Wildlife in State Parks

WHAT: Wildlife in State Parks is the Florida State Parks Foundation’s effort to assist wildlife habitat restoration and protection, wildlife care and education in Florida’s state parks.

WHY: Florida State Parks are home to  many species of wildlife considered endangered, threatened or imperiled. Sometimes these species need extra help to ensure their survival. Park staff protect sea turtle nests, reintroduce wildlife species and conducts a variety of preservation, protection, and management techniques to restore and protect vital habitat for the wildlife who depend on Florida's state parks for their home.

NEEDS: With 175 Florida State Parks there are plenty of opportunities to help with wildlife related needs.  Below are some examples.

Habitat Restoration and Protection

  • Wildlife Monitoring Boat: Long Key State Park needs a vessel to access remotes areas of the park to conduct shorebird surveys, sea turtle nest monitoring, endangered plant species monitoring, and exotic removal.  $90,000
  • Underwater Restoration and Maintenance: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park includes  60 square miles of submerged, offshore resources (corals, seagrass, hardbottom) and they maintain a buoy system for designation and protection of these resources. This boat will provide access to accomplish this important habitat protection. $90,000  
  • Florida Grasshopper Sparrow: Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park contains the largest remaining expanse of Florida dry prairie and is home to America’s most endangered bird, the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow.  The dry prairie requires very frequent prescribed fire and the items below help manage the habitat and conduct scientific data collection on the grasshopper sparrow.
- Fire swamp buggy - $100,000
- Specialized Fire Utility Vehicle (UTV) - $20,000
- Funding for three biological technicians - $15,000/each
- Three ATVs for sparrow technicians - $10,000/each
  • Unmanned Aerial Fire Drone:  Conducting prescribed fire operations in densely covered areas or areas with limited access are a real challenge for Florida Park Service managers.  Small drones are now being used for aerial ignition during prescribed burns. This improves the effectiveness of the burn and improves staff safety. $80,000. 
  • Longleaf Pine Ecosystem Enhancement & Restoration: The bold ecosystem enhancement & restoration project encompasses 1,000 acres in four different parks; Lake Manatee State Park, Little Manatee River State Park, Hillsborough River State Park, and Alafia River State Park. This restoration includes mechanical treatment to prepare the ground and canopy structures for planting; purchase herbicides to manage problem non-native plants; purchase groundcover seed and longleaf pine trees and contract the planting and seeding work. $250,000 
  • Sea Turtle Monitoring and Protection: Managing a coastal island accessible only by boat presents some management challenges. The purchase of a UTV will enhance the staff’s ability to conduct sea turtle monitoring of the 8 miles of beach at Cayo Costa State Park.  Additional funds are to hire interns through Florida Gulf Coast College to perform sea turtle surveys. $35,000

Wildlife Care and Education

  • Nesting Sea Turtle Education: Sebastian Inlet State Park has significant sea turtle nesting activity which presents a great opportunity to educate visitors about sea turtles.  Night-time Turtle Walks required locating nesting sea turtles without disturbing them.  Night-vision goggles would assist turtle scouts who walk miles on the beach at night to find nesting turtles and provide interpretive tools during the walk for visitors. This equipment along with video recording and production equipment will enable staff to video document nesting turtles and use the footage for interpretive talks and provide ADA videos for those folks who cannot walk on the beach. $5,000 
  • Bear Protection: Bears are increasing present at Dunns Creek State Park and it’s important to protect them from seeking food from man-made sources. Providing bear-proof garbage cans and dumpsters curb their access to garbage and prevent them from becoming habituated to this unnatural food source. $20,000

HOW TO HELP: There are numerous ways to help Florida State Parks provide homes for wildlife considered endangered, threatened or imperiled.

GiveIndividual donations are needed to fund all or a portion of Wildlife in State Parks projects
Join – Become a member with a recurring membership and support our work every year!
Legacy Gift Leaving a legacy gift makes a lasting difference to the wildlife in Florida State Parks.

Next Steps: Contact Julia Woodward, Chief Executive Officer, julia@floridastateparksfoundation.org, 850-559-8914, to learn how your gift can help wildlife in Florida State Parks.

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