Tram Tours

The second Friday of the month is set aside for TRAM Tours to the heart of the Buffer Preserve, 26 lucky people can enjoy a leisurely ride to observe nature – undisturbed. At certain times of the year — certain rare, endangered or threatened plants are visible. Some of these plants are state protected and some federally. While we are not the only place one might observe these plants — for some, we have the best populations of any other public place! There are Bald Eagle nest, tracts of various animals that call the Buffer home, trees, trails, and more.

We hope you will join us by calling 850-229-1787, Ext. 1 and making your reservation for a glorious ride. A guide from the Preserve will explain how such things as Low water crossings help with water flow to St. Joseph Bay. You will learn why and how prescribed burns are important to the Preserve. You will have a chance to ask questions and if your guide doesn’t know the answer — they will find the answer for you.
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Archaeology Talk: “Going Ballistic”

Archaeology Talk at the Buffer on Friday, March 30, 2018. FL Public Archaeology Network to present program at 6:00 pm ET hosted by the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve. Meet in the Visitor Center to hear Janene Johnson talk about “Going Ballistic: Archaeology of Florida’s Natural Bridge Battlefield. Natural Bridge is located in the St. Mark’s floodplain and is the site of Florida’s second largest Civil War battlefield. Check starfl.com for listings of other activities beginning on Thursday at the library. These events are excellent and are the perfect vessel to learn or relearn about our state history.

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!

Preserves Hosts Students

Preparing to use the telescope with Lillian Hughes and Setting out on a tram tour with Dylan Shoemaker

Rooms at the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve have stayed nearly full this spring with several college student groups staying at the Buffer while doing research in the Buffer or Aquatic Preserve.

The Buffer Center has also hosted groups of preschool, elementary, and middle school students who visit with their teachers. During a morning visit, the children get a tram tour, several hands-on activities to help them learn about conservation, and snacks. We are very fortunate to have Sandra Chafin as the Buffer Preserve’s administrative assistant. She taught school for more than a decade and knows how to keep children busy and learning. Many volunteers from Friends helped with the school groups.

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.

New Land Acquisitions

Two tracts of land added to the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve!

This spring Friends of St. Joseph Bay Preserves purchased 20 quarter-acre lots adjacent to the north border  of the Buffer Preserve on April 30. This five-acre tract is located off State Road 30A (but without road access)in Simmons Bayou. It is a wetland area which will enhance the conservation efforts of the Buffer Preserve.

The State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection, using money given by Eglin Air Force Base, bought the one-acre bay front lot just north of the Buffer Center on State Road 30A (two photos above). The lot is now under ownership of the Buffer Preserve! Eglin AFB provided funds for this purchase as part of its Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) program. The REPI program involves partnership between Eglin AFB and a number of state and local government agencies,the Nature Conservancy, and the Florida Defense Alliance of Enterprise Florida, Inc. REPI has the goal of creating a Northwest Florida Greenway of protected land within a 100-mile corridor from the base, near Niceville, to the Apalachicola National Forest. Although protecting wildlife habitat and wildlife migration corridors may seem a surprising interest for the Air Force, there is an important military purpose.

Eglin is host to Joint Strike Fighter training, which requires planes to fly in low to the base from a distance of 90 miles. While it conserves wildlife habitat, the Greenway also prevents development, construction, and human activities that would be sensitive to the low-flying planes. The Northwest Florida Greenway lies beneath or near airspace previously set aside for the special use of Eglin AFB.

From the Buffer’s perspective, the addition of this lot not only increases the amount of protected bay front land but also prevents undesirable development that might result in harm to marsh and sea grasses along the Buffer Center’s shore.

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