15th Bay Day! Outstanding Sponsors!

It all started in 2003 when the first Board of the Friends of the Preserves decided to have a thank you for those who had supported their tireless efforts of establishing a committed group of citizens concerned with helping the health of the bay. Charla Boggs was the first president of this illustrious group of citizens. That first group and each group who have followed have displayed extraordinary desires to restore the land, protect the water, and preserve for the future.

Lynda White is the current president who has been blessed with an outstanding board and wonderful opportunities during her term in office. Purchasing 25 lots contiguous to the Buffer Preserve will help continue to help protect the quality of the water and wildlife in and near St. Joe Bay. Lynda says, “It has been a privilege to serve on the board and as its president. Opportunities have been presented and funds from our previous Bay Days allowed us to make these purchases. The 5,025+ acres benefit the entire community. Improvements made in the buffer and aquatic preserves contribute to the mission of the Friends.”

Would you believe that over 300 attended the first “Low Country Boil”? How about this fact? There were 7 prizes donated to be given away in a drawing at that first event. Yes, you read it correctly. Seven prizes were given and of that seven — four of them are still donating prizes for the Bay Day Live Auction, Silent Auction or for the Raffle. Original sponsors were: Dead Fish Charters at the Indian Pass Campground, The Entrance, Happy Ours, Debbie Hooper Photography, Indian Pass Raw Bar, St. Vincent Island Shuttle Service and Richard and Anne Ingram.

THANK YOU to the 200+ local business sponsors for 2018!
Our Fall Bay Day, Silent Auction and Live Auction would not be possible without the generous donations of desirable goods and services made by our local business sponsors.
When you are considering making a purchase use a business who knows the value of the bay to the citizens of Gulf County and the surrounding area. Go to the Donors & Sponsors page on this website for a complete list of our donors and sponsors.

For an authentic experience (the Atlanta Magazine says), come on out to the St. Joseph Bay Buffer Preserve on Saturday, October 13th. You can participate in a great Birding Tour led by Ron Houser of the Bay County Audubon Society, beginning at 8:00 am ET. There will be four TRAM Tours: 9:30 am, 11:00 am, 12:30 pm, 2:00 pm. Twenty-four seats for each time. Both are free however, you must sign up to participate.

We will ask for a $10 donation for each shrimp plate and what a bargain that is. The first plates in 2003 were $7 so you can see they are still reasonable and most delicious.

While you are enjoying Bay Day, stop by our Silent Auction tables and check out the Silent Auction Bid Items.

You will not want to miss our Live Auction event Thursday October 11th starting at 6:30 pm ET at the Preserve Visitor Center. This is an excellent opportunity to make donations to the preserves while having a lot of fun. Our Auctioneer Frank will entertain you while encouraging you to go ahead and plan that charter fishing trip or enjoy that stay at the beach, take a day to recharge and be pampered. You can find a multitude of choices for that experience. Your house needing some repairs? Look at our home improvement section for help.

Want to see what your choices are? Go to the Live Auction Bid Items page on this website and see the entire list of donations made by our awesome sponsors. All to help protect the bay, the natural communities and wildlife in the preserve.

Look for hand-outs of the Live Auction items in retail stores in the area and check them out online. Christmas is right around the corner and you can get started early. You will be so proud of yourself for getting that head start and in such an outstanding way – helping the preserves.

If you have questions please call 850-229-1787, Ext. 1 for more information.

 

Volunteers Help Businesses and Preserves

They did it again, volunteers at the St. Joseph Bay Buffer Preserve thanked local business owners for their help in the last two previous Bay Day Celebrations. They also happily accepted donations for the Fall Bay Day and Live Auction which will be on Oct. 11th and Oct. 13th. The gift certificates are under lock and key for next February. Pat Caruana and Carl Janish have performed their magic – helping to promote local businesses with an outstanding Sponsors Display in the Visitor Center. All donations are used to raise funds for various projects during the year by the Friends of the Preserves Citizen Support Organization. Many locals are members of the group and membership is encouraged. Attending the Live Auction on Thursday before the Saturday Bay Day event helps the CSO even more. Come on out and be ready to be floored by the gifts and services available. Donations will be accepted in the form of cash or credit card.

Board President Lynda White “sincerely hopes everyone will attend the Live Auction on Thursday night and Bay Day on Saturday.  Birding and TRAM Tours, Low Country Shrimp Boil, Live Bluegrass music, Silent Auction and Raffles. You will have a great day and be glad you got out to enjoy the beauty of the preserves.”

This is an excellent opportunity to give unique gifts to family and friends for birthdays, anniversaries, or Christmas. Think how relaxed you will be in December when your Christmas shopping is almost complete! Shirts and ties are out of vogue and charter fishing trips are in. Your spouse will thank you profusely and you will make points for the whole year.

Want to know what kind of items you might find at the Live Auction, Silent Auction or Raffle? These items are listed on the Friends of the Preserves website.

So, if you have a fear of attending auctions just relax. Friends of the Preserves Board Members will help you so you can enjoy the night. Another site volunteer, Frank Hermanek will serve as auctioneer for the second time and he makes the event enjoyable even if someone outbids you on an item. There is wine and cheese to enjoy also.

Remember, your donations by membership or participation in the auctions, raffles, or by attending Bay Day are used to assist the Aquatic and Buffer Preserves exclusively. Keeping St. Joseph Bay in outstanding condition is a priority for the CSO. The 5,025 acres surrounding the bay serve as a water recharge area naturally cleaning the waters coming down the watershed before it reaches the bay. We are not just talking about the bay for our use now but for the next generations to follow.

Dylan Shoemaker, Preserve Manager “invites everyone to come to the preserve and enjoy being outside. Listen to bluegrass music and enjoy an authentic experience with a Low Country Shrimp Boil prepared right on the deck. Local wild-caught shrimp make the boil extraordinary for a mere $10 donation.”

The mission of the Friends of the Preserves is: Restoring the Land, Protecting the Water, and Preserving the Future! How can you help? Attend the Live Auction on Thursday, October 11th and Bay Day on October the 13th!

The LIVE Auction on October 11th and the Fall Bay Day on October 13th are two events it will be worth your while to participate in while you are helping the Aquatic and the Buffer Preserves.

Raising funds to help in YOUR backyard! The mission of the Friends of the Preserves: Restore the Land, Protect the Water, Preserve for the Future. You can help!!

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

Scars Hurt Signs Are Up

Boat Launch at Frank Pate Park, Port St. Joe

Jon Brucker, Manager of the Aquatic Preserve, suggested a set of new signs from the Be Seagrass Safe organization to attract boaters’ attention to the need to protect seagrass in the St. Joseph Bay. The large, colorful signs were purchased by the Friends and installed by Aquatic Preserves staff at  popular boat launch sites.
The seagrass growing in the St. Joseph Bay is mostly the type called turtle grass. It provides shelter for small salt water animals and for young, growing fish and shellfish. It is also a favorite food source for juvenile green sea turtles.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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