Blog

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 
  • 02/25/2021 11:49 AM | Anonymous


    ST. AUGUSTINE, FL - In celebration of Black History Month, Fort Mose Historic State Park has partnered with Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) and The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida to launch a self-guided educational tour experience along the Flight to Freedom Trail, bringing to life the rich history of the park year-round.

    The initiative was announced today at Fort Mose by Gil Ziffer, President of the Florida State Parks Foundation. “It is very fitting that this new self-guided tour in this historic park is being announced during Black History Month,” he said. “The Foundation is proud to be a part of this important initiative – bringing to life the story of Fort Mose.”

    “We thank Florida Power and Light and The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida who are proud supporters of the Flight to Freedom trail initiative and the significance it will have for generations to come,” he added.

    “We are delighted to invest in making the Flight to Freedom Trail even more compelling with these enhancements,” noted Nina Waters, president, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida. “By building on the work already done by Fort Mose’s leadership and volunteers, we can further educate our community about the rich history of African American individuals in St. Augustine.”

    “We’re passionate about making a positive impact in the communities we serve and supporting the initiatives our diverse communities care about the most – and this historic park is a shining example of that,” said Jim Bush, area external affairs manager at FPL. “Innovation is at the cornerstone of our company, so it was a perfect fit to provide QR technology to help bring the park’s rich history to life in a self-guided experience.”

    Fort Mose Historic State Park is the site of the first free black community in what is now the United States and can date its roots back to 1687. It is a National Historic Landmark and a UNESCO Slave Route Project and is on the National Register for Historic Places and the Florida African American History Trail.

    “Fort Mose is an incredible example of the history that lives in Florida’s state parks,” said Shawn Hamilton, DEP Deputy Secretary for Land and Recreation. “More than 300 years ago, Fort Mose served as a beacon of hope for enslaved people in what would become the United States. We’re excited and honored to have a new tour experience that will help visitors make meaningful connections with the people who traveled to, settled and lived there.”

    Fort Mose hosts an annual three-day Flight to Freedom event for over 2,000 students and the public, where reenactors set up stations along the trail. They tell the story of what it was like for the escaped slaves to make the treacherous journey from the Carolinasto this free settlement. New, interactive educational signage along the ¾-mile trail will allow this reenactment and history to be experienced all year long. The signs will include QR codes for visitors to scan, launching videos of the reenactors telling their story.

    'We launched the Flight to Freedom reenactment in 2009,” said Charles Ellis, President of Fort Mose Historical Society. “Since that time, thousands of park visitors of all ages have stepped onto the Trail, encountering freedom seekers, slave catchers, a Yamasee chief, and helpful friars and guides. Now, thanks to this generous donation, we will be able to offer this unique 'living history' experience to park visitors at all times.”

    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.

  • 02/11/2021 8:37 AM | Anonymous

    The Florida State Parks Foundation has announced a $200,000 grant for the Serenity Garden at Wekiwa Springs State Park. The garden, ‘a park within a park’, will be the only one of its kind in the United States. 

    “We are delighted to support this innovative project that will expand access and enhance the park experience for visitors with diverse abilities and special needs,” said Foundation President Gil Ziffer.

    The grant has been awarded to the Wekiva Wilderness Trust, the nonprofit, volunteer group that supports the work of Wekiwa Springs State Park. The Trust has worked with a team of international experts for more than two years to finalize the design of the 1.5-acre site. Although additional funding is still needed, work is expected to start on the garden by early summer.

    The Serenity Garden will create accessible experiences and enrichment activities for vulnerable populations and groups such as fragile seniors, the visually impaired, people in wheelchairs, veterans with PTSD, people with autism, those with chronic conditions, and their families and caregivers. Visitors will be able to see, touch, smell and hear nature and interact with it in a safe environment. It is hoped that it will become the model for other parks and public spaces both in the U.S. and overseas.

    “The Serenity Garden is a unique project that aims to serve as a sanctuary for a largely underserved population throughout Central Florida,” said project leader Don Philpott. “Hopefully, it will be the first of many to be created around the country and overseas,” he added.

    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.

  • 01/27/2021 8:24 AM | Anonymous

    The Florida State Parks Foundation has won bipartisan support in its bid to get a specialty license plate to support Florida’s award-winning state parks.

    “We are delighted that bills have been filed in both the Senate and the House which if passed, will authorize a specialty license plate to provide significant and ongoing funding to enable us to protect and preserve Florida’s state parks,” said Foundation President Gil Ziffer.

    Senate Bill 676 was filed by Republican Senator Dennis Baxley (SD 12), and House Bill 249 was filed by Democratic Representative Allison Tant (HD 9).

    “Florida’s state parks are a treasure that need to be protected for future generations, but this will require significant and ongoing funding. I am delighted to support a specialty Florida State Parks license plate which would provide some of this much needed funding,” said Senator Baxley.

    “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 a specialty license plate will help us achieve this,” said Representative Tant.

    About $1 billion dollars is needed to reinvest in aging infrastructure and provide needed facilities in parks yet to be developed. Part of the Foundation’s mission is to support the Florida Park Service and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection with this task. A specialty Florida Park Service license plate would provide much needed funding for this effort.

    The statistics are both daunting and impressive. 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.

    Florida’s state parks also play a key role in Florida’s tourism and economy. State parks attracted 28 million visitors in 2019 and generated almost $3 billion in local and statewide economic impact, generating over $205 million in state sales tax and creating over 48,622 jobs. 

    “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 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,” said Ziffer.

    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. 

  • 01/25/2021 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    Representatives of Bass Pro Shops, the Florida State Parks Foundation and the Florida Park Service participated in a tree planting event at Gold Head Branch State Park last Thursday as part of their statewide Plant a Pine project.

    The Foundation announced on Earth Day in April 2020, a goal of planting 100,000 longleaf pine trees by Earth Day 2021 (April 22). In October, Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund generously contributed $50,000 to the project, enabling the planting of over 50,000 seedlings across ten different State Parks, said Foundation President Elect Don Philpott.

    “We are delighted that Gold Head Branch State Park is one of the first to benefit from this project,” he said.

    Gold Head Branch State Park, in Keystone Heights, is one of Florida's oldest state parks, developed in the 1930s. It now covers 2,000 acres of rolling sandhills on the North Central Ridge of Florida with one of the few remaining examples of an old growth stand of longleaf pines. A steep head ravine with seepage springs forms Gold Head Branch and bisects the park while marshes, lakes and scrub provide habitat for a wide variety of wildlife.

    The pine seedlings are being planted in coordination with the Florida Park Service in park areas identified for restoration efforts. The longleaf pine is native to the Southeast and once flourished over a range of 90 million acres. Sadly, it is now endangered, covering less than 3 percent of its original range. It has long been prized for commercial use in building houses, ships, and railroads and its resin used for making turpentine. 

    Mature longleaf ecosystems support more than 30 endangered and threatened species, including red cockaded woodpeckers, gopher tortoises, and indigo snakes. Regular burning to restore natural rhythms enables longleaf pine to become rich, stable ecosystems. Longleaf pines are fire-adapted and dependent on burning, which stabilizes and enriches the soil.

    “Our Plant a Pine initiative has really resonated with the public,” he said. “People can even dedicate a tree to a loved one. It is a gift that will continue to grow and flourish for many years to come,” said Philpott. 

    “The Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund is proud to partner with the Florida State Parks Foundation in restoring the endangered longleaf pine across our beautiful state. We all have a role to play in conserving Florida’s treasured natural resources and, by working together, look forward to seeing these pines grow and enrich our state parks. We send a special thanks to our customers who, by rounding up purchases in our stores, enabled the Outdoor Fund grant to support this project.” said Bass Pro’s Steve Washburn.

    Groups interested in supporting hands-on tree planting projects can contact the Foundation through its website www.floridastateparksfoundation.org/trees.

    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.

  • 01/06/2021 9:02 AM | Anonymous

    A project to build a fishing pier and boardwalk at Oscar Scherer State Park that has been in the works for almost 15 years, can now start thanks to a major grant from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation.

    The grant was made through the Florida State Parks Foundation and allows the first phase of the pier to start, said Foundation President, Gil Ziffer.  

    “This generous donation from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation means that the pier can now become a reality. It will be fully ADA-compliant and will provide both a fishing pier and a focus for the park's environmental education programs,” he said.

    Oscar Scherer State Park is just north of Venice on Florida’s west coast and the Lake Osprey Fishing Pier, apart from being an added attraction for park visitors, will also be used for school visits to teach children how to fish. But, along with that, the kids will be learning the value of the park's habitats that enable a thriving, healthy environment for the fish, birds, and hundreds of other species to live. 

    The Selby Foundation funding completes the amount needed for phase 1 of the project, which is the construction of one leg of the fishing pier out into the three-acre freshwater Lake Osprey and the central platform.  Phase 2 will be the construction of the roof over the central platform, and phase 3 will be the construction of the second leg of the pier.

    The nonprofit, volunteer group, Friends of Oscar Scherer State Park, have been fundraising for the project for 15 years and are contributing $200,000 towards the cost.

    Ron Newton, president of the park's citizen support group, Friends of Oscar Scherer says, "The Lake Osprey Boardwalk and Fishing Pier will be completely wheelchair accessible with sections of the railing lowered to give seated visitors an unobstructed view of beautiful Lake Osprey.  And, also, a place to cast a line more easily. Our group has been working steadily for many years to raise the money to accomplish this much needed project.  We are incredibly grateful to the Selby Foundation for finally getting us over the hump."

    “The Selby Foundation is pleased to be a partner on this very important project that will increase accessibility for so many to enjoy the beauty and joy of nature.  The Friends of Oscar Scherer State Park and the Florida State Parks Foundation are to be commended for their hard work and determination in ensuring the success of this project.  Their focus has been unwavering”, said Carol Butera, President/CEO of The William G. and Marie Selby Foundation.

    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 represent private and public sectors as well as local and statewide interests.

  • 12/29/2020 8:01 AM | Anonymous

    Celebrate New Year’s Day by starting 2021 on the right foot with a First Day Hike. You can visit your closest park and enjoy the outdoors with your household or choose from one of the 18 events occurring around the state. 

    “First Day Hikes is a national event started by the National Association of State Park Directors years ago. In recent years it has attracted tens of thousands of people who celebrate the New Year with a relaxing walk outdoors,” said Florida State Parks Foundation President, Gil Ziffer.

    “Rangers and volunteers normally guide the First Day hikes, which provide a great way to learn about the nature and history of our fabulous award-winning state parks,” he said. “However, this year, we are encouraging people to go on self-guided hikes. Eighteen parks will have rangers walking the trails to answer questions.” 

    All hikes aim to create a fun experience for the whole family. If you have guests from out of town, First Day Hikes are a great way to show off your area and have a memorable experience with the chance to spot birds, deer, and other Florida wildlife, he added. 

    “Begin 2021 with a focus on your physical and mental well-being with a First Day Hike in one of our great state parks. Recent research confirms the benefits of just 30 minutes a week spent in nature, and what better way to start a new healthy habit for 2021,” he said.

    “Despite the challenges faced during 2020, volunteers and park staff kept our parks going, providing a welcome and safe place for people wanting to exercise and explore the outdoors during these restricted social times. Hopefully, as we enter 2021 we can all look forward to a healthier and happier New Year,” he said.

    You can learn more at https://www.floridastateparks.org/events.

    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.

  • 12/22/2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    The Florida State Parks Foundation today thanked park staff, volunteers and supporters for all they had done in 2020 and predicted brighter times ahead. 

    “I am sure that we all will be glad to see the end of 2020. It certainly has been a tumultuous year and we share the pain of all those who have suffered during these difficult times,” Foundation CEO Julia Gill Woodward said in an end of year message.

    “However, as we approach the new year, we should reflect on the good things that have happened and look forward with hope to whatever may be round the corner in 2021,” she said.

    “Despite the challenges faced during 2020, volunteers and park staff kept operations going, providing a welcome and safe place for people wanting to exercise and explore the outdoors during these restricted social times.”

    “The Foundation is truly fortunate to have the support of the many tens of thousands of folks – both volunteers and supporters, who recognize the importance of our fabulous state parks and the need to protect and preserve them for generations to come. The impact they have cannot be overstated. Also, during the year $500,000 was raised to benefit Florida State Parks,” said Woodward.

    Thanks to their generosity, the Foundation scored significant accomplishments in its mission of protecting, preserving, sustaining, and growing our Florida State Parks. 

    These successes included supporting the Sea Turtle Ambassador Program at John D. MacArthur Beach State Park, providing accessible electric trams to Hugh Taylor Birch, MacArthur Beach and Hillsborough River State Parks, and supporting Hurricane Michael restoration efforts at St. Andrews State Park.

    In addition, trail accessibility was improved at Dr. Von Eula Mizell-Johnson State Park, funding was provided for GPS tracking devices to collect vital data on nesting sea turtles on state park beaches and work began on the construction of Silver Springs State Park’s first ADA accessible glass bottom boat.

    “In the next few weeks, thanks to your support, we will start planting more than 83,000 longleaf pine seedlings, mostly in parks that suffered devastating tree loss caused by recent hurricanes,” she said.

    “We have funded the training of nearly 100 park rangers this year and advocated for the most robust parks budget in recent history.” 

    “Through the work of many much has been accomplished.  Together we will continue to ensure that Florida’s state parks remain the best in the nation and a treasure that we can all be proud of,” she added.

    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 represent private and public sectors as well as local and statewide interests.

  • 12/08/2020 10:40 AM | Anonymous

    The Florida State Parks Foundation announced today that the nonprofit Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida (FWFF) has donated $20,000 towards the cost of Silver Springs State Park’s first wheelchair accessible glass bottom boat. 

    Funds for the grant came from the FWFF’s Protect Florida Springs license plate, which contains the image of a scuba diver. Twenty-five dollars from each purchased plate supports conservation of Florida’s unique springs. 

    “We are committed to making nature accessible to all,” said FWFF President and CEO Andrew Walker. “Florida’s springs are unique in the country and around the world. It is a travesty that anyone would be limited from experiencing their natural wonder. With this grant, we’re proud to help right that wrong.”

    The Florida State Parks Foundation commissioned the design of the boat which is now under construction and scheduled for launch early in the new year. It will also be equipped with an induction-loop system that assists passengers using hearing aids listen to the captain's narration. 

    In keeping with the tradition of naming the glass bottom boats at Silver Springs after Seminole tribal chiefs, the new boat will be named Chief Potackee after the only female chief of the tribe.

    “Thanks to this very generous grant from FWFF, our new wheelchair accessible vessel will allow everyone to enjoy the famous glass bottom boat tours at Silver Springs,” said Julia Gill Woodward, Florida State Parks Foundation CEO.

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

    The Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and other public and private partners to conserve Florida’s native animals and plants and the lands and waters they need to survive.

    Since its founding in 1994, the Foundation has raised and donated $45 million to conservation and outdoor recreation and education. More information can be found at wildlifeflorida.org.

    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 represent private and public sectors as well as local and statewide interests.

  • 11/18/2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    The Florida State Parks Foundation congratulates Florida’s Greenways and Trails System for hosting 10 million visitors during the last financial year, which concluded at the end of June 2020.

    “During this period of restrictions and social distancing due to COVID-19, it is very encouraging to see that people are taking advantage of all Florida’s state parks, greenways and trails and turning out in record numbers,” said Gil Ziffer, Foundation President.

    The most popular trail is the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, a remarkable environmental success story that covers more than 71,000 acres and is enjoyed annually by more than three million visitors.

    The 110-mile, multi-use linear park runs from the Gulf of Mexico to the St. Johns River and in places is more than a mile wide. The trail welcomes exercise enthusiasts and casual visitors alike, with plenty of outdoor recreation activities for everyone from hikers, paddlers and mountain bikers to young families with strollers and friends enjoying a refreshing walk through nature.

    According to the American Heart Association, outdoor activities such as walking, hiking and paddling, can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes while also supporting stress relief and mental health.

    “During this period of restrictions and social distancing due to COVID-19, it is very encouraging to see that people are taking advantage of all Florida’s state parks, greenways and trails and turning out in record numbers,” said Gil Ziffer, Foundation President.

    The most popular trail is the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, a remarkable environmental success story that covers more than 71,000 acres and is enjoyed annually by more than three million visitors.

    The 110-mile, multi-use linear park runs from the Gulf of Mexico to the St. Johns River and in places is more than a mile wide. The trail welcomes exercise enthusiasts and casual visitors alike, with plenty of outdoor recreation activities for everyone from hikers, paddlers and mountain bikers to young families with strollers and friends enjoying a refreshing walk through nature.

    According to the American Heart Association, outdoor activities such as walking, hiking and paddling, can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes while also supporting stress relief and mental health.

    The Office of Greenways and Trails, within the Division of Recreation and Parks, works with stakeholders throughout the state to plan and implement the state’s greenways and trails system, considered one of the best in the nation. There are more than 7,500 miles of land-based trails in Florida and an additional 4,000 miles of designated paddling trails to enjoy. 

    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.

  • 11/13/2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    The Florida State Parks Foundation will restore the Barrier Island Trail in Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park in Dania Beach, thanks to a $5,000 grant from REI Co-op. 

    The REI funds will allow the purchase of 60 yards of crushed coquina shell which will be used to fill in an area of the trail that becomes waterlogged after heavy rain, said Foundation CEO Julia Gill Woodward.

    “Filling this area with natural, crushed coquina shell will make the trail safer, more inviting, and most importantly, will allow visitors access to the entire front loop of the trail”, she said.

    “We expect that stabilizing the wet, muddy section of trail will increase its safety and usability by many different groups of people. For example, people using some types of mobility scooters, trail wheelchairs and beach wheelchairs which can handle some rough ground but not water or mud,” said Woodward.

    REI is opening its latest store location this weekend in Boca Raton and has named Mizell-Johnson State Park as one of the store’s community partners. As a member-owned co-op, REI invest deeply in stewardship of the outdoor places its members know and love. REI actively works with nonprofits across the country to steward and maintain local trails and public lands and connect people to the outdoors. 

    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.

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software