Horticulture meeting to feature tours of local springs

Pam Griffin The Destin Log
Ponce de León Springs SPECIAL TO THE SUN

For the Oct. 27 meeting of the Tri-County Horticulture and Environmental Studies Group, participants from Okaloosa, Walton and Santa Rose counties will learn about cold water springs as they visit Morrison Springs and Ponce de León Springs.

Activities start at 10 a.m. and last until noon.

Participants will drive to Morrison Springs first if they wish to carpool to Ponce de León Springs. Doing this may make the entrance to the state park less expensive for some people since the fee is $4 per car (maximum eight passengers).

Ponce de León Springs: From the Morrison Springs carpool site, the group will travel to Ponce de León Springs State Park for their first adventure of the day. This beautiful park is named for Juan Ponce de León, who led the first Spanish expedition to Florida in 1513 in hopes of finding the fabled “fountain of youth.”

The waters of the springs remain a constant 68 degrees year-round. Visitors can take a leisurely walk along two self-guided nature trails through a lush, hardwood forest and learn about the local ecology and wildlife. Ranger Fred will enlighten the group with information about the Ponce de León Springs and is preparing a program about taking better pictures with a cell phone.

Morrison Springs: From Ponce de León Springs State Park, the group will travel back to Morrison Springs. At that location, Marine Extension Agent Laura Tui will explain water quality and fish native to the springs, which are popular spots for scuba diving, swimming and snorkeling.

The county recently added a picnic pavilion and restroom facilities. A large wheelchair-accessible boardwalk with an overlook links the springs to the floodplain along the spring run.

A box lunch picnic will be available at Morrison Springs with sandwiches (chicken salad on croissant), fruit and chips, cookies, and beverage. Please notify Cindy Stone at 850-951-0623 or email stonejp338@gmail.com to place your order for the $10 box lunch. Money will be collected on site to pay for your lunch.

Directions: From Interstate 10, take Exit 96 onto Highway 181A. Drive for 1.5 miles, turn right onto Morrison Springs Road, and follow the road to its end.

DeFuniak Springs Garden Club is sponsoring the October meeting of the Tri-County Horticulture and Environmental Studies Group. The group is sponsored by garden clubs, master gardener groups, and individuals within the three-county area. All meetings are free and open to the public.