- - - Baldwin County Parks and Public Accesses - - -
Foley Public Meeting November 18, 2003
by Bruce Zimmerman
The County held a meeting at Bay Minette Monday night and another meeting at Foley tonight. Cary Bentley and I showed up for the Foley meeting. The Foley meeting had 13 plus the two county employees, Stan and Cara, who were running the meeting. Stan knows some of us kayakers because we get his maps for the put-ins. I don't know of the turnout for the Bay Minette meeting. I heard from Stan that Brint Adams showed up for the Bay Minette meeting.
This meeting is a good two way communication. The county employees tell us, in a high quality slide show format, what they are doing to make our parks better. They are setting some standards for parking, for example. They have pictures of some of the better parks like Cliffs Landing and Keeny Drive East on Fish River, a FEMA acquisition. They have categorized and plotted on a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) map, the different kinds of parks and accesses the county has. The map is available at the meeting. Some parks are historic places like Mims Park, and others have environmental preservation as their goal. Some are beach parks and others are on the rivers. They acknowledge that some of these properties are not well marked; either the signs are gone or the neighbors have made the right of way a part of their yard. But the purpose of the meeting is to look ahead and not to dwell on how things were done in the past.
We had a good discussion from the public. The Mayor of Foley was present, and he had deep insight into the problems related to land title, fee simple land and developed versus undeveloped county property. We had Commissioner Price attending also. He made some helpful observations also. We had a fellow who remembers when the Marlow Ferry was operating to take cars across the Fish River; he had a depth of knowledge of the county that was helpful, since he had 12 years experience doing a similar job in the parks department.
But most of these folks were focused on getting boat ramps built for their fishing boats. Some acknowledgment of right of way access for pedestrians was thrown in too, but only if the right of way was kept discrete; they don't want their neighborhood swarming with tourists trying to get to the water.
Cara and Stan seem to be already aware of the situation in the county parks. They gave out comment sheets for us to add our comments. I recommend that we paddlers show up at the meeting in the Fairhope Courthouse Thursday at 6:30 and make comment. They have heard we have over a hundred paddlers in the club; wouldn't showing up in numbers make the impression on them? It is an opportunity to gripe, sure. But I tried to emphasize in my comments that we have a pretty good deal here. We have more put ins than we can use, if we can just find them.
And good news looking ahead, Baldwin County has acquired 400 acres on Tensaw Lake for a not-yet-opened park.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
1. Our monthly meetings are held the first Tuesday of every month at 7:00 p.m. at the Fairhope Yacht Club. Anybody and everybody is welcome to attend. There is no charge. The typical meeting lasts two hours. We start with a review of the previous month's paddles, continue with plans for and announcements of paddles for the next month, and end with a presentation. Presentations may include slide shows of past paddling trips by club members, member reviews of paddling gear, and safety and skills presentations.
2. If you e-mail a request to firstname.lastname@example.org, Julie will put you on the club's e-mail list. You will receive a monthly newsletter, which includes a calendar of events, and e-mail notices of "flash paddles" i.e., club paddles that are planned and announced on short notice. (If you used to be on Gene's e-mail list for the club and are wondering why you suddenly stopped receiving club e-mails, it's because Gene's e-mail list was suddenly and unexpectedly destroyed by his computer. You need to "re-subscribe" by e-mailing Julie, if you want to get on the new e-mail list for the club.)
3. We regularly post "want ads" for individuals seeking and selling used boats. E-mail a description of the boat desired or for sale (type, make, model, length, weight, age, condition, accessories included, etc.) to Julie at email@example.com and she will post your "want ad" to this website and e-mail it to the club membership in the next regular club e-mailing.
4. We are a group of people who enjoy paddling and sharing our experiences with others. We are not a formal organization. There are no dues, no application forms, no membership lists. All you have to do to "join" our "club" is show up at a paddle, come to a meeting, or just decide you're a member.
5. Our intention is for safety to always be the first priority. It is up to each individual to decide for him/herself whether the paddling conditions for each event are within their enjoyment and skill range. Everyone must be responsible for their decision whether to participate in each event. The coordinator of the paddle should be able to assist with information on the expected paddle conditions. However, always remember that the weather and other conditions can, and quite often do, change both quickly and dramatically. (In other words, paddle at your own risk.)
6. You should always contact the trip coordinator for any paddling trip to let them know if you plan to attend. If they don't know you are coming, trip leaders cannot contact you with changes in plans or cancellations, and you may find yourself waiting alone in a parking lot while the rest of us are off having fun somewhere else.
7. What should you bring? You should bring a PFD and drinking water on every paddle. You should also bring whatever you think you'll need in the way of snacks or meals, if anything. If we will be on the water after dark, you are required by law to bring a single, white light. (But don't turn it on unless you need it for safety and/or the trip leader tells you to. White lights ruin night vision.) We also appreciate paddlers who choose to carry a trash bag to collect litter along the way. They make it nicer for everyone.
Contact list and links:
If you would like to subscribe to the club e-mail list, or if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this website, please e-mail Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to go to the website of the West Florida Canoe Club.
Click here to go to the website for the Bartram Canoe Trail.
Click here to go the website for the U.S. Geological Survey, where you can download free maps.
Click here to go to the MBCAKC's archive of "trip reports" on past paddles. This website ranges from the informative to the poetic, and sometimes includes links to maps. You are encouraged to submit trip reports of whatever genre, as well as your favorite links.
Reminder: Permit for Boiling Creek
A current permit is required to paddle Boiling Creek in Eglin Air Force Base. The permits are good from 1 October to 30 September. They cost $5.00. (You get a map with the permit that is worth more than the fee.)
Request the Recreational Permit, which is the one for paddling. You can get the permit from one of the gates or by mail. Permits may be obtained from the Jackson Guard Office (Natural Resources Branch), located at Highway 85 North, Niceville FL 32578 (850) 882-4164. The mailing address is:
Eglin Natural Resources Branch
107 Highway 85 North
Niceville, FL 32578
For each permit requested, send a photocopy of either a driver's license or other identification card (e.g., passport) which contains a photograph, your full name, current address (including zip code), current phone number, and date of birth. Specify the type of permit (recreational) desired.
As an alternative to a photo-i.d., you can send last year's permit, if you have one.
Be prepared to wait three weeks for delivery (although recent turn-arounds have been only a few days). Payments can be by personal check, money order, or cashiers check made payable to DFAS-LI Eglin AFB. Cash is not accepted.