RECOMMENDED PLACES: Choctawhatchee Aububon Society
Introducing a property of Okaloosa County, Florida
Thanks to Okaloosa Dept of Public Works, Google Maps now shows a pin for the "Veterans Park Rookery". Even so, the 80 Great Blue Herons that nest in Veterans Park are facing development around their majestic rookery. Private citizens, CAS, USFWS, FLDEP, and FLFGC have urged County Commissioners to protect the park's birds and beautiful landscape. In January 2016 Okaloosa County added the 4-acre "R" tract (see maps) to Veterans Park. In September 2017, the County Department of Growth Management approved Tullo Planning Group's design for a County-Commissioner-suggested buffer of 84 twenty-foot-tall trees with 80% opacity and four-foot-tall sand berms (funded by Wild Willy's parent DBR Entertainment Productions, LLC) installed between Veterans Park and Wild Willy's on that "H" tract. See the Veterans Park Buffer Map. The buffer berms and trees must be installed before the onset of Wild Willey's recreational activities (e.g., electric vehicles on two racetracks). Wild Willy's Adventure Zone broke ground in October 2017, removing a dinosaur-shaped retention pond that had attracted birds for the few months it had existed. It will be replaced by a smaller but deeper retention pond by the gated entrance to the park. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission granted the County and the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance funding to remove invasive plants (including Chinese tallow, asparagus fern, and non-native marsh grass) from Veterans Park. A DEP-approved Taylor Engineering plan calls for enlarging and doubling the length of the boardwalk, adding a 500-foot-long boat pier along the bay, and installing a walking bridge and monument on the western (cattail) pond. Our continued vigilance is needed to make sure that these plans, which were preceded by worse plans (from a conservation standpoint), are executed with minimal damage to the park environment and wildlife.
Veterans Park 2017 buffer map
Aug 2016 letter to members
Lease map & photos
Letter from a Teacher
Malcolm Mark Swan
All 200+ photos organized taxonomically...
Veterans Park on Okaloosa Island, next to the Emerald Coast Convention Center, is Okaloosa County’s premier 14-acre park, featuring dune live oaks, 5 ponds, 3 marshes, tall pines, Sabal Palms (Florida state tree, aka Cabbage Palmetto or Sabal palmetto), a boardwalk, an undeveloped beach, and views of Choctawhatchee Bay. The park's unique coastal location and habitats attract hundreds of bird species each year. Much of the park's appeal for visiting birders is the prospect of seeing something unusual, including virtually any U.S. warbler at eye level. The park's long bird list (220+) is partly attributable to severe weather that interrupts migrating (and, consequently, weary and hungry) birds. For people, the adjacent Ross Marler Park offers picnic tables and restrooms.
Recent visits to watch Veterans Park birds
Total Birds at Veterans Park in 2014