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Tram tours are back at the Buffer Preserve

By Sophia Fonseca
Environmental Specialist St. Joseph State Buffer Preserve Special to The Star

Every third Thursday of the month, the Buffer Preserve will resume tram operations.   

Attendees will meet at the preserve lodge/visitor center at 9am for a history talk with our administrative assistant and Port St. Joe local Sandra Chafin. (Do not be discouraged by the hurricane shutters; we put them up in anticipation of Hurricane Laura and have decided to keep them up and be ready for any other storms that might come until the end of the season. The door on the south side of the building and the ADA ramp on the southwest side are open). 

After the talk and once everyone has signed DEP's event waiver, we will cross the street to the tram waiting at the main entrance gate.  We suggest driving to the trail parking lot to more safely cross the 55 mph highway, but you are welcome to walk. 

Tram tours return this month to the Buffer Preserve

The tram moves slowly, and our Environmental Specialist Sophia Fonseca will interpret the surroundings while you ride down Treasure Road and Sandridge Road.  Remember to bring anything that will make your ride more comfortable: hat, sunscreen, water, insect repellent, raincoat, camera, binoculars, etc.  The tram has no roof so be prepared for sun or possibly a light shower.  We will not cancel if the rain is light and no lightning is present. 

To reserve your spot please call Sandra at 850-229-1787, or email Sophia at sophia.fonseca@floridadep.gov.  Include the name and number of people in your party. 

COVID-19 protocols 

In the interest of keeping staff and visitors healthy, we have added some safety precautions to the tram tour. 

1. Masks are required inside the visitor center. 

2. Only one out of the two bathrooms are available to visitors.  The other has been reserved for our volunteers, and both doors have been clearly marked. 

3. Our tram will not be running at full capacity, but we also do not have an exact cap number.  Each group will have an empty row between them, but depending on the size of the groups, we may be able to fit more people.  We are expecting fill slightly less than half of the tram which makes the event even more limited to 10-12 people.  Please contact us soon to get your spot and let us know if you are meeting another group that you don't mind sitting with so we can accommodate more!