Panhandle Outdoors LIVE!

Panhandle Outdoors LIVE!
Event on 2012-05-11 09:30:00

Wed 18 JAN — Leon Sinks, Sinking Streams and Wakulla Spring

This field trip will encompass trails at Florida Park Service's Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park (Wakulla Co) and the US Forest Service's Leon Sinks Geological Area in the Apalachicola National Forest (Leon Co).

From your seat on a guided riverboat excursion, see oblivious manatee, wading birds, waterfowl and reptiles close up as you glide down the Wakulla River's spring run. Bring your binoculars! Eat lunch in the famed Wakulla Springs Lodge built by Ed Ball as a private retreat for himself and the St Joe Paper Company.

After lunch, explore clues to the origins of Wakulla's massive springflow just north at Leon Sinks Geological Area, where you'll see sinks, disappearing streams, a natural bridge, cave and other karst features. These give us a window into the underground labyrinth of huge caverns and conduits dissolved in the limestone beneath. Learn how the two very different landscapes of these sites are intimately connected by groundwater.

Come prepared to hike about 3 miles total. Wear sturdy walking shoes and bring water and trail snacks, rain gear if the weather forecast warrants. Meet at Wakulla Springs State Park boat dock, junction of SR 267 and SR 61 south of Tallahassee FL for a 10:30 AM EST start. This field trip will end at 5:00 PM EST, just south of Tallahassee FL.

Thurs 16 FEB — Chipola River Bluffs and Caverns, Falling Waters

Join us for exciting tours of two relatively unknown gems of the Florida State Park System: Falling Waters State Park in Chipley, and Florida Caverns State Park near Marianna.

We will begin in the morning with a tour of the fascinating geology and diverse flora of Falling Waters State Park, featuring instruction by Park Specialist Scott Sweeney and Washington County Horticulture Agent Matthew Orwat.

After lunch, we will travel east 20 miles to Florida Caverns State Park and go below ground for a fascinating tour of a limestone cave containing dazzling formations of stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, flowstones and draperies. Dr. Holly Ober, extension specialist in wildlife ecology, will be your guide to learning about the natural history of bats that inhabit Florida's Panhandle caverns.

The park's limestone bluffs along the Chipola River floodplain are rich in trees, shrubs and wildflowers found in Florida only where year-round surface water meets limestone.

Thurs 15 MAR — Eglin Air Force Base Seepage Slopes

Join us on a hike through one of the most diverse habitats for plants in North America. We will experience some of the few remaining seepage slope bog communities. Only 1% of this community type remains in Florida, which makes them rare and highly threatened. Seepage slope bogs boast over 14% of the Panhandle's documented native plants — including three of four of the world's carnivorous plant families.

This will be a moderate hike over un-even terrain. Please wear sturdy shoes, field clothes, long pants. Remember sunscreen, bug spray, a hat, and a camera.

Wed 4 APR — Apalachicola Bluffs, Steepheads and Ravines

This field trip will encompass trails at Florida Forest Service's Bear Creek Educational Forest in Lake Talquin State Forest (Gadsden Co), and The Nature Conservancy's "Garden of Eden" in the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve (Liberty Co).

Hike moderately-strenuous trails through two of the Florida Panhandle's globally-rare steephead and ravine systems. Learn how these very different watersheds developed. See relict flora left behind in these unique micro-climatic habitats, when more northern plants and animals migrated back northward as the Wisconsin glaciation ended and our region slowly warmed.

Come prepared to hike about 5 miles total. Wear sturdy walking shoes. Bring water and trail snacks, rain gear if the weather forecast warrants. Meet at Bear Creek Educational Forest, SR 267 south of I-10, Quincy FL for a 10:30 AM EDT start. This field trip will end at 5:00 PM EDT, just north of Bristol FL.

Fri 11 MAY — Perdido River

Perdido Natural Adventures will be our outfitter for a 4-5 hour paddling trip down the historic Perdido River, the north-south border between Florida and Alabama. This sand-bottom, blackwater river and its adjacent floodplain are home to gopher tortoises, bald eagles, and river otters, as well as beautiful cypress and tupelo trees.

Lunch will be provided picnic-style on a sandbar and time will be allotted for swimming and rope swinging! The river typically has steady water flows (dependent on rainfall), so the trip requires little vigorous paddling, but the river's narrower, winding sections will necessitate steering.

Wed 6 JUN — Navarre Beach and Santa Rosa Sound

Join us on Navarre Beach at the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station. Here we will learn about the barrier island system, the Santa Rosa Sound, marine mammals, plankton, sea turtles and coastal processes.

We will kayak along the sound, walk along the Gulf of Mexico and learn about the western Panhandle coastal environment. Easy kayaking and hiking, although if the wind is up, the kayaking can be moderate.

Wed 22 AUG — Ochlockonee Brackish River Swamps and Marshes

This field trip will feature canoeing through flooded marshes of the St Marks National Wildlife Refuge (Wakulla Co) at the head of Ochlockonee Bay, and on the Sopchoppy, Dead and Ochlockonee Rivers which meet there.

We will explore the swamp forested lower reaches of the Ochlockonee and Sopchoppy rivers, and the Dead River which connects them at the head of the bay. You will see vegetation transition from freshwater to brackish along the rivers and through the marshes.

Come prepared to canoe about 10 miles total. Windy conditions on open water can make the canoeing strenuous; otherwise, there isn't much current or tidal flow to impede easy progress. Wear water shoes, hat, sunglasses and wind jacket. Bring a dry bag with sunscreen, drinking water and trail snacks, rain gear if the weather forecast warrants.

We will meet and launch from the bluffs of Ochlockonee River State Park (Wakulla Co). Meet at the park's canoe ramp for a 10:30 AM EST start. The park is on US 319 south of Sopchoppy, and just north of the Ochlockonee River bridge at the Wakulla-Franklin county line. This field trip will end at 5:00 PM EST.

Thurs 20 SEPT — St Andrews Beaches, Dunes and Bay

Join us for a wading and snorkeling tour of underwater habitats of St. Andrews Bay. You'll get an up-close and personal look at marine nursery grounds teeming with sea life as we explore the bay's seagrass meadows with masks, seine nets and a variety of scientific sampling gear. We'll go face-to-face with tropical fish and marine invertebrates like sea urchins that live along the jetties at St. Andrews Pass.

Wear tightly-fitting water shoes or athletic shoes for wading, no flip-flops.

Thurs 11 OCT — Tate's Hell Wet Savannas and Swamps

Join us for a whirlwind tour of a variety of wetland community types — some very unique — in a place called Tate's Hell because it once was considered impenetrable by man.

At one time Tate's Hell supported at least 12 major community types, of which 8 were wetlands: wet flatwoods, wet prairie, seepage slope, baygall, floodplain forest, floodplain swamp, basin swamp and dense titi thickets. The other four were upland hardwood forest, sandhill, pine ridge and scrub.

Currently, Tate's Hell State Forest contains approximately 107,300 acres of hydric communities such as wet prairie (containing a vast diversity of plant species), wet flatwoods, strand swamp, bottomland forest, baygall, and floodplain swamp. Past management practices have disrupted the function of the natural ecosystems, and their restoration is a primary management objective of the Florida Forest Service.

Several unique stands of "dwarf cypress" trees are located on the forest. Several of these cypress trees are documented to be over 150 years old but only reach a mature height of approximately 15 feet.

Rare plant species living on the forest include: thick-leaved water-willow (Justicia crassifolia), white birds-in-a-nest (Macbridea alba), Florida bear grass (Nolina atopocarpa), Chapman's butterwort (Pinguicula planifolia), and small-flowered meadow beauty (Rhexia parviflora). Pitcher plant seeps and other carnivorous plants are plentiful, as are a variety of other aquatic and terrestrial plants.

Wed 14 NOV — Torreya Bluffs, Streams and Floodplain Forests

This field trip will take you on trails at Florida Forest Service's Torreya State Park (Liberty Co). You will explore the moist slope forests along the crystal-clear perennial streams that originate in steepheads and course through the park's ravines, and see their transition into the mature floodplain forest of the Apalachicola River, at the foot of the park's steep bluff.

Come prepared to hike about 5 miles total. Wear sturdy walking shoes. Bring water and trail snacks, rain gear if the weather forecast warrants. Meet at the group picnic pavilion in Torreya State park, south of Greensboro FL and north of Bristol FL, for a 10:30 AM EST start. This field trip will end at 5:00 PM EST.

at Fillingim Landing on Perdido River (May 11th only)
+30° 40′ 29.85″, -87° 24′ 20.80″
Quincy, United States

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