Panhandle Butterfly House celebrates its future in time for local monarch migration

Posted on October 18, 2017 by Romi White

The Panhandle Butterfly House this weekend will celebrate the annual migration of the monarch butterfly through our area, but the organization has another reason to cheer after Santa Rosa County Commissioners last week approved a new, expanded facility for the group inside Navarre Park.

“With the approval of the Navarre Park master plan, the Panhandle Butterfly House now has their forever home,” Commission Chairman Rob Williamson told South Santa Rosa News on Tuesday.

PBH volunteers during the approval process pleaded with commissioners to fund proposed park improvements using a portion of county tourist tax revenues, pointing out their facility attracts around 13,000 visitors each year.

Commissioners October 12 unanimously approved funding not only Phases 1A and 1B of the park’s master plan, which includes a new $373,000 2,500-square-foot PBH vivarium, but also the board decided to move forward now with a proposed future $560,000 1,500-square-foot PBH learning center, which will enable the facility to stay open more than four months each year with heating and cooling in the new building.

“Commissioner Williamson did a bit of hard work pushing for the renovation of a world class Navarre Park,” PBH volunteer Mary Peterzen said.

The current PBH will be demolished and the new facility will be constructed adjacent to the Santa Rosa County Visitor’s Information Center as part of the planned park improvements.

Graphic depicts current location of butterfly house (marked by an “X”) and future buildings (within red outline)

In addition to PBH improvements, the park’s master plan includes storm water runoff and water quality improvements, a new $320,000 public restroom on the east side of the park, a $230,000 sea wall, a new $740,000 ADA-compliant playground and splash pad and more than $850,000 for infrastructure, such as additional parking spaces.

The 11th Annual Monarch Madness Butterfly Festival will take place from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Friday, October 20 and Saturday, October 21. The family-friendly event offers games, displays, kid crafts, and, of course, plenty of butterflies.

Volunteers use various fun-filled techniques to teach children about the life cycle of butterflies