Florida Schoolchildren Happy to Share Park with Crayfish

The future body of the giant crayfish.

A new public park located along the shore of North Bay and McKitchen’s Bayou in Lynn Haven, Florida, is guaranteed to bring hours of fun for local residents. Once completed, in early 2021, the park will provide access to the surrounding coastal areas and new recreational facilities, and will preserve upland and wetland habitats. In recognition of the rare Panama City crayfish and its onsite habitat, the park will also include a giant crayfish climbing structure, a request of the students of nearby Deer Point Elementary School.

It’s not every day that youngsters are asked to help design a park, but it’s a common practice of one of our partners, the Trust for Public Land (TPL). With the Trustees’ approval of the project in the Phase V Early Restoration Plan, TPL managed the acquisition of the 90-acre parcel. TPL then met with the school’s students and toured the property. TPL asked the students to draw their visions for the park. As the tour included discussions about the wildlife on site, including the Panama City Crayfish, it was no surprise that the students wanted the crayfish to figure prominently in the park design.

The future claws of the giant crayfish.

The giant crayfish climbing structure will measure 25 feet in length and will be located in a natural playground area. The crayfish will make the park like no other! A long term management plan for the preserved areas aims to improve the little creature’s habitat over time.

Some of the other park amenities are more traditional and include:

  • An outdoor classroom, a two-story screened-in bay/bayou overlook, picnic pavilions, and a disc golf course.
  • Dock access to the bay and bayou will be provided for motorized boats, kayaks and fishing.
  • A bayou boardwalk, trails and wildlife viewing area with interpretive signage, including information about the Panama City Crayfish.