Have some fun!

Please Note: current members will have to modify their existing registration to add the tour.  Non-members will need to use their registration email to modify their registration.  We are happy to assist with anyone having issues with this, just email for help.

Mexico Beach


Wednesday, April 24, 8:30 am
Meet at FFMA Registration Desk in the Magnolia Foyer

Tour guide:  Del Schwalls – FFMA Past Chair and part time Mexico Beach resident

Physical Demands:  Minimal walking and bus has accessibility accommodations.

Tour Mexico Beach with our own Del Schwalls and see what recovery looks like almost 5 years after Hurricane Michael.  Del has unique insight into the area as his family owns property in this unique and close-knit community.

9:00 – Leave Grand Sandestin

9:10 – 11:00 – Video and presentations on the bus to prepare for the visit

11:00 – Local Welcome

12:00 – Lunch local included in the tour fee (TBD)

1:00 – 3:00 – Tour the area in person to see locations of flood impacts and efforts to mitigate

3:00 – Leave Mexico Beach

3:00 – 5:00 – Additional Video to educate

5:00 – Arrive at Grand Sandestin

Click map to enlarge

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Tour


Friday, April 26, 8:00 am
Meet at Conference Registration Desk

Topsail Hill Preserve and Walton County are one of only five places in the world containing coastal dune lakes. On this personalized park tour, we will visit two of Topsail’s dune lakes and discuss the dune lake ecosystem and what makes them unique. We’ll view a dune lake outfall and glacier-deposited 12,000-year-old white quartz sand, part of Topsail’s 3.2 miles of pristine beachfront. Along the way, we’ll point out some of the park’s historical features relating to the turpentine industry and WWII military exercises and highlight some of the imperiled plant and animal species found in the area. We’ll see the results and discuss the role of prescribed fire in natural communities management, then we’ll conclude with an optional kayak/canoe/paddleboard excursion on Campbell Lake, Topsail’s largest dune lake.

The tour will begin at the Topsail day use parking area next to the ranger station and proceed along the paved tram road to the Campbell Lake outfall adjacent to the beach access boardwalk (blue trail on the map.) We will then traverse the park visit via the Campbell Lake Road and Deer Track trail to access Morris Lake on the Old Growth trail (yellow to orange to red trails on map.) We’ll then cross the northern section of the preserve and conclude at Campbell Lake, where the boat launch and picnic area are located (yellow circle on map.)

Tour guide:  Park Services Specialist Brian Halterman

Physical Demands:  Minimal walking and the tram has ramps for accessibility.

Bring sunglasses, sunscreen, outdoor wear to keep you comfortable for up to 2 hours in the sun.

Tour Limit:  25

Click map to enlarge

Deer Lake State Park Wetland Restoration Tour


Friday, April 26, 8:30 am
Meet at Conference Registration Desk

Visit one of the largest wetland restoration projects occurring in Northwest Florida.  Tour Deer Lake State Park and learn about ongoing wetland restoration projects, restoring sheet flow and species diversity within several habitats of the park.  Once covered in heavy titi forests, Florida Park Service personnel, working through a National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) grant, have removed a tremendous amount of titi biomass from several of the park’s wet prairie and stream side seepage slope habitats.  Followed by the reintroduction of seasonal prescribed fires, and with assistance from Atlanta Botanical Gardens which assists the Florida Park Service with propagation and the reintroduction native wetland species, this 300-acre wetland restoration project has transformed these once dominated titi forests into beautiful examples of wet prairie and seepage slope habitats dominated by a wide diversity of herbaceous plants, including many carnivorous species such as pitcher plants, butterworts and sundews.  These wet prairie and seepage slopes also make up the drainage ways that funnel the local watershed into the parks rare coastal dune lakes, restoring both the quality and quantity of water entering these globally significant freshwater coastal dune lakes.

Click here to visit the Florida State Parks website which explains the process involved.

Tour guide:  Chris Whittle and Park Employee

Physical Demands:  Light walking, less than ¼ mile

Bring sunglasses, sunscreen, outdoor wear to keep you comfortable for up to 2 hours in the sun.

Tour Limit:  25