Let’s G.O. walk in the Buffer Preserve, Friday, Feb. 5, 9:00 Eastern

Island Road Trail

Let’s G.O. means “Let’s Get Outdoors.”  Join a volunteer for a walk on the North Spur Road, 1.9 miles round trip.  We will meet at 9:00 a.m. Eastern time in the Main Gate parking lot across the road from the Buffer Preserve Visitor Center, 3915 State Road 30A.  We’ll learn about interesting native plants and look out for birds and signs of other animals that live in the Preserve.

Children and dogs are welcome.  Dogs must be leashed.  Please wear a mask and comfortable shoes, and be aware that we may encounter shallow pools of water or mud at spots along the trail.

Let us know if you plan to attend: use the Contact Us button on the menu across the top of our home page.  Hope to see you this Friday!

No Winter Bay Day This Year

Because of the pandemic, Friends of St. Joseph Bay Preserves will not be able to host a Winter Bay Day this February.  (It would normally be on the second Saturday of February.)  We will miss cooking the Low Country Shrimp Boil, listening to the band play, and seeing all of you who usually come to the Buffer Visitor Center to enjoy the day and to help out.  We’re sorry!

We do still run Tram Tours on the Third Thursday of each month and Let’s G.O. walks on the First Friday.  Please join us for a tour or a walk and see the Preserve!

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!

18th Winter Bay Day – A HUGE SUCCESS!

Everyone working together . . . makes any event successful! This was certainly the case for the 18th Winter Bay Day held on February 8th at the St. Joseph Bay Buffer Preserve. Just 5 plates less than 500 served made the day outstanding and even record-breaking in some areas.

Board members, volunteers and staff at the Preserve were ecstatic at the number of participants, dedicated volunteers, and supporting agencies and organizations setting up informational displays. Winter and Fall Bay Day events have returned after a year following Hurricane Michael. It has been a long road back and thankfully a successful one.

Dylan Shoemaker, Manager of the Preserve, proudly expressed with great enthusiasm, “how pleased we are with such a great turnout. After having to postpone Bay Day for over a year we were a little apprehensive about its return to the area. Attendance exceeded our expectations for which we are thankful. Our returning volunteers, year after year, provide consistency and allows us to grow and improve. Thanks to everyone for making Winter Bay Day 2020 one of the best ever!”

Four TRAM Tours were offered and were filled to capacity. The regularly scheduled Third Thursday on February 20th was also filled to capacity. If you have not experienced the tour join us. Twenty-six lucky people who have registered tour the heart of the preserve. For Fall and Winter Bay Day there is no early registration. If interested in the March TRAM Tour call 850-229-1787 as quickly as possible as several seats are already reserved.

Jonathan Brucker, St. Joseph Bay Aquatic Preserve Manager, was also excited with the turnout and the interest in St. Joe Bay and the concern for continued watching and protecting the bay. Jon and his staff cheerfully explained maps, brochures and the mission of the Aquatic Preserve to any and all who wanted to listen. He had this to say about the event, “Educating the public is first and foremost in our mission at the St. Joseph Bay Aquatic Preserve. Bay Day visitors and locals want to know how they can help us recover from the effects of Hurricane Michael. We have been so impressed with everyone’s sincere offers to assist clean-up in any way possible. Jon reported that signage for the bay will be replaced as quickly as possible.

“What a great day we had Saturday! The weather was perfect, the music was toe-tapping wonderful, the beer was cold, the shrimp were delicious and what a crowd! I had so many compliments on our event, with most saying they had missed us and were so glad we were back”, says Board President, Lynda White.

 

Friends Held Annual Meeting

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

A Citizen Support Organization established to protect and preserve one of the most ecologically significant areas in the Southeastern United States