Buffer Preserves host 15th Bay Day Saturday

Former Star Editor Tim Croft said it best in an article in the Panhandle Beacon in 2004 when he remarked on the of St. Joseph Bay Preserves’ one-year anniversary, “People must be stakeholders in the land.”



The Friends of the Preserves remains a vibrant and active group working with the preserve manager and staff to keep St. Joseph Bay pristine and to assist in the Preserve uplands where needed.



One major task they take on twice a year is Bay Day. On the second Saturday in February, and for 2021, the third Saturday in October, the Friends organize and produce outstanding events. Fall Bay Day is just around the corner, this upcoming weekend. While the planning started many months ago, the group eagerly awaits another successful Bay Day. Immediately following the Oct. 16 event, work begins on the February Bay Day, just a mere three months away.



It was noted in the 2004 article that visiting scientists and researchers are utilizing the Preserve Lodge. Since then, many groups and individual research students have utilized the preserves for their studies. Of course, we have those colleges and universities that are close by and we have those who travel a long way to visit the Preserves and our area. The Buffer Preserve is also fortunate to have three Alternate Spring Breakers, who come from near and far and work exceptionally hard the week they are here to complete many projects to help the preserves.



If you are not familiar with the Buffer Preserve or the Aquatic Preserve, stop in for a visit at the Preserve Welcome Center and learn how the Buffer Preserve helps protect the bay through a natural filtration of the water as it descends to the bay via the watershed. St. Joseph Bay is one of the most pristine bays on the Gulf of Mexico and the goal is to keep it that way. Being the only embayed body of water on the eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico with no freshwater intrusion, keeping it heathy is our priority.



An issue that might be a little confusing to folks is the terminology used when speaking of the Aquatic Preserve and Buffer Preserve in relation to the Friends. St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve is on State Road 30-A at Simmons Bayou; the St. Joseph Bay Aquatic Preserve encompasses 73,000 submerged acres in the bay and gulf. The Friends group works to help both the Aquatic Preserve and Buffer Preserve, hence the name Friends of the Preserves, even though each preserve is a separate entity.



The Aquatic Preserve is now funded through the state with a small staff and a group of dedicated volunteers, who sample the water and use a transect to observe the seagrass to ensure the pristine condition of the water and sea grass for all that lives in the bay. These volunteers are very important to the health of the bay.



Plants are a major area of study on the Buffer Preserve, whose crop of Chapman’s rhododendrons is the largest population of its kind on public lands. Other federally or state threatened or endangered plant populations are observed and conditions created to encourage their growth. Prescribed burning is the disturbance needed to create conditions for these rare, endangered, or threatened plants to strive and survive.



As noted in the 2004 article, “membership is over 40 and climbing.” Membership is now more than 200 members and still growing. The Friends need your help and support in order to continue working to make the Preserves the best they can be and provide a place of enjoyment and learning for the public. Preserve Manager Dylan Shoemaker arrived in Jan. 2013 and has made a substantial impact at the Buffer Preserve. Aquatic Preserve Manager Jon Brucker and staff work to further promote the ongoing positive relationship between the uplands and the bay.



Check out www.stjosephbaypreserve.org for the schedule for Bay Day on Saturday. Oct. 16. This year is different with COVID and will be spread out more. The Friends invite you to join their organization by membership. They welcome participation and hope you can attend the next annual meeting in January.




Sandra Chafin is the administrative assistant at the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve. Keep informed about happenings at the preserve and with Friends of the St. Joseph Bay at stjosephbaypreserve.org or FLDEP.gov/state-buffer-preserve.



Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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