The University of Florida IFAS Extension faculty are continuing their acclaimed "Panhandle Outdoors Live!" programs for 2017. The program will include presentations, as well as, traditional excursions to explore and learn about the Panhandle's signature ecosystems. This year's planned programs include "Nearshore Artificial Reefs" (Navarre Beach, Aug. 17), "St. Joseph Bay Water School" (Gulf County, Sept. 19-20), "Coastal Dune Lakes" (Walton County, Oct. 25), and a "Natural Resources Field Day" (Santa Rosa County, Oct. 26).
Many of these special places include conservation lands but are still vulnerable to issues that threaten their ecological integrity. The diversity of our Panhandle water features also provides for hot spots of biological diversity throughout the region. Come learn about the important roles of these amazing aquatic and upland systems. The St. Joseph Bay Ecosystem is home to one of the richest concentrations of marine grasses along the Northern Gulf Coast. It supports an amazing diversity of fish, aquatic invertebrates and birds. Other local habitats of significance include nesting beaches for loggerhead sea turtles, salt marshes that support secretive marsh birds, and pine flatwoods uplands.
The St. Joseph Bay Water School is a two-day educational adventure based at the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve. This event includes field tours of unique coastal uplands, presentations by scientists and naturalists, and a kayak trip to explore the underwater life of the seagrass beds.
Tuesday, Sept. 19
•9 a.m. -12 p.m. Introductions and workshop logistics, field tour of the Buffer Preserve Property with Manager, Dylan Shoemaker; Presentation on the Ecology of the St. Joseph Bay Seagrass Ecosystem with John Brucker
•12 p.m. - 1 p.m. Lunch (provided)
•1:30 p.m. - 5 p.m. Field tour of Salinas Park and St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, discussion of Coastal Processes and Geomorphology with Park Staff/ Discussion of Coastal Habitats with Sea Grant Faculty
•6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Dinner in Historic Port St. Joe (not included in ticket price)
Wednesday, Sept. 20
•8 a.m. - 9 p.m. Breakfast (provided)
•9 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. Presentations on Diamondback Terrapin Ecology with Rick O'Conner, on Bay Scallops with Erik Lovestrand and Bay Water Quality with Ray Bodrey
•11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. Lunch (provided)
•12:45 p.m. - 3 p.m. Kayaking and snorkeling the Sea Grass Beds, hosted by "Happy Ours" Kayak Outfitters
•3:30 p.m. Return to Preserve to depart
Base registration is $65. Base registration fee covers breakfast and lunch, facility costs, water & snacks, transportation and educational sessions. Additional costs are related to lodging, rental fees for canoes and kayaks. For a detailed agenda and registration information, please see the following website: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/panhandle-outdoors-live-st-joseph-bay-waterschool-tickets-36284218073?aff=es2
Please contact Gulf County Extension at 639-3200 for more information.
UF/IFAS Extension is an Equal Opportunity Institution.