Tag Archive: Outdoors

Panhandle Outdoors Water School – St. Joseph Bay

Panhandle Outdoors Water School – St. Joseph Bay

Our first POL program will happen this week – August 17 – at the Navarre Beach snorkel reef, and is sold out!  We are glad you all are interested in these programs.

 

Well!  We have another one for you.  The Natural Resource Extension Agents from UF IFAS Extension will be holding a two-day water school at St. Joseph Bay.  Participants will learn all about the coastal ecosystems surrounding St. Joe Bay in the classroom, snorkeling, and kayaking.  Kayaks and overnight accommodations are available for those interested.  This water school will be September 19-20.  For more information contact Extension Agent Ray Bodrey in Gulf County or Erik Lovestrand in Franklin.  Information and registration can be found at https://stjosephbay-waterschool.eventbrite.com.


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Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/11/panhandle-outdoors-water-school-st-joseph-bay/

Panhandle Outdoors: St. Joseph Bay Coastal Ecosystem Water School

Panhandle Outdoors: St. Joseph Bay Coastal Ecosystem Water School

polNorthwest Florida is considered one of the top six biodiversity hotspots in the country. The reasons why begin with our unique water features.  The University of Florida IFAS Extension faculty are expanding their acclaimed “Panhandle Outdoors Live!” field trips into two-day events for 2016. They will include presentations as well as traditional excursions to explore and learn about the Panhandle’s signature aquatic ecosystems.

This upcoming two-day, September 7 & 8,  educational adventure is based at the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve near the coastal town of Port. St. Joe, Florida. It 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.

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 of loggerhead sea turtles, salt marshes that support secretive marsh birds, and pine flatwoods uplands.  

Important!

Join us to explore these waters and learn more about the Panhandle’s hidden ecological treasures!

There are several ticket options for this water school to choose from at Eventbrite.com.  For more information please contact Erik Lovestrand at 850-653-9337 or elovestrand@ufl.edu and download this printer friendly flyer:  Panhandle Outdoors St. Joseph Bay 2016

 

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Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu

admin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/07/23/panhandle-outdoors-st-joseph-bay-coastal-ecosystem-water-school/

“Panhandle Outdoors LIVE!” Schedule for 2016

Florida's ..... Photo by Judy Biss

Explore some of the Panhandle’s hidden ecological treasures with UF/IFAS Panhandle Outdoors Live! Photo by Judy Biss

Northwest Florida is considered one of the top six biodiversity hotspots in the country. The reasons why begin with our unique water features.  Join us to explore these waters and learn more about the Panhandle’s hidden ecological treasures!

“Panhandle Outdoors LIVE!” is stepping it up a notch for 2016.  This year we’ll explore four Panhandle water resources of regional significance – the Wakulla Springshed, St. Joe Bay, the Econfina Watershed, and Weeks Bay.  Two are in the eastern Panhandle; two are in the west (one even in Alabama).

First up is the Panhandle Outdoors LIVE! – Wakulla Springshed School on March 1-2. It will base out of the magnificent “Old Florida” Wakulla Springs Lodge south of Tallahassee, and feature field trips to Leon Sinks Geological Area, Cherokee Sink and the Wakulla River – concluding with an optional paddle downriver from Wakulla Springs through a transition of ecosystems to historic Fort San Marcos de Apalachee, where the Wakulla joins the St. Marks River.

Next up, on April 4-5, is Panhandle Outdoors LIVE! – Weeks Bay Watershed School that will base out of the Episcopal Beckwith Camp and Retreat Center on Weeks Bay in Fairhope (Baldwin County) Alabama. This second watershed school will focus on the Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and feature a demonstration of oyster farming and a kayak paddle trip.

For more detailed information, and to register, for the Wakulla Springshed School visit – http://pol-2016-wakulla-springshed.eventbrite.com

For more information on the April overnight school to Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve contact Rick O’Connor

For more information on the August day school on the Ecofina River contact Laura Tiu

For more information on the September overnight school to St. Joe Bay contact Erik Lovestrand

Here is a printable flyer with all the details:  Panhandle Outdoors 2016

 

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Author: Judy Biss – judy.ludlow@ufl.edu

Judy Ludlow is the Agriculture and Natural Resource Agent in Calhoun County, Florida

Judy Biss

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/02/07/panhandle-outdoors-live-schedule-for-2016/

Panhandle Outdoors LIVE – Watershed School – Week’s Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Panhandle Outdoors LIVE – Watershed School – Week’s Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Weeks Bay.weeksbay.org

Fishermen fish the marshes of Weeks Bay while a pelican looks on. Photo: WeeksBay.org

Mobile Bay?… part of the Florida panhandle?… Really?…

Well… yes… during the colonial period “West Florida” extended west to the Biloxi area and besides, all western panhandlers know we are really “lower Alabama”; we hear it a million times a year… so YES, it’s part of the Florida panhandle! We’ll go with it.

The shallow, muddy, and productive waters of Mobile Bay as they pass the port city of Mobile AL. Photo: Auburn University

The shallow, muddy, and productive waters of Mobile Bay as they pass the port city of Mobile AL.
Photo: Auburn University

Approximately 35 miles long and 10 miles wide, Mobile Bay is one of the largest estuaries on the Gulf coast; draining close to 1/5th of the eastern United States.  This wide, shallow, and muddy bay supports a variety of fresh and brackish water ecosystems.  Wildlife from the Mississippi delta, the red hills of the Piedmont region, and the Florida panhandle all converge here making this one of the more biologically diverse areas in the country.  It was home to both Dr. E.O. Wilson and Dr. Archie Carr who deeply loved the area and it has been a hub for estuarine research for decades.  The rich abundance of wildlife supports commercial and recreational fishing and hunting as well as a growing ecotourism industry.  Though the shallow bay must be dredged to support it, the Port of Mobile in one of the busiest in the Gulf region.

 

Weeks Bay is a small tributary to this bay system. Fed by the Fish and Magnolia Rivers on the southeastern shore of Mobile Bay, Weeks Bay discharges into Bon Secour, which supports a commercial fishing business.  Lined with salt marshes, cypress swamps, and bogs, this area is great for wildlife viewing and fishing.  It is also the area of Mobile Bay that experiences the famous crab jubilees; where levels of low dissolved oxygen on the bottom of the bay force benthic animals – such as crabs and flounder – to shallow water seeking oxygen.  About 6,000 acres of this estuarine habitat is now part of NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve system.  At the reserve there are interactive exhibits, trails, and pontoon boat rides to explore and appreciate this special place.

Crab jubilees occur along the eastern shore of Mobile Bay during very warm summer evenings. Photo: NOAA

Crab jubilees occur along the eastern shore of Mobile Bay during very warm summer evenings.
Photo: NOAA

What better place to learn about the estuaries of the Gulf coast! The Panhandle Outdoor LIVE program will conduct one of our four 2016 watershed schools at this reserve.  We will have lectures on estuarine ecology, the seafood industry in Mobile Bay – highlighting oyster farming, and on the mission of the Research Reserve itself.  We will also have a local outfitter lead a kayak/canoe trip through the estuary as well an interpretive nature hike at the reserve’s visitor center.  It will be set up as an overnight trip for those traveling and we will be staying at Camp Beckwith, which on Weeks Bay.  Registration for this trip will open at the end of February.  If you have questions about this watershed school you can contact Carrie Stevenson or Rick O’Connor at (850) 475-5230; or Chris Verlinde at (850) 623-3868.

A relaxing spot at Camp Beckwith on Weeks Bay. Photo: Camp Beckwith

A relaxing spot at Camp Beckwith on Weeks Bay.
Photo: Camp Beckwith

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Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/02/05/panhandle-outdoors-live-watershed-school-weeks-bay-national-estuarine-research-reserve/

“Panhandle Outdoors LIVE!” schedule for 2016 announced

“Panhandle Outdoors LIVE!” schedule for 2016 announced

The Florida Legislature has just convened for the 2016 session, and news from the capitol is already announcing a sweeping water bill on the fast-track to passage. Supporters are quoted as saying it would provide increased protection for certain key water resources in the State such as springs and the Everglades; opponents are quoted as saying that while it doesn’t undo current protections, neither does it go far enough to assure sustainable protection of water resources for Florida’s future.

Thus it seems our legislators and lobbyists are celebrating something that’s a little better than what we’ve got now, but isn’t good enough to get the job done. That doesn’t sound very reassuring. We need a realistic blueprint for how Florida’s ever-expanding population and robust agricultural industry that produces our food can continue to use Florida’s water resources without using them up. The only way that’s going to happen is for citizens concerned about their grandchildren’s future in Florida to become the voices that legislators ignore at the peril of their political future.

So how do you know what to think, and what to say, about the state of water resources where you live – in the Panhandle? Do you understand their current status and vulnerabilities? Threats to their near-term viability? Prospects for their long-term sustainability, complicated as they are by projections of amplified climate variability?

“Panhandle Outdoors LIVE!” is stepping it up a notch for 2016, to help you get a handle on these “need to know” issues that affect future sustainability. University of Florida Extension’s acclaimed “Panhandle Outdoors LIVE!” mode of exploring signature water resources with knowledgeable guides is not going away; it’s being expanded into “water school” events in 2016. We are adding expert presentations and discussion to the on-water, on-trail immersion learning adventures you’ve come to love.

Daily river cruises on the Wakulla River are a great way to see manatees and other unique wildlife. Photo: L. Scott Jackson

Daily river cruises on the Wakulla River are a great way to see manatees and other unique wildlife.
Photo: L. Scott Jackson

This year we’ll study four Panhandle water resources of regional significance – the Wakulla Springshed, St. Joe Bay, the Econfina Watershed, and Weeks Bay. Two are freshwater streams and their watersheds; two are bays. Two are in the eastern Panhandle; two are in the west (one even in Alabama). Two are being offered in the spring, the other two in the fall.

First up is the Panhandle Outdoors LIVE! – Wakulla Springshed School on March 1-2. It will base out of the magnificent “Old Florida” Wakulla Springs Lodge south of Tallahassee, and feature field trips to Leon Sinks Geological Area, Cherokee Sink and the Wakulla River – concluding with an optional paddle downriver from Wakulla Springs through a transition of ecosystems to historic Fort San Marcos de Apalachee, where the Wakulla joins the St. Marks River.

Next up, on April 4-5, is Panhandle Outdoors LIVE! – Weeks Bay Watershed School that will base out of the Episcopal Beckwith Camp and Retreat Center on Weeks Bay in Fairhope (Baldwin County) Alabama. This second watershed school will focus on the Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and feature a demonstration of oyster farming and a kayak paddle trip.

 

For more detailed information, and to register, for the Wakulla Springshed School visit – http://pol-2016-wakulla-springshed.eventbrite.com

For more information on the April overnight school to Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve contact Rick O’Connor at roc1@ufl.edu

For more information on the August day school on the Ecofina River contact Laura Tiu at lgtiu@ufl.edu

For more information on the September overnight school to St. Joe Bay contact Erik Lovestrand at elovestrand@ufl.edu

 

 

 

 

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Author: sheftall – sheftall@ufl.edu

Wiliam (Will) Sheftall is the Natural Resources Extension Agent for Leon County

sheftall

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/01/19/panhandle-outdoors-live-schedule-for-2016-announced/

Panhandle Outdoors LIVE! Hikes the Aucilla Sinks Trail

Panhandle Outdoors LIVE! Hikes the Aucilla Sinks Trail

Hernando de Soto and his party crossed the Aucilla River sometime in October of 1539 and celebrated Christmas in what is now Tallahassee. Many things in Florida have changed since de Soto passed this way, but when the 2015 Panhandle Outdoors LIVE! tour hiked the Aucilla Sinks portion of the Florida Trail this September, many things had not.

Panhandle residents explore the area of Aucilla Sinks with local guide David Ward. Photo: Jed Dillard

Panhandle residents explore the area of Aucilla Sinks with local guide David Ward.
Photo: Jed Dillard

Yes, the trail is maintained and marked by the Apalachee chapter of the Florida Trail Associations and there are bridges in spots, but the blood sucking bugs that bedeviled deSoto haven’t dissipated. More importantly, the spectacular and distinctive area provides a relatively easy hike that reveals the connections between geology and hydrology in an area with little disturbance by the settlers who followed the first Europeans into North Florida.

Hikers got up close and personal views of the Karst topography found in North Florida. This topography occurs as the tannic rivers and runoff dissolve the underlying limestone on their way to the aquifer. These connections and voids in the bedrock allow the Aucilla River to “come and go” above and below ground as it moves to the Gulf of Mexico as do all rivers in the Suwannee River Water Management District other than the Suwannee.

Native Jefferson county guide, David Ward pointed out the contrast between tannic water in the river channel and the clear water in caves near the river. “In those caves the water is crystal clear. You are looking at the water of the aquifer itself.”

Leon County agent Will Sheftall seized the opportunity to drive home how vulnerable Floridians are to ground water pollution and its effects on our water supply. “Here there’s little distance between the surface and the ground water. In these sandy soils, water moves quickly from the surface to the aquifer. Whatever is in that water can easily get into our ground water. Our personal activities and our public policies need to reflect that to ensure the future of Florida’s water quality.”

As we reached a slightly elevated area, Ward pointed out a longleaf pine/wiregrass community restored by reinstituting controlled burning. The open vegetation contrasts with the non-fire resistant species such as parsley hawthorn in wetter areas usually untouched by fire. “These pine savannahs were widespread when the Europeans arrived,” Ward noted. “Over my lifetime in these woods, I’ve seen appropriate management bring back these conditions closer to what we know it was like when the Europeans arrived.”

One of the many locations where the Aucilla River "rises from the limestone caverns beneath the earth. Photo: Jed Dillard

One of the many locations where the Aucilla River “rises from the limestone caverns beneath the earth.
Photo: Jed Dillard

Information on this section of the Florida Trail is available from the Apalachee Chapter of the Florida Trail Association, the Suwannee River Water Management District and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Humidity never went below 80 percent during our late morning, early afternoon trip. November will likely provide less buggy and surely less muggy conditions. If you’d like to learn about this area from the comfort of your recliner or need some extra encouragement to strike out on the walk, check out this program previously broadcast by WFSU TV. http://wfsu.org/dimensions/viewvideo.php?num=184 Either way, you’ll know more about Florida’s spectacular natural world.

 

AUTHOR:   Jed Dillard; Livestock and Forges Extension Agent; Jefferson County

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Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/11/06/panhandle-outdoors-live-hikes-the-aucilla-sinks-trail/

Panhandle Outdoors LIVE – Aucilla River Sinks Hike

A portion of the Aucilla River flows through a landscape of dramatic and unusual geologic formations. Join us for this tour to see an amazing sequence of sinks and river rises, created as the river alternately disappears into the underlying karst and resurfaces. Fringed with moss-draped trees and native palms, the sinks are pools of black water easily viewed by walking the surrounding embankments along a 4.5 mile-segment of the Florida National Scenic Trail.

Your guides will cover the human history of this wildlife-rich Aucilla River landscape, which extends back 12,000 years to the Pleistocene epoc when mastodons, saber-tooth tigers and other large mammals roamed a landscape that resembled the African savannahs of today. The 1983 unearthing of a 12,000-year old mastodon tusk exhibiting cut marks— evidence of slaughter by humans — provides some of the earliest known evidence of man on this continent.

When: Wednesday, September 30th 2015   ●   10:00 am – 4:00 pm EDT

Where: meet at JR’s Aucilla River Store, 23485 US 98, Lamont, FL 32336 (east of the Aucilla River bridge, the boundary between Jefferson and Taylor counties)

Bring: comfortable hiking boots/shoes, weather-appropriate clothing, hiking stick or trekking pole, water bottle, bug spray, day pack; lunch prepared by Tupelo’s Bakery in Monticello will be provided

Cost: $ 25.00 per adult

Register at: http://uf-extension-pol-2015-aucilla-sinks-hike.eventbrite.com

 

Space is limited.

Please feel free to share this announcement and attached flyer with those you know who may be interested. And we hope you can join us for this trip if you’ve never seen this beautiful, mysterious place.

 

Will Sheftall, for Extension Natural Resource Agents in the Panhandle

sheftall@ufl.edu

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Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/09/21/panhandle-outdoors-live-aucilla-river-sinks-hike/

Panhandle Outdoors LIVE offers Aucilla River Sinks Tour September 30

3759_55_AucillaFT_06LizS

Registration to hike the Aucilla River Sinks with your Extension Natural Resource Agents is now open to participants in previous Panhandle Outdoors LIVE! field tours. We hope you will join us for this 4.5-mile interpretive hike through one of the Panhandle’s most amazing karst landscapes and culturally significant places – home to the First Floridians!

A portion of the Aucilla River flows through a landscape of dramatic and unusual geologic formations. Join us for this tour to see an amazing sequence of sinks and river rises, created as the river alternately disappears into the underlying karst and resurfaces. Fringed with moss-draped trees and native palms, the sinks are pools of black water easily viewed by walking the surrounding embankments along a 4.5 mile-segment of the Florida National Scenic Trail.

Your guides will cover the human history of this wildlife-rich Aucilla River landscape, which extends back 12,000 years to the Pleistocene epoch when mastodons, saber-tooth tigers and other large mammals roamed a landscape that resembled the African savannas of today. The 1983 unearthing of a 12,000-year old mastodon tusk exhibiting cut marks— evidence of slaughter by humans — provides some of the earliest known evidence of man on this continent.

When: Wednesday, September 30th 2015 ● 10:00 am – 4:00 pm EDT

Where: meet at JR’s Aucilla River Store, 23485 US 98, Lamont, FL 32336 (east of the Aucilla River bridge, the boundary between Jefferson and Taylor counties)

Cost: $ 25.00 per adult

Click HERE to register.

Space is limited.

Please feel free to share this announcement and attached flyer with those you know who may be interested. And we hope you can join us for this trip if you’ve never seen this beautiful, mysterious place.

If you need more information, contact Will Sheftall at sheftall@ufl.edu

 

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Author: Libbie Johnson – libbiej@ufl.edu

Agriculture agent at UF IFAS Escambia County Extension.
http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/

Libbie Johnson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/09/19/panhandle-outdoors-live-offers-aucilla-river-sinks-tour-september-30/

Picnics: A Great Change of Pace Outdoors and Indoors

A picnic is a pleasure excursion for all ages, a delightful expedition away from the normal day. Whether at a park, at the beach, right outside under a tree, on the porch, or on the living room floor, picnics are a great way to slow down and enjoy.

Try some of these ideas for a little something different.

  • For a night time picnic, make a pizza and some popcorn inside and take them outside for movie night. Use a projector to shine your favorite movie on a white sheet that you’ve hung up on the side of the house or a shed.

    Enjoy a healthy and safe picnic this summer!

    Enjoy a healthy and safe picnic this summer!

  • Pack sandwiches cut in your favorite characters and shapes using cookie cutters.
  • Make Ka-bobs. Put veggies, fruits, bread cubes, and chilled cheeses and meats on purchased wooden sticks or skewers. Making them is as much fun as eating them.

For food safety:

Keep cold foods cold. Plan to use well insulated coolers with plenty of ice. Don’t let cold foods sit out for more than one hour outside or two hours inside. Leftovers should be put back in coolers right after serving. The longer foods stay at unsafe temperatures, the more bad bacteria can grow and cause a foodborne illness.

Keep hot foods hot. Don’t let hot foods sit out for more than one hour. Plan to eat prepared foods shortly after they are cooked.

 

When it’s a rainy day or you just want the cool of air conditioning (or even something a bit warmer if its winter), take the picnic inside.

  • Bring all the stuffed animals so everyone gets to come to the picnic. The more the merrier.
  • Build a fort with blankets and a coffee table or if you have room, put up a tent on the living room floor for your picnic.
  • Use chopsticks to eat peanut butter or other “sushi” rolls. To make this, smear peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese on a whole-wheat tortilla, put a banana in the middle, roll it up and sprinkle with cinnamon and raisins. Cut into slices. Ta da – Peanut Butter Sushi.
  • For a romantic date night, pack a loaf of crusty bread, some Brie cheese, strawberries, whipped cream, and a bottle of something bubbly. Take cloth napkins and a comfy blanket to sit on.

 

Inside or outside – have a great picnic season!

 

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Author: ahinkle – ahinkle@ufl.edu

Angela Hinkle is the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) Agent in Escambia County.

ahinkle

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/07/01/picnics-a-great-change-of-pace-outdoors-and-indoors/

Panhandle Outdoors LIVE 2013!

 

kayaksAre you interested in exploring and discovering more about the waterways and wildlife around you?  If so, Panhandle Outdoors LIVE may be right up your alley.  In 2012, natural resources Extension Agents took over 200 people on trips from Perdido to Apalachicola, and this yearlong series of hiking, boating, and kayaking trips is back by popular demand with 9 new locations.  Local experts will provide you with insight into the “real” Florida and take you to places unique to our corner of the world. We promise you’ll go home with a new appreciation for our Florida ecosystems!

The expedition schedule is as follows:

March 15: Aucilla River Sinks (Jefferson County)

March 28:  The Great Florida Wildlife Trail (Calhoun County)

April 2:  Pitcher Plants & Weeks Bay (Baldwin County, Alabama)

May 8:  Coastal Dune Lakes (Walton County, Florida)

June 6:  Yellow River & Boiling Creek (Santa Rosa County)

August 15:  Saltwater Marshes of St. Andrews Bay (Bay County)

September 24:  Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve (Franklin County)Pitcher plant bog

October 3:  Blackwater River State Forest (Santa Rosa County)

November 15:  Seagrasses & Manatees of Apalachee Bay (Wakulla County)

Each day starts at 9:30 am central/10:30 am eastern and runs to 4:00 central/5:00 eastern.  Please arrive at least 20 minutes early for each trip to ensure the events can start on time.  Depending on location, moderate walking, hiking, swimming, and/or paddling may be involved.  Lunch, park entry fees, and rentals will be provided for each participant (18 and up only) at a cost of $ 30.

Click here for registration and contact information. Space is limited, so register early!

Necessary equipment and clothing will vary based on weather and location, but participants should bring sturdy shoes, drinking water, sunscreen, and a camera to each trip. Transportation to each location will be facilitated by carpooling, and some counties may be able to provide transportation.

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Author: Carrie Stevenson – ctsteven@ufl.edu

Coastal Sustainability Agent, Escambia County Extension

Carrie Stevenson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2013/03/01/panhandle-outdoors-live-2013/

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