Join the Sea Urchin Roundup – May 22nd

Participate in the Sea Urchin Roundup on May 22, 2021

The FDEP/Central Panhandle Aquatic Preserves and FWC/FWRI are hosting the St. Joseph Bay Urchin Roundup on May 22nd. We are looking to recruit volunteers to help collect urchins to relocate out to deeper water to help reduce grazing pressure on seagrasses in St. Joseph Bay. See the information flyer.

Check-in is at the Frank Pate Public Boat Ramp in Port St. Joe.  We will also have a registration tent and outreach tent at Frank Pate Boat Ramp all day for the event.

Bring your own boat, gloves and snorkeling gear and join us in removing sea urchins from seagrass beds! We will provide maps and gps locations showing where to collect urchins and buckets to put them in. Return buckets filled with urchins to our check-in station and get some swag. We will relocate the urchins to deeper water away from seagrass.

Check-in begins at 8:00 AM, and all urchins must be turned in by 5:00 PM. Please check in with an FWC or DEP employee to get your bucket and sign a volunteer waiver. Urchins should be returned in this bucket with seawater to be safely relocated by FWC or DEP employees.

Rain date is June 5, 2021.

St. Joseph Bay, located in Gulf County in the Panhandle, once contained extensive beds of seagrass and supported an abundant scallop fishery. Residents and visitors enjoyed extensive, pristine seagrass beds and clear bay waters. Summertime recreational scallop harvesting contributed greatly to the local economy. Seagrass beds in the bay are dominated by turtle grass which also provide food for abundant green sea turtles. The scallop fishery has become depleted in recent years, algal blooms are more frequent, and the acreage of seagrass beds has decreased. An overabundance of sea urchins (Lytechinus spp.) continues to destroy turtle grass beds through overgrazing. This project will jump start natural recovery of seagrass by installing exclosures over grazed areas to allow seagrasses to grow back without sea urchin grazing pressure. In addition, sea urchin roundups, public outreach events, will involve citizens to remove sea urchins from active grazing fronts. The animals will be released in deeper areas of the bay at a distance from grazed areas.

This project is a partnership between FWRI and the Central Panhandle Aquatic Preserves of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Staff from both agencies are maintaining the exclosures, monitoring the abundance of sea urchins quarterly, assessing sea grass abundance by in-water and mapping surveys, and measuring water quality monthly.

 

April 2 Let’s G.O. Walk in the Preserve

Let’s G.O. means “Let’s Get Outdoors.” Join a volunteer for a walk on the Island Road, about 1.5 miles round trip. We will meet at 9:00 a.m. Eastern time in the Island Gate parking area on County Road 30 (C30). Unfortunately the sign for Island Gate has been lost. The gate is located 0.9 mile east of the intersection of C30 and Cape San Blas Road, and 0.6 mile west of Money Bayou.

Maps are on our website:   “Maps.”

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, bring sunscreen, water, and a hat, and be aware that we may encounter shallow pools of water or mud at spots along the trail.

For questions or reservations, use the Contact Us button on the menu across the top of our home page, or email admin@stjosephbaypreserve.org . Hope to see you this Friday!

April Tram Tour, April 15, 9:30-11:30 a.m. Eastern

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 staff 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 Sandra Chafin at Sandra.Chafin@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.

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.

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