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.