch replacement and the Living Shoreline Project, funded by BP oil spill payments, which will add beneficial vegetation along shorelines.
Newly elected (March Ard, Dewey Blaylock, and Shannon Lynch) and continuing Friends Directors introduced themselves with a brief background statement at the Board of Directors Meeting on January 16, 2016, held immediately following the Annual Membership Meeting.
These are our Board members for this year:
o Dusty Alford’s business on Reid Avenue in Port St. Joe is “I Fix Computers.” Is he handy to have around, or what? Dusty has often helped with setting up and troubleshooting computers and internet for Friends. Unfortunately, he and his wife plan to move away from this area sometime in May. We’ll miss him as a Friends member and Director.
o March Ard is a retired cell biologist who taught medical school and community college in Mississippi before moving here last year. She volunteers at the Buffer Preserve and works on Friends’ email communications.
o Dewey Blaylock is a N.W. Florida native, a marine biologist and computer science entrepreneur, educated in applied mathematics. In 2002 he and his wife Patti built and opened the Sunset Coastal Grill in Port St. Joe, which they continue to run.
o Sandra Chafin is the Buffer’s administrative assistant. She began as a volunteer and became indispensable. She is a native of Port St. Joe, a former director of the Chamber of Commerce, and a retired school teacher with 29 years of teaching to her credit. She and Sonny have three grown daughters and a few really cute grandchildren who visit often.
o Sonny Chafin, Sandra’s husband, is also a Port St. Joe native and former PSJ High School football star. After a time in the Navy, he had a career in the timber industry. He volunteers at the Buffer nearly every day! Sonny is a continuing Friends Director.
o Gene Cox’s career was in helping troubled young people. He and his wife ran a residential camp for youth in Texas. They also lived for 16 years in France. He has had some interesting experiences.
o John Ehrman is a retired civil engineer. He and his wife, Penny Weining, have helped with many projects for Friends since they moved here six years ago. John is the Board’s outgoing president (serving until July), and he has done a super job!
o Lillian Hughes and her husband split their time between their home on the St. Joseph Peninsula and their original home in Thomasville, GA. Their daughter, a marine ecologist, has studied the seagrass ecology in St. Joseph Bay; she now lives with her husband in Boston, MA. They have another daughter, an occupational therapist, and a son who is an Air Force colonel. Lillian is a Turtle Patrol volunteer, an Eagle Watcher, and contributes a lot of hard work to Friends’ projects.
o Shannon Lynch is educated in geology and is interested in the geology and archaeology of this area. She volunteers with the Turtle Patrol. We appreciate her willingness to take on this new volunteer job as a Friends Director.
o Jeff Ross has remarkable computer and tech skills, and he is a big help to Friends and to the Buffer Preserve. He has recently overseen the installation of the new webcam in the observation tower at the Buffer Preserve. See the Observation Tower Webcam article in this Newsletter!
o Dylan Shoemaker is the manager of St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve. Originally from Ohio, he has a B.S. in Natural Biology, with further education in Fish and Wildlife. Dylan worked for the Florida Park Service before coming to the Buffer three years ago. His wife Melissa works for St. Andrews State Park.
o Nancy Thomson grew up in the piney woods of Clay County Florida, fishing, camping and enjoying the outdoors with her family. She retired after 33 years as teacher, guidance counselor and project manager in the public school system. Later she worked for a social service agency and at the Florida Department of Education, then moved to the peninsula full time in 2010. Nancy volunteers with turtle patrol.
o Lynda White worked for Audubon Florida. She was the Eagle Watch Coordinator, and she helped rehabilitate injured eagles for release back into the wild. She presented a terrific talk about bald eagles at the Buffer Visitor Center in January and again in March. Lynda and her husband Jim have three children and four grandchildren living in Tallahassee. Lynda is our incoming Board president!