CBA – Students Study the Coast

The Seaside Neighborhood School students stepped off the bus to Inlet Beach, surrounded by dunes and facing the beautiful aquamarine of the Gulf of Mexico. To start their yearlong Dunes in Schools program, the seventh graders plant the very sea oats that other students raised the year before, beginning a new cycle of environmental education and…

Coastal Angler – Pinfish Grand Nationals

Over 80 teams of kids and their adult sponsors fanned out across Niceville’s Bluewater Bay Marina for the Pinfish Grand Nationals. Children sixteen and under strung bait on monofilament lines, flung them over the side of the wooden marina docks, and paddled in kayaks. Read the rest of the article at the Coastal Angler! Page…

Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance – Fish ID

The hot summer sun bounces off the water’s surface on Western Lake in Walton County. Challen Hyman, joint environmental research scientist with the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) and Mattie M. Kelly Environmental Institute​ at Northwest Florida State College (MKEI), readies a seine net, as Brandy Foley, CBA monitoring coordinator, checks their location. Richie Gray, MKEI…

Hook and Trigger – Bringing Touch Tanks to Kids

Just after dawn breaks in Northwest Florida, Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) staff and AmeriCorps team members are up to their knees in the calm waters of the bay. Working in pairs, they use long seine nets to scoop up aquatic critters, carefully transferring them to a cooler for transport to elementary schools in Okaloosa and…

Hook and Trigger – Keeping an Eye on Algae

Bruce and Susan had already unloaded their aluminum jon boat into Fuller Lake when I arrived on a windy afternoon with a kayak. Located within the Coffeen Nature Preserve and bordered by tall pines and titi trees, Fuller is a coastal dune lake that in turn drains into Morris Lake before intermittently outfalling into the…

Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance – CBA and Eglin AFB Complete New Reef

Only July 26th, 2018, CBA staff and AmeriCorps Northwest Florida Environmental Stewards completed a 750 linear foot reef within Eglin AFB’s Alaqua Bayou. Reef breakwaters reduce shoreline erosion, provide habitat for wildlife, and create critical structure for native oysters. The reef is one of three major living shoreline initiatives built on Eglin in 2017 and…

CBA – Coastal Dune Lakes & Co-existing

In early May of 2018, Eastern Lake in Walton County burst through a sand barrier. Water rushed through the newly created opening into the Gulf of Mexico, mixing the brown-hued currents of the lake with the bright green waves of the saltwater. Eastern Lake was experiencing an outfall event. Read more in the Seaside Times!…

CBA: May Field Trips

CBA organized and facilitated 20 field trips for 18 elementary schools in Okaloosa and Walton Counties to bring 3rd and 5th graders to the shores of the Choctawhatchee Bay. A culmination of the year-long Grasses in Classes curriculum, the students planted smooth cordgrass they have raised since October of 2017 to create brand new living shorelines that both reduce…

Coastal Angler – Oyster Gardening

Jennifer McPeak, a Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) Oyster Gardener volunteer, showed me to her dock on a serene Destin bayou. The fall sunshine and clear blue sky had combined to create a beautiful morning, and mullet splashed in the shallows while a Great Blue Heron stalked prey among the reeds nearby. Kneeling carefully against the…

Hook and Trigger – Keeping Balance in the Bay

On an early fall morning, Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) Director Alison McDowell and her CBA colleagues waded into a Choctawhatchee Bay bayou with seine nets. Moving slowly through the cool water, they scooped up minnows in small dip nets before depositing them into waiting tanks. Crouching at the edge of the shoreline, they peered through…