Don Philpott, Executive Director
Florida’s magnificent, award-winning state parks have won the national Gold Medal for Excellence a record three times, something that no other state has been able to achieve.
Our 175 state parks and trails attract more than 30 million visitors a year and pump over $3 billion into the Florida economy. Yet this all comes at a cost.
As visitation increases so does the wear and tear and the need to maintain an infrastructure that in many cases is already in urgent need of replacement. A recent survey of parks found that the cost of repairing and restoring this aging infrastructure statewide is about $1 billion. In addition, there are many capital projects needed to enhance the visitor experience and ensure the parks remain vibrant for future generations.
While the parks are increasingly self-supporting, currently over 80% self-sufficient, there is no money available for this enormous backlog of work and the problem is further exacerbated when hurricanes like Irma and Michael strike causing tens of millions of dollars’ worth of damage that was not budgeted for.
So as 2018 draws to a close, there are many ways that you can show your support of Florida’s parks and all that they stand for. You can, of course, volunteer and there are scores of volunteer opportunities especially if you have special skills and talents. You get to work in some of Florida’s most beautiful environments alongside like-minded volunteers who love the parks as much as you do.
You can also choose to make a gift either to your local park or to the Florida State Parks Foundation, the statewide group, that supports the work of all the local Friends groups and an army of 11,000 volunteers.
Giving can be in the form of an end of year donation or you can check with your employer to see if they have a monthly giving plan where your donation is taken out of your pay check and sent to the nonprofit of your choice.
However one chooses to give, December is the most popular time to make a donation. In 2017, Americans gave $410 billion to charities – up 5% over 2016 – and nearly one third of that was given in the month of December. That means that in 31 days, Americans gave $125 billion to nonprofit organizations.
If you love our state parks, please consider making an end of year donation to help support them. No amount is too small, and every cent goes towards projects in the park. Thank you.