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  • 10/21/2021 8:08 AM | Lauren Kelly-Manders (Administrator)

    The Florida State Parks Foundation has announced its Board Officers for 2021-2022 to provide critical leadership to ensure the organization’s continued growth and success.

    Officers elected at yesterday’s annual meeting are Tammy Gustafson, Board President; Kathleen Brennan, President Elect; Gil Ziffer, Immediate Past President; Audrine Finnerty, Treasurer; and Emily Lewis, Secretary.

    “I am delighted to announce our new board officers”, said Julia Gill Woodward, Foundation CEO. “These individuals bring a wealth of experience and expertise in their fields and will be tremendous assets to the Foundation as we further our mission of supporting Florida’s fabulous award-winning state parks, the best in the nation.”

    Tammy Gustafson is a senior executive at Universal Orlando responsible for Sales Integration across the global sales divisions and working with international teams located in Latin America and the UK. She joined Universal Orlando in September of 1997 as part of the Universal Studios Marketing team and was responsible for building the Universal Studios Florida brand on a global basis- growing to three theme parks, a night-time entertainment complex and eight onsite resorts.

    Appointed by the Governor’s office to the Florida Commission on Tourism, Gustafson served as President of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors from 2014-15 and has been on the board since 2005. She currently serves on the Florida Council of Tourism Leaders. She has also served on the board for the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce/Osceola Resort Area Council and served as a Past President and Treasurer of the Florida State Parks Foundation. Gustafson brings years of experience and extensive travel industry knowledge to these organizations and has been a part of Leadership Florida, Leadership Orlando, the Greater Orlando Sports Commission and the Central Florida Chapter of the American Marketing Association.

    “Throughout its history, the Florida State Parks greatest strength has been its volunteers. I am honored to be asked to serve in this capacity,” said Tammy Gustafson, Foundation President. “The best and brightest minds are coming together to help guide and preserve the Real Florida. It is an exciting time for the Foundation as we work toward the Strategic Goals for the coming year.”

    The Foundation, founded in 1993 as Friends of Florida State Parks and renamed in 2018, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation whose mission is to support and help sustain the Florida Park Service, its 175 award-winning parks and trails, local Friends groups and more than 20,000 park volunteers.

    It does this through programs that preserve and protect state parks, educate visitors about the value of state parks, encourage community engagement and active use of state parks, and advocacy. The volunteer Board of Directors represent private and public sectors as well as local and statewide interests.

  • 10/18/2021 8:00 AM | Lauren Kelly-Manders (Administrator)

    L to R: Indian River Community Foundation CEO, Jeffrey Pickering and St. Sebastian River Preserve Park Manager, Dylan Gavagni.

    The Florida State Parks Foundation is delighted to announce a $25,000 grant from the Indian River Community Foundation to help save the endangered Red-cockaded woodpecker at St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park.

    Red-cockaded woodpeckers, once common in the longleaf pine forests that once grew across Florida, are now found in only about 10 locations in the state, one of which is St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park in Fellsmere.

    “The survival of this rare woodpecker is now dependent on human intervention to ensure they have food, shelter and suitable nesting sites,” said Foundation CEO Julia Gill Woodward. The preservation of their existing habitat in Indian River County is crucial, and the Florida Park Service is well-positioned to fulfill this need thanks to their experience with land management and their understanding of species conservation.

    The grant will help support the purchase of a Bobcat 5600 Toolcat, a vital piece of equipment needed by park staff to increase and then maintain the birds’ habitat.  It will also be able to manage sensitive areas that larger equipment cannot reach.

    “Given the enormity of the problems that philanthropy is often called on to address, this grant represents something very specific that our Community Foundation can do to make a meaningful difference in our local environment,” said Indian River Community Foundation President and CEO Jeff Pickering.  “Extinction is forever, and our support of this project is something that we are proud to provide to give these special birds a fighting chance at long-term survival.”

    Florida scrub-jays, another federally threatened species, as well as Florida’s only endemic bird species, are also found in this park. Both birds are considered “keystone” species, meaning that many other animals and plants are dependent on their presence for survival. If the habitat is managed for the well-being of these two species, it will increase the biodiversity of the entire local ecosystem. 

    St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park is also an important part of the nature-based rural tourism economy of Fellsmere and surrounding areas. It receives about 57,000 visitors per year and contributes almost $6 million to the local economy. It will continue to grow as a birding destination if these two species continue to thrive. 

    The Foundation, founded in 1993 as Friends of Florida State Parks and renamed in 2018, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation whose mission is to support and help sustain the Florida Park Service, its 175 award-winning parks and trails, local Friends groups and more than 20,000 park volunteers.  

    It does this through programs that preserve and protect state parks, educate visitors about the value of state parks, encourage community engagement and active use of state parks, and advocacy.

    The volunteer Board of Directors represent private and public sectors as well as local and statewide interests.

  • 09/28/2021 8:00 AM | Lauren Kelly-Manders (Administrator)

    HOMOSASSA, FL - Senate President Wilton Simpson, who represents District 10, visited the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park yesterday as a guest of the Florida State Parks Foundation and the Florida Park Service.

    The visit, ahead of next January’s Legislative Session, was to brief President Simpson about new developments at the park and to discuss issues affecting all of Florida’s 175 award-winning parks and trails. 

    President Simpson has long made the environment a priority, especially the Everglades. In 2013, he successfully introduced legislation dealing with the restoration of the Everglades, which allocated $880 million for water quality restoration and $32 million to be spent annually on reducing the amount of phosphorus that flows into the region.

    “We appreciate President Simpson spending time at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park today and for his commitment to our state parks and trails,” said Florida State Parks Foundation Vice President Don Philpott. 

    “It’s always a great day when you get a chance to visit one of Florida’s nationally-recognized, award-winning state parks,” said President Simpson. “I am grateful to the dedicated women and men within our state park system who work hard each and every day to welcome visitors from around the state and across the country. Preserving the beautiful natural resources of our state for future generations to enjoy has and will continue to be a priority for me and my colleagues in the Florida Senate.” 

    “Not only are our parks natural treasures, but economic generators as well. Our award-winning state parks attract 24 million visitors from around the world, have an economic impact to the state of $2.2 billion and support more than 31,000 jobs,” Philpott said. “And, as 2020 clearly demonstrated, Florida’s state parks play an important role in providing open spaces where people can recreate and exercise in a safe, socially distanced environment.”

    The 200-acre Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park attracts more than 228,000 visitors a year and generates more than $21.4 million to the state’s economy as well as supporting 300 local jobs. 

    The Foundation, founded in 1993 as Friends of Florida State Parks and renamed in 2018, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation whose mission is to support and help sustain the Florida Park Service, its 175 award-winning parks and trails, local Friends groups and more than 20,000 park volunteers.

    It does this through programs that preserve and protect state parks, educate visitors about the value of state parks, encourage community engagement and active use of state parks, and advocacy.

    The volunteer Board of Directors represents private and public sectors as well as local and statewide interests. 

  • 09/20/2021 10:49 AM | Lauren Kelly-Manders (Administrator)


    TALLAHASSEE – The Florida State Parks Foundation today awarded the 2021 Park Champions of the Year Award to Senator Dennis Baxley and Representative Allison Tant.

    The award is presented annually to the person or persons deemed to have made the most outstanding contribution to help sustain, protect and preserve Florida’s award-winning state parks. 

    Senator Baxley and Representative Tant each led efforts in the Florida Legislature to create a specialty license plate in support of Florida’s state parks. Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill authorizing the plate into law in June, and the Foundation unveiled the plate’s final design during Monday’s press conference. 

    “We are delighted to honor Senator Dennis Baxley and Representative Allison Tant, both as passionate supporters of Florida’s award-winning state parks and for their successful efforts in championing a specialty license plate in this year’s legislative session,” Foundation President Gil Ziffer said at a press conference held at the Florida Capitol. 


    “The Florida State Parks specialty license plate that they helped pass through their respective chambers will provide significant and ongoing funding to enable us to protect and preserve Florida’s state parks,” he added.

    Senator Baxley was unable to attend the press conference due to a scheduling conflict, but will be presented his award at a later time.

    “Florida's award winning state parks are the jewel of Florida, showcasing the natural wonders of our state.  It was an honor to lead the charge in the House in the creation of a license plate to dedicate funding to the protection, preservation and improvements to the precious land and water that are enjoyed by nearly 24 million residents and visitors last year.  It was a treat for me to work with my colleagues in the House as we took this vital step for our state park system.  I look forward to purchasing my own state park license plate as soon as it's ready. I will remain committed to our state parks for the rest of my life,” said Representative Tant.

    The Florida Park Service manages 800,000 acres of land for public recreational use. The 175 state parks contain 948 historic structures and more than 1,500 archaeological sites all of which must be protected and preserved. There are more than 100 miles of pristine beaches, thousands of miles of hiking, biking, equestrian and paddling trails, 2,769 miles of roads, 171 bathhouses, 363 restrooms, 570 pavilions – and even four lighthouses.

    “As the last 18 months have clearly demonstrated, Florida’s state parks play an important role in providing open spaces where people can recreate and exercise in a safe, socially distanced environment,” Ziffer said. “The demand for these open spaces will continue to increase as Florida’s population is expected to top 23 million by 2025 as tourism numbers continue to grow.”

    “To meet this growing demand, it is important that state parks continue to provide exceptional value in terms of visitor experience and the range of outdoor pursuits available. It is also important that these pursuits are available to the widest possible audience both in terms of accessibility and diversity,” he added.  

    The Foundation, founded in 1993 as Friends of Florida State Parks and renamed in 2018, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation whose mission is to support and help sustain the Florida Park Service, its 175 award-winning parks and trails, local Friends groups and more than 20,000 park volunteers.  

    It does this through programs that preserve and protect state parks, educate visitors about the value of state parks, encourage community engagement and active use of state parks, and advocacy.

    The volunteer Board of Directors represents private and public sectors as well as local and statewide interests.

  • 09/09/2021 9:48 AM | Lauren Kelly-Manders (Administrator)

    More than 50 beach wheelchairs are now available at Florida state parks thanks to the continuing partnership between the Florida State Parks Foundation and the Surfing's Evolution & Preservation Foundation.

    The beach wheelchairs can be used in areas with soft sand where conventional wheelchairs would get stuck. They can even be wheeled into shallow waters. Ten coastal parks around the state each received one wheelchair earlier this summer and now another 42 have been delivered to beach parks. Some parks now have two wheelchairs available. 

    “Increasing accessibility for all is one of our missions and these beach wheelchairs will allow people with mobility problems the opportunity to get on the beach with their family and friends. They will help create a new experience for them,” said Florida State Parks Foundation President Gil Ziffer.

    Surfing’s Evolution & Preservation Foundation, Inc. is a charitable organization founded by surfing legend Ron DiMenna and his wife Lynne, to recognize the importance of the beach and surfing lifestyle in Florida and protect these beaches for future generations to enjoy. Their focus is on keeping the beaches safe and healthy, by supporting programs and events of other organizations that support beaches and oceans and promote education on beach safety. 

    “Surfing's Evolution & Preservation Foundation is excited to expand our partnership with the Florida State Parks Foundation to ensure every coastal Florida State Park now has a beach accessible wheelchair. We believe that our beaches should be enjoyed by everyone, and we are so pleased to be able to increase accessibility for people who may not be able to get on the beach without assistance,” said Jacquie Youngs, Foundation Administrator. 

    “It is our hope that these Sand Rider (sandriderusa.com) beach wheelchairs will be enjoyed by many beach lovers for years to come. To support Surfing’s Evolution & Preservation Foundation, and to learn about our Endless Summer® specialty license plate, please visit: www.preservesurfingbeaches.org.”

    State parks offering the beach wheelchairs include Amelia Island, Anastasia, Anclote Key, Avalon, Bahia Honda, Bald Point, Big Lagoon, Big Talbot, Bill Baggs Cape Florida, Caladesi Island, Camp Helen, Cayo Costa, Curry Hammock, Deer Lake, Delnor-Wiggins Pass, Don Pedro Island, Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson, Egmont Key, Fort Clinch, Fort Pierce Inlet, Fort Zachary Taylor, Gamble Rogers, Gasparilla Island, Grayton Beach, Henderson Beach, Honeymoon Island, Hugh Taylor Birch, John D. MacArthur Beach, John Pennekamp Coral Reef, Lignumvitae Key, Little Talbot Island, Long Key, Lovers Key, Oleta River, North Peninsula, Perdido Key, St. Andrews, St. George Island, St. Joseph Peninsula, St. Lucie Inlet, San Pedro, Sebastian Inlet, Stump Pass, Topsail Hill and Washington Oaks Gardens State Parks.

    The Florida State Parks Foundation, founded in 1993 as Friends of Florida State Parks and renamed in 2018, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation whose mission is to support and help sustain the Florida Park Service, its 175 award-winning parks and trails, local Friends groups and more than 20,000 park volunteers.  

    It does this through programs that preserve and protect state parks, educate visitors about the value of state parks, encourage community engagement and active use of state parks, and advocacy.

    The volunteer Board of Directors represents private and public sectors as well as local and statewide interests.

  • 08/26/2021 12:56 PM | Lauren Kelly-Manders (Administrator)


    OCALA, Fla. – The first wheelchair-accessible glass-bottom boat to join the Silver Springs State Park fleet was officially dedicated today.

    The Florida State Parks Foundation commissioned Lay, Pitman & Associates Naval Architects to design the 37-foot boat, which includes a flat deck and spacious aisles providing easy and convenient access for wheelchairs. It is also equipped with an induction-loop system that assists passengers using hearing aids to listen to the captain's narration. 

    “We are committed to making nature and our award-winning state parks accessible to all,” said Foundation President Gil Ziffer. “This new wheelchair-accessible boatallows everyone to enjoy the famous glass-bottom-boat tours at Silver Springs, which have been operating since the 1870s.”

    In keeping with the tradition of naming the glass-bottom boats at Silver Springs after Seminole tribal chiefs, the new boat is named Chief Potackee – Betty Mae Tiger Jumper, after the only woman to serve as chief of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. 

    Paula Russo, a former president of the Florida State Parks Foundation, initially advocated for a wheelchair-accessible glass-bottom boat and for the last several years has worked tirelessly to bring it into existence. 

    The vessel was built at the St. Johns Ship Building shipyard near Palatka. 

    “I’m so glad that this day is finally here,” said Russo, who uses a wheelchair. “Silver Springs is a magnificent example of Florida’s natural beauty, and everyone deserves the opportunity to experience all that it offers.”

    Rep. Stan McClain, Rep. Allison Tant, Sen. Dennis Baxley and Sen. Keith Perry were among the community leaders to speak at the dedication ceremony.

    Moses Jumper Jr., the son of the boat’s namesake and Associate Justice, Snake Clan, Seminole Tribe of Florida, was also among the event’s featured speakers.

    “Since Silver Springs became a state park, we have been committed to making the park a world-class destination,” said Florida State Parks Director Eric Draper. “Our goal of access for all is realized with this new glass-bottom boat available for people who use wheelchairs. 

    In addition to the Foundation, a consortium of public and private partners helped fund the boat, including the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, the Felburn Foundation, the Delores Barr Weaver Legacy Fund, the Florida Park Service, Friends of Silver Springs State Park and Cape Leisure. 

    “Generous donors to the Florida State Parks Foundation are funding important projects and programs and making a difference in many Florida State Parks,” Draper added. “We are so very grateful.”   

    The Florida State Parks Foundation, founded in 1993 as Friends of Florida State Parks and renamed in 2018, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation whose mission is to support and help sustain the Florida Park Service, its 175 award-winning parks and trails, local Friends groups and more than 11,000 park volunteers.  

    It does this through programs that preserve and protect state parks, educate visitors about the value of state parks, encourage community engagement and active use of state parks, and advocacy.

    The volunteer Board of Directors represents private and public sectors as well as local and statewide interests.

    Reaction from Florida legislators in attendance:

    Sen. Dennis Baxley: “It is very exciting to see this finally come to fruition and ensure that all of our residents, no matter their physical limitations, are able to enjoy glass-bottom boat tours at Silver Springs State Park.”

    Sen. Stan McClain: “It is a wonderful day. The new all-accessible glass-bottom boat takes a huge step in opening up the beautiful Silver Springs for everyone to enjoy!”

    Sen. Keith Perry: “As a Senator whose district includes the Ocala National Forest, we are lucky that there are more than 600 lakes, rivers and springs to explore in our area. You can swim, canoe or kayak to enjoy the springs. It is the perfect place for people to enjoy nature and see some of old Central Florida.” 

    Rep. Allison Tant: “I am thrilled to see our Florida State Parks focus on inclusivity for individuals with disabilities. I salute the Florida State Parks Foundation for ensuring that all our beautiful parks are accessible for everyone to enjoy.”

  • 08/16/2021 1:30 PM | Lauren Kelly-Manders (Administrator)


    From left to right: Eric Kiefer, Assistant Park Manager, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park; LeAnn Hinson, Park Manager, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park; Juliet Roulhac, Director External Affairs, FPL; Katherine MacGregor, VP Environmental Services, FPL; Gale Butler, Executive Director of Friends of Hugh Taylor Birch; Meredith Rollo, Sustainability & Outreach Manager, Environmental Services, FPL; Kevin Jones, Bureau Chief, District 5, Florida Park Service

    A six-person wheelchair accessible electric tram is in service at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park thanks to a substantial grant from Florida Power & Light Company (FPL). 

    The $22,000 grant to the Florida State Parks Foundation was made available through FPL’s charitable arm, the NextEra Energy Foundation. Last year they also helped fund a similar tram at John. D. MacArthur Beach State Park in North Palm Beach.

    “These trams are an amazing asset for our state parks,” said Julia Gill Woodward, Florida State Parks Foundation CEO. “They are a great boost to visitors who use wheelchairs and they are eco-friendly.”

    “Our Foundation and the Florida Park Service are committed to making our award-winning state parks more accessible and this new tram will not only lower emissions and be less noisy but will enable our mobility-impaired visitors the opportunity to see much more of the state park’s incredible natural areas.”

    The MotoEV Electro Neighborhood Buddy six passenger tram has a four-kw AC motor for less maintenance and more torque to climb tough terrain. It can travel 50 miles on a single charge and costs about one penny a mile. The onboard chargers also allow the vehicle’s batteries to be topped up at any charging stations.

    “Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is known as an oasis where Florida residents and visitors can explore the beaches, trails, coastal mangroves and enjoy activities in natural surroundings,” said Kate MacGregor, FPL vice president of environmental services. “FPL is thrilled to donate this tram to help Floridians more easily access this beautiful park in a sustainable way.” 

    The Florida State Parks Foundation supports the work of Florida’s award-winning 175 state parks and the more than 20,000 volunteers who donate 1.2 million hours of their time annually. Florida’s parks attract 29 million visitors every year and have a statewide economic impact of more than $2.6 billion. 

  • 07/26/2021 8:00 AM | Lauren Kelly-Manders (Administrator)


    Representative Paul Renner, who represents District 24, visited Washington Oaks Gardens State Park on Friday as a guest of the Florida State Parks Foundation and the Florida Park Service.

    Representative Renner, a retired naval veteran and attorney, will be Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives from 2022-24. The Palm Coast visit was to brief him about new developments at the park and to discuss issues affecting all of Florida’s 175 award-winning parks and trails.

    Florida State Parks Foundation President Gil Ziffer stressed both the environmental and economic importance of the state parks. “Our state parks attract 28 million visitors from around the world, have an economic impact to the state of $2.4 billion and support more than 33,500 jobs,” he said. 

    “And, as 2020 clearly demonstrated, Florida’s state parks play an important role in providing open spaces where people can recreate and exercise in a safe, socially distanced environment,” he said.

    "We had a wonderful visit at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park, where friendly staff and volunteers shared their vast knowledge of native plant species, preservation practices, and the rich history of the Gardens," said Representative Renner. "Thank you to the individuals working at Washington Oaks Gardens and across our State Parks System for their dedication to ensuring that  our 175 award-winning Florida State Parks and Trails continue to provide a substantial environmental and economic benefit to our state," he added. 

    The formal gardens are the centerpiece of Washington Oaks, with remarkable displays of native and exotic plant species such as azaleas, camellias, and bird of paradise. The gardens offer visitors a peaceful stroll through winding reflection ponds which are sheltered by a picturesque oak hammock. Washington Oaks is also famous for the unique shoreline of coquina rock formations that line its Atlantic beach. 

    Washington Oaks Gardens State Park attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year, supports more than 130 local jobs and has an economic impact of more than $10 million a year.

    The Foundation, founded in 1993 as Friends of Florida State Parks and renamed in 2018, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation whose mission is to support and help sustain the Florida Park Service, its 175 award-winning parks and trails, local Friends groups and more than 20,000 park volunteers.

    It does this through programs that preserve and protect state parks, educate visitors about the value of state parks, encourage community engagement and active use of state parks, and advocacy.

    The volunteer Board of Directors represents private and public sectors as well as local and statewide interests.

  • 06/30/2021 8:00 AM | Lauren Kelly-Manders (Administrator)

    Last night, Governor DeSantis signed the enabling bill that authorizes a specialty license plate for Florida’s award-winning state parks.

    “We are grateful that the Governor has signed this bill. It will have a huge impact on our fabulous state parks,” said Gil Ziffer, President of the Florida State Parks Foundation, which sponsored the legislation. Pre-sales of the specialty plate will start in October.

    “Thanks to overwhelming bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate, the Florida State Parks specialty license plate is now a reality”, he said. “It is extremely unusual for an enabling bill like this to go through in just one legislative session but that demonstrates how much support it had in both chambers,” he said. 

    “Special thanks go to Senator Dennis Baxley and Representative Allison Tant for successfully championing the bill,” he said.

    “Our Florida State Parks are a wonderful resource for our citizens to learn, grow and play. Our parks need to be protected and I am excited to get this license plate bill passed and help provide some much-needed funding to preserve these state treasures,” said Senator Dennis Baxley, who sponsored the bill in the Senate. 

    House Bill sponsor, Representative Allison Tant said, “The Florida State Parks specialty license plate will provide funding to address crumbling infrastructure, improve structures, preserve animal and plant habitats, and provide more ADA certified improvements to increase access to the great outdoors”.                          

    “The approval of the specialty state park license plate is significant and will provide impactful and ongoing funding to enable us to protect and preserve the nation’s best state park system," said Foundation CEO Julia Gill Woodward.

    “Although our state parks are the only four-time National Gold Medal winners for excellence, there is much that needs to be done to ensure they continue to be recognized as world leaders. Funds from this specialty license plate will help us achieve this,” she said.

    “Florida’s state parks offer safe environments to recreate and socialize. The demand for these open spaces will continue to increase as Florida’s population is expected to top 23 million by 2025 and tourism numbers grow,” she added. 

    “To meet this growing and important role it is important that state parks continue to provide exceptional value in terms of visitor experience and the range of outdoor pursuits available. It is also important that these pursuits are available to the widest possible audience both in terms of accessibility and diversity." 

    The Foundation, founded in 1993 as Friends of Florida State Parks and renamed in 2018, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation whose mission is to support and help sustain the Florida Park Service, its 175 award-winning parks and trails, local Friends groups and more than 20,000 park volunteers.

    It does this through programs that preserve and protect state parks, educate visitors about the value of state parks, encourage community engagement and active use of state parks, and advocacy.

    The volunteer Board of Directors represents private and public sectors as well as local and statewide interests.

  • 06/24/2021 8:30 AM | Lauren Kelly-Manders (Administrator)

    An eleven-person wheelchair accessible electric tram went into service this week at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park thanks to a $30,000 grant from the St. Joe Community Foundation to the Florida State Parks Foundation.

    “This accessible electric tram, made possible by the St. Joe Community Foundation’s very generous grant, is a great boost to visitors who use wheelchairs enabling them to see more of Topsail’s incredible natural areas,” said Gil Ziffer, Florida State Parks Foundation President.

    “Both the Foundation and the Florida Park Service are working to make our award-winning state parks ever more accessible, and this new tram is part of our commitment to this end. Electric trams also provide lower emission and less noise, leading to a more enjoyable experience for the park visitor,” he added.

    “This project, which will provide greater access to the park for all visitors, aligns with the values of the St. Joe Community Foundation”, said April Wilkes, St. Joe Community Foundation Executive Director, “We are pleased to assist the Florida State Parks Foundation with another regional state park enhancement to better the visitor experience at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park.”  

    Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is a 1,640-acre Florida State Park located in Santa Rosa Beach, ten miles east of Destin. The park is named for its dunes, which rise like ship’s sails over soft sand beaches and the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Topsail Hill offers three miles of pristine beaches and attracts over 200,000 visitors annually. 

    The Florida State Parks Foundation, founded in 1993 as Friends of Florida State Parks and renamed in 2018, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation whose mission is to support and help sustain the Florida Park Service, its 175 award-winning parks and trails, local Friends groups and more than 20,000 park volunteers.  

    It does this through programs that preserve and protect state parks, educate visitors about the value of state parks, encourage community engagement and active use of state parks, and advocacy.

    The volunteer Board of Directors represents private and public sectors as well as local and statewide interests.

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