Category Archives: Events

Lester Stars at Turtle Fest

John Ehrman, Lynda White and Lester the Loggerhead

The Friends of St. Joseph Bay Preserves were well represented at the 3rd Annual Sea Turtle Festival on Sunday, July 1st. Even though it rained most of the day, there were many tourists and residents who stopped by to learn more about the Buffer and Aquatic Preserves.
Lester the Loggerhead, our education ambassador for sea turtles, enabled us to educate visitors about these remarkable creatures nesting on our beaches.  Lynda White

Annual Membership Meeting

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!

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.

Bay Day a Terrific Fund-Raiser

The Live Auction, Feb. 2, and Winter Bay Day ,Feb. 4, brought in over $9,000 in net donations, after deducting our costs. Please be sure to thank our commercial sponsors who gave items for the auctions and raffle! Business owners from Mexico Beach to Apalachicola responded to requests by site volunteers Pat Caruana and Carl Janish, and most local businesses donated valuable merchandise or services for our auctions. You can find their business cards and brochures on display at the Buffer Visitors’ Center. Please thank our sponsors!
All of you volunteers deserve a huge Thank You, too! Here’s a breakdown of net funds received from some of the Winter Bay Day activities you helped with:
Shrimp Boil, 491 plates sold, $4,911
Live Auction, $3,648
T-shirt sales, $1,091
Silent Auction, $872
Memberships, $860
Raffle, $696
Cookie Sales, $287

Splash Trash Tour

What happens when trash hits the splash? As we all enjoy the beautiful Florida ocean and beaches, we are also facing an enormous challenge – trash in our oceans. It is having devastating effects on our sea and wildlife, our beaches, our local economies and our human health.

 Special Events include:

Trash in the Oceans and You – April 6, 10:00 – 11:00: What is the status of plastic trash in our oceans and what can we do to make a difference?  Is recycling the answer?  Is ocean clean-up technology the answer?  Join Splash Trash creator, Bette Booth, in this interactive presentation to learn the answers to these and many other questions about trash in our oceans.

Splash Trash Family Day Saturday April 1 – 10:00 – 2:00.   Join artist Bette Booth while she is making a new art piece –  “Catch of the Day”.

This is the final stop on the Splash Trash 2017 Florida Tour and the response has been overwhelming.  As one visitor summarized, “Everyone needs to see this show.  The message is that important.”  Another commented, “It’s beautiful.  It’s disturbing.  It’s inspiring.”

Splash Trash Tour Hours
March 31:  9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
April 1:  10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
April 3 – 6:  9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
April 7:  9:00 a.m. – 12:00

Annual Meeting News & Reports

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
White.

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.

To Our Bay day Sponsors: Thank You!

Friends have the absolute BEST SPONSORS — anywhere! We are hoping our fantastic sponsors of our Live auction, Silent Auction, and raffle will join us for a little celebration, Thursday, Nov 17 at 4pm. At that time you may join a group for a TRAM Tour to the Uplands of the Preserve. Manager, Dylan Shoemaker will lead this tour. At 5:15pm those unable to make it to TRAM Tour may join us in the Visitors Center for refreshments and visiting with other sponsors and Board members. A highlight of the evening could very well be the sun sinking over St. Joseph Bay Our sunsets are breathtaking.RSVP and let us know if you are coming please so we will have enough refreshments.

June Starts Busy! Call Out for Bay Day Volunteers!

Well, we have been busy at the Buffer Preserve. Prepping for prescribed burns and conducting actual Rx fires keep personnel busy, busy. Almost every bed has been full with researchers and/or interns. We are excited to have everyone and always enjoy hearing about their work.
A group of Boy Scouts planned a project involving weeding and putting out pine straw. Their efforts greatly helped our curb appeal in front of the Visitor Center. We always love having younger environmentalists-in-training at the Preserve.
Some of our latest visitors include a nest, eggs, baby birds, and of course, a mama bird. Right on our deck railing mama bird built a nest and laid 4 eggs. They hatched — much to our delight. We have loved watching them grow on a daily basis and will be sad when they fly away.
Our Visitor Center has been the site for several meetings for groups who do not have a meeting facility. Turtle Patrol groups and the Coastal Training Program from the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve met here and we are happy to be able to offer our site for their use.
T.S. Colin helped getting thinking about our Hurricane Disaster Plan. We are thankful it was just a mild test however we were happy to review our plan of action even we sincerely hope we never need it. Always be ready – in case – is our motto!
Friends of the Preserves are starting now to plan for October Bay Day. Want to be a part of this wonderful celebration of the Bay and Buffer Preserves? Just email us at admin@stjosephbaypreserves.org or talk to any board member. These board members each have a committee and they are always needing good help. John Ehrman, Dewey Blaylock, Gene Cox, Sonny Chafin, Jeff Ross, Lillian Hughes, Lynda White, Nancy Thomson, March Ard, Shannon Lynch make up this super star group of volunteers!

Archaeology Week Celebrated!

Archaeology Week Celebrated in Port St. Joe Friday night at the Buffer Preserve!
The turnout was good and the program was very interesting on the Mystery, Intrigue and the shipwrecked Vamar! The FL Public Archaeology Network presents a program each year during Archaeology Weekend in Port St. Joe! Before it’s renaming to Vamar in 1933 the ship was named the Kilmarnock, the Chelsea, and the Eleanor Bolling. As the Eleanor Bolling or as the crew called her “Evermore Rolling”, Rear-Admiral Richard E. Byrd, USN made significant upgrades to withstand Antarctic ice. She became the first metal-hulled vessel to be used in Antarctic waters.
In 2002, Vamar was nominated to become FL’s ninth Underwater Archaeological Preserve. The Vamar was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. The wreck of the Vamar is approximately 3.7 miles off the shore of Mexico Beach.
Thanks to the FL Public Archaeology Network for presenting Archaeology Weekend!

Fire Week at the Buffer Preserve!

It was Fire Week at the Buffer Preserve! A Burn Party!! Staff and Trainees from the Prescribed Fire Training Center helped and trained for four days this week. It was a wonderful experience with weather conditions cooperating and providing the right conditions to do the Rx burning. Others help the manager and staff of the Preserve with burns and training. Caitlin from ANERR and the South Gulf County Volunteer Fire Department, Volunteers from Tallahassee and St. George Island, T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula and Bald Point State Park are some that assist. FL Forest Service personnel are an important component when the Buffer Preserve conducts a prescribed burn! Many thanks to all of the agencies who assist us