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Friends Newsletter, November 2023


Warm sunny weather helped to bring out visitors On Saturday October 7th for our annual Fall Bay Day fund raiser.  Our famous Low Country Shrimp Boil served 160 hungry visitors who also enjoyed live music, a silent auction, guided tours through the backwoods trails of the Buffer Preserve, and an Audubon bird walk.  Additional informative environmental presentations were held in the Visitor Center. Among the many exhibitors present were the Central Panhandle Aquatic Preserve, Saint Joseph State Park, Saint Andrews & Saint Joseph Bays Estuary Program, BaySavers, Aquatech/Aquaticus, Indian Pass Turtle Patrol, Fish and Wildlife Commission/FWRI Scallops, Florida Native Plant Society, SJP Turtle Patrol, Friends of St. Vincent Wildlife Reserve, International Dark Sky Association, and various area governmental and nonprofit environmental organizations.

We surveyed a number of our visitors asking them how they would rate their Bay Day experience based on a 1 to 5 scale with 1 being very poor and 5 being very good.  They responded with a 4.83 average.   In general, their comments were overwhelmingly positive with statements like: “Great, Fun, Love all the information and people, Nice people, Good tour, Enjoyed the band, Would like to come back, Enjoyable Day, Well organized and interesting, Will be back, Best yet, Best so far, Very organized, Excellent,” and so forth.

As you know, The Friends of the St. Joseph Bay Preserves hold two Bay Day events each year on the first Saturday in October and February.  If you missed it, please join us for the fun in February and if it works for you consider volunteering to assist us with this major fund-raising project.

The Friends, with the assistance of the Buffer staff, have begun an interpretative trail project that has completed its first phase of construction.  The base material for the trail meeting ADA standards has been laid down as a short loop trail that runs along the Bay just north of the observation tower. The Bay views from the trail are stunning. When finished the trail will be an important educational addition congruent with the Buffer Visitor Center and the Bay Observation Tower.  The next major focus of this project will be creating visitor usage locations and interpretive signage. We are also looking for interested people who would like to assist us with this project in regard to fund raising support and continuing trail design.

This year the Friends Board of Directors have added three new members.  Brenda Burnett, Patrick Foy and Kelly Houk.  Each of them brings important skills and perspectives to the Board.  The Board currently consists of thirteen elected members and two exofficio non-voting members who are the Site Managers of the Aquatic and Buffer State Preserves.

Unfortunately, our current Treasurer is leaving the Board. We want to recognize the dedication and hard work that March Ard has done in that position. The Treasurer serves as a Board officer who works closely with the Board President and Secretary to help the Board fulfill its fiduciary responsibilities.  This is a critical role within the Friends. If you or someone you know would be a good candidate for this important position, please contact me at the number below.

Hope all is well in your life,

Richard Trahan, President
Friends of St. Joseph Bay Preserves
(970) 744-9801. rtrahan@comcast.net