Scenic Highway 30A is a key part of South Walton culture and history. Extending from Inlet Beach in the east all the way to Dune Allen in the west, the 28.5-mile road navigates through many of South Walton’s beach neighborhoods, by our rare coastal dune lakes, alongside local parks and trails and next to our sugar-white sand beach.
Scenic Highway 30A provides one of the best tours through South Walton, showcasing the diversity of the South Walton landscape, architecture and culture. Its simple two-lane layout is accompanied by the famous Timpoochee Trail, which invites bikers, joggers and walkers to take in the scenery alongside the road. With local cafes, restaurants, shops and beach access points placed alongside it, Scenic Highway 30A is both a practical and precious asset to the South Walton community. It’s one reason why South Walton is so well known and celebrated by locals and visitors alike!
Thanks to organizations like Friends of Scenic 30A, Scenic Highway 30A will remain celebrated and protected for years to come. We spoke with Cliff Knauer, co-founder and treasurer of Friends of Scenic 30A, as well as Vivian Shamel, Community Outreach Specialist at Walton County Planning and Development Services, to learn more about Friends of Scenic 30A and initiatives the group has undertaken to preserve our precious environment.
Supporting The South Walton Way of Life
As any South Walton visitor or resident can tell you, the way of life here revolves around our environment — from our love of walking and biking around South Walton’s beach neighborhoods to our appreciation for locally sourced seafood and produce.
Founded in 2008, Friends of Scenic 30A helps support this way of life by preserving and protecting South Walton’s natural landscape and infrastructure. The organization was founded to meet requirements of the Florida Department of Transportation to uphold the State Scenic Highway Designation.
“There’s a reason people love visiting and living here, and that’s because many of our intrinsic natural resources have been protected,” Cliff explains. “We’re different than other areas because we’ve made a strong effort to protect and promote our environment.”
Vivian, who serves as a liaison between the county and the organization, agrees.
“30A was designated as a Florida Scenic Highway because it showcases some of the area’s best resources like our dune lakes, bike paths and beach access points,” she says. “There’s great value in maintaining, preserving and enhancing it.”
As a non-profit volunteer group, Friends of Scenic 30A considers itself “a caretaker of Scenic Highway 30A” that works to support the community and improve the area’s highways for the traveling public, which also include County Roads 393, 283 and 395.
Hands-On Support Through Targeted Initiatives
The dozens of members that make up Friends of Scenic 30A have tackled a handful of initiatives over the past eight years. Every project aligns with the group’s mission to protect and maintain Scenic Highway 30A and its surroundings; keep South Walton’s transport systems safe, efficient and cost-effective; study South Walton’s surroundings and educate the community; and support economic and tourism development in the area.
With a recently reorganized board and an ambitious list of goals for 2017, Vivian feels confident that South Walton will continue to benefit from the efforts of Friends of Scenic 30A.
“The spirit of the organization is at an all-time high right now,” she says. “In addition to the hands-on projects we’re working on, another goal of ours is to recruit more members and partner with community organizations to expand our reach.”
Currently, the group’s action plan includes more than 30 initiatives that range from corridor education and research to transportation planning and safety.
Friends of Scenic 30A has given a number of workshops regarding the use of low-speed vehicles along 30A and recently began planning efforts for a self-sustaining “rain garden” under the guidance of board member Claire Bannerman. The garden will beautify an under-utilized patch of land in Seacrest while also serving as an environmental education piece for the community.
Friends of Scenic 30A is also looking into constructing kiosks at the east and west ends of 30A to provide route resources, shade and rest for travelers. In addition to these future resources, don’t forget that you can always swing by the South Walton Visitor Center for directions, local tips and more!
Although the kiosks will be a great resource for car drivers in the future, Friends of Scenic 30A hopes that once visitors arrive in South Walton and reach their final destinations, they’ll park their cars for good.
“Of course we want to make sure that the road is pleasant to navigate for drivers, but there’s really no need to even use a car on 30A once you’re here,” Cliff says. “If you’re visiting, the best way to experience 30A is by bike or foot.”
Friends of Scenic 30A is open to South Walton residents and visitors and memberships range from $15 to $100. As a member, you’ll participate in monthly board meetings, help lead and implement projects and make a positive impact within the South Walton community.
“By becoming a member, you become part of the Friends of Scenic 30A voice,” Cliff says. “You get to promote the local economy and environment and be a part of the exciting changes ahead.”
“I’ve worked in the local government for 15 years, and 30A is one of the causes I’m most passionate about,” Vivian says. “It’s a truly special place, and I want to know that we’re working together as a community to preserve it so that people decades from now can enjoy what we do today.”
Be sure to follow Friends of Scenic 30A for updates on their projects and to help support the South Walton way of life!