News & Weather Index

Hugh Branyon Backcountry TrailMay 29, 2015 - Gulf Shores, AL (GSA) - Alabama State Parks will host several guided hikes in celebration of National Trails Day on Saturday, June 6. National Trails Day was created by the American Hiking Society to promote the importance of hiking trails in the U.S. The hikes will be led by park naturalists and volunteers and will take place at various state parks throughout the state. The hikes are free and no reservations are necessary. Park entrance fees are required where applicable.
Alabama State Parks is currently facing a funding crisis that threatens to close more than half its parks. Participation in events like National Trails Day is critical to keep all 22 of Alabama’s state parks open. About 90 percent of the annual funding to operate state parks comes from user fees such as lodging, gate entries, camping and meeting space rentals.
Trails have always been a component of Alabama’s state parks. In addition to highlighting the state parks trail system, events like National Trails Day attract more visitors which, in turn, help the parks remain open.

Dauphin Island Sea Lab May 29, 2015 - Dauphin Island, AL (DIA) - Marine scientists on the Alabama Gulf Coast who work with marine mammals were beaming last week as the ribbon was cut on the new Marine Mammal Center at Dauphin Island Sea Lab.

In the past, when stranded marine mammals were studied and necropsied, it was done under tents that were pitched to keep the scientists out of the blazing sun but offered little relief from the heat and insects attracted to the decomposing animals.

Ditch the tent: They’re moving on up to the inside. The new facility will give those scientists state-of-the-art technology to study species like the West Indian manatee and the bottlenose dolphin, an animal that has suffered a significant increase in mortality in the past five years.

2015 National Shrimp Festival CrewMay 28, 2015 - Gulf Shores, AL (GSA) - Most people show up and enjoy the Annual National Shrimp Festival and don't think twice as to how the event is produced and put on.  Yet, there is a group of close to 100 volunteers that know exactly what it takes to put on the largest outdoor weekend festival in the State of Alabama.  The 2015 Annual National Shrimp Festival presented by Zatarain's will celebrate its 44th year on October 8th thru October 11th.  In order for this event to take place, a hefty amount of details must be addressed.  For twelve months each year a devoted group of committee members never stop planning for the next event.  From scheduling music entertainment to soliciting new artists, the Festival is always on their minds.

May 28, 2015 - Orange Beach, AL (OBA) - On Saturday, June 6, Alabamians will have the opportunity to fish for free in most public waters. Free Fishing Day is part of National Fishing and Boating Week, which runs June 6-14. snapper-fishingApproved by the Alabama Legislature, Free Fishing Day allows residents and non-residents to fish without a fishing license for a day in both salt and fresh waters.
The fishing license exemption on Free Fishing Day does not affect some lakes that may still require fees and permits. Fishing in a private pond requires the pond owner’s permission. Anglers can visit to find a great fishing spot for Free Fishing Day.

Hurricane Preparedness ExpoMay 28, 2015 - Gulf Shores, AL (GSA) - The City of Gulf Shores will host its annual Hurricane Preparedness Expo on Thursday, June 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Erie H. Meyer Civic Center. This free event will offer the public an opportunity to educate themselves on hurricane preparedness and about the many products and services available for before, during and after a storm.

According to Gulf Shores Emergency Management Coordinator, Brandan Franklin, the event will feature federal, state and local agencies, as well as, many local businesses that specialize in storm products and services.

“A vital part of being prepared is having an understanding of what resources are available to you,” said Franklin. “This event is setup to provide a one-stop-shop to learn helpful tips and to be introduced to the many products and services that are out there to help protect families and their property.”

Vendors expected to be in attendance include the American Red Cross, Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency, Baldwin EMC, Disaster Smart, Foamseal Insulation Services, Gulf Coast Roll-Away, IBHS, Island Enclosures and Improvements, LLC, Schneider Insurance, Smart Home America, Unified and U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

Tacky Jacks Gulf ShoresMay 26, 2015 - Gulf Shores, AL (GSA) - If you are looking for some afternoon fun this summer then look no further than Tacky Jacks in Gulf Shores. TheSummer of Funseries will feature different events to include regional artists, local organizations, and musicians each Tuesday through Friday this summer. A monthly schedule of events is online
Hands on Habitatis a fun and educational hands on nature series presented by Ocean Camp, Gulf State Park Nature Center, Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, Down Under Dive Shop, Wild Native EcoTours and the Manatee Sighting Network. Kids & adults alike can learn about our ecosystem and interact with the animals that live here with us. The event is free for all ages from 11am-12pm (arrive 15 minutes early), no RSVP required.

Flora-Bama Shindig on the SandMay 22, 2015 - Perdido Key, FL (PKF) - While state legislatures reconvene to deal with healthcare for its most needy residents, the iconic bar on the gulf straddling the state line is taking the matter in its own hands to help a group dear to this honky-tonk's 50-year heritage….its musicians.

The Flora-Bama, named one of the top "Beach Bars in the World" by CNN Travel, will be reaching out to other cultural icons and artists, to help the Gulf Coast Musicians Assistance Fund (GCMAF) keep music alive by sustaining its tradition bearers in body, mind and spirit. Over 200 musicians and 70 different musical acts on five stages are expected to perform this June 5-7.

By David Rainer
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

May 22, 2015 - Orange Beach, AL (OBA) - When the scuba-diving community considered a destination in the past, Alabama was not a location that popped up regularly.

Those who love diving along the state’s Gulf Coast hope that is rapidly changing with the latest effort to bring a new awareness of the diving opportunities in Alabama state waters and a little farther offshore.

The first step in Alabama’s effort to attract the diving world occurred two years ago when a 271-foot coastal freighter, formerly used to carry cargo for relatively short trips to coastal areas and the Caribbean, was renamed “LuLu” and sunk off the Alabama coast to great fanfare.

The Alabama Gulf Coast Reef & Restoration Foundation (AGCRRF) was formed to coordinate and raise the money for the deployment of the LuLu. Obviously, that size vessel had to be deployed in deeper water to ensure 50 feet of clearance over the top of the ship. It ended up in 110 feet of water about 17 miles offshore from Perdido Pass with coordinates of 29 degrees, 59.520 minutes and 87 degrees, 33.037 minutes.

Red Snapper Landings ReportMay 22, 2015 - Orange Beach, AL (OBA) - The Marine Resources Division reminds recreational red snapper anglers that the captain or owner of any vessel, private or charter, is required to report all red snapper kept and discarded dead prior to landing in Alabama. Only one report is required per vessel trip and anglers can provide information via one of the following methods; the Outdoor Alabama Pocket Ranger® app available in the iTunes or Google Play app stores, online at; by telephone at 1-844-REDSNAP (1-844-733-7627), or by paper forms available at select coastal public boat launches. All red snapper are required to be reported regardless of whether they were caught in Alabama’s waters, federal waters or an adjacent state’s waters.

Anglers who retain red snapper caught in waters of another state when Alabama waters are closed can land those fish in Alabama if they meet the following conditions:

Widespread Panic Flopper's Ball in Orange BeachMay 20, 2015 - Orange Beach, AL (OBA) - As a fan of Widespread Panic for 20 years and local resident for years as well, Michael Butler was taken aback when criticism rang out against the band’s appearance at The Wharf on May 22.

“It kind of stung a little bit the city official’s response to the band coming in here,” Butler said. “Although I do understand that there is a little bit of a following that comes along just for the party and not really for the music. And that’s kind of the bad element. I understand that 100 percent.”

That sting prompted Butler to action as the man behind the Flopper’s Ball. One city reaction by Councilman Jeff Silvers referred to the “floppiness” of some of the fans who came for concerts that were two- and three-day events in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Some fans flopped in doorways, garages of empty houses, woods and even grocery store aisles.

Silvers’ comment has become part of the lexicon surrounding the band and defining its fans. With a humorous slant. Several T-shirts and even posters have sprouted since.

Butler wanted to show those weren’t typical fans and like many situations, a small few caused big problems.