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  • 10/06/2020 3:24 PM | Anonymous

    TALLAHASSEE, FL - The Florida State Parks Foundation was today presented with a $50,000 check from the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund for its Plant a Pine initiative.

    Foundation President Gil Ziffer received the check at Bass Pro Shops in Tallahassee from General Manager Anthony Price. Also present was Shawn Hamilton, Interim Deputy Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Eric Draper, Director of the Florida Park Service. 

    Guided by the visionary leadership of Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris, the Outdoor Fund invites Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s 200 million annual customers to support local and national conservation efforts by rounding up their purchases at the register. The Outdoor Fund rallies passionate customers alongside dedicated team members, industry partners and leading conservation organizations like Florida State Parks Foundation.

    The Foundation announced in April a goal of planting 100,000 longleaf pine trees by Earth Day 2021 (April 22). “Now thanks to this wonderful grant from the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund we will sail past that,” Foundation President Gil Ziffer said.

    “Our Plant a Pine initiative has really resonated with the public,” he said. “And now, thanks to this $50,000 grant, we will be able to do so much more. 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,” he said. 

    The campaign launched on Earth Day 2020 and has already raised enough to be able to plant more than 80,000 longleaf pine seedlings in state parks across Florida. The seedlings are being planted in coordination with the Florida Park Service in park areas identified for restoration efforts.

    “Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund’s generous contribution will allow us to plant over 50,000 seedlings across ten different State Parks,” said Shawn Hamilton, Interim Deputy Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. “This opportunity would not be possible without the Florida State Parks Foundation’s Plant a Pine initiative, which will help restore longleaf pines populations in Florida State Parks.”  

    “Florida State Parks provides important recreational access for the public to enjoy the outdoors,” said Anthony Price, General Manager at Bass Pro Shops in Tallahassee. “In addition, state parks also help showcase and conserve an amazing diversity of habitats and natural resources. The Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund is proud to partner with the Florida State Parks Foundation on this tree-planting initiative. Working together, we all can help ensure a bright future for Florida’s treasured natural resources,” he said.

    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.

    “The trees are being planted in coordination with the Florida Park Service in park areas identified for restoration efforts,” said Ziffer. 

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

  • 09/30/2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    The Florida State Parks Foundation today congratulated the army of state park volunteers who last year contributed more than 1 million hours of time, talent, and effort. 

    “Florida State Parks are rightly recognized as the best in the nation and this would not be possible without the enormous role played by thousands of volunteers”’ said Foundation President Gil Ziffer.

    Last year, volunteers, including community service and AmeriCorps members, contributed 1,161,640 hours, the equivalent of an additional 559 full time employees and with a value of more than $31.5 million, he said. 

    There are more than 10,400 volunteers who safely work alongside park staff enhancing visitor experiences and helping with park maintenance and resource management. Park volunteers often bring special skills and knowledge and feel rewarded by helping others. 

    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 10,000 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.

  • 09/22/2020 8:00 AM | Julia Gill Woodward (Administrator)

    The Florida State Parks Foundation has received a $50,000 grant from Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund for its Plant a Pine initiative. 

    “This very generous gift is even more special because it will be used as a matching grant which effectively doubles its worth,” Foundation President Gil Ziffer said.

    The Foundation announced in April a goal of planting 100,000 longleaf pine trees by Earth Day 2021 (April 22).  “Now thanks to this wonderful matching grant from Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund we will sail past that,” he said.

    “Our Plant a Pine initiative has really resonated with the public,” he said. “And now, thanks to this $50,000 matching grant, we will be able to do so much more.”

    “For every $1 donated, the Foundationwill plant one longleaf pine seedling in a Florida State Park, and Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund will match that donation up to $50,000. 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,” he said.

    The campaign launched on Earth Day 2020 and has already raised enough to be able to plant more than 25,000 longleaf pine seedlings in state parks across Florida. The majority of the first round of seedlings are being planted at Torreya State Park, which was devastated by Hurricane Michael in 2018. 

    “Florida State Parks provides important recreational access for the public to enjoy the outdoors,” said Bob Ziehmer, President of the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund. “In addition, state parks also help showcase and conserve an amazing diversity of habitats and natural resources.  The Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund is proud to partner with the Florida State Parks Foundation on this tree-planting initiative.  Working together, we all can help ensure a bright future for Florida’s treasured natural resources.”

    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.

    “The trees are being planted in coordination with the Florida Park Service in park areas identified for restoration efforts,” said Ziffer.

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

  • 08/26/2020 12:44 PM | Julia Gill Woodward (Administrator)

    The Florida State Parks Foundation has received a $1 million bequest from a former Indialantic resident who was both a passionate birder and long-term Florida State Park volunteer.

    Bonnie Lizer who died last year generously left one quarter of her estate to the Foundation, said Foundation President Gil Ziffer. “In order to ensure that Bonnie’s name and generosity are remembered, a special birding program – the Bonnie Lizer Endowment - has been established in her memory,” he said.

    The first project as part of that program, is the installation of a series of interpretive panels at Sebastian Inlet State Park to assist visitors in identifying common migratory and resident bird species.  Visitors will learn about bird migratory patterns, feeding and nesting requirements, habitat and life cycle.  

    Visitors will also be informed about ways they can minimize impacts to birds and their habitat and the panels will feature tactile and interactive elements for visitors of all ages.  Visitors will also learn about the park’s estuary ecosystem and its importance to a variety of bird species.  

    The interpretive panels will include QR codes that will link visitors to additional information that can be viewed while in the park or once the visitor returns home.  The panels are being installed in an area already frequented by visitors along a walking path next to the Sebastian Inlet.  This path links both visitors and campers to the Sebastian Fishing Museum and beach access point on the south side of the park.  Additional signs will be installed on the north side of the park near the beach access and north jetty.  

    “As Bonnie’s two favorite state parks were Sebastian Inlet and the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park and her favorite pastime was birding, this project is very appropriate and, hopefully, will inspire many more people to take a greater interest in our feathered friends,” said Ziffer.

    Bonnie and her late husband Robert moved to Florida from Hagerstown, Maryland, in 1989. Robert volunteered at Sebastian Inlet and Bonnie was a volunteer at the park’s McLarty Treasure Museum. They were both lifelong birders and traveled the nation in their RV pursuing their pastime.

    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.

  • 07/07/2020 3:18 PM | Julia Gill Woodward (Administrator)

    The Florida State Parks Foundation announced today that thanks to a $90,000 grant from the Delores Barr Weaver Legacy Fund, construction will begin on the first wheelchair accessible glass-bottom boat at Silver Springs State Park. 

    “Thanks to the generosity of the Delores Barr Weaver Legacy Fund, the Foundation has signed a contract allowing construction to begin on Silver Spring’s first ever wheelchair accessible glass-bottom boat”, said Foundation CEO Julia Gill Woodward. It is hoped the boat will be in service before the end of this year.

     The Delores Barr Weaver Legacy Fund at The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida was created by Delores Barr Weaver in 2015 as the natural evolution of the Delores Barr Weaver Fund, which has awarded more than $86 million in grants since she created it in 2012.  

    Glass bottom boat tours have been operating at Silver Springs since at least the 1920s.  The current fleet, built in the 1960s and 1970s, is not wheelchair accessible and it wasn’t feasible to retrofit the vessels, so the Foundation commissioned a new boat design. 

    The Florida Park Service took over the Silver Springs attraction in 2013. It was very run down and the expense of repairing and revitalizing infrastructure combined with coping with hurricane damage done in 2018 (the roof of a just built educational pavilion was seriously damaged) prevents the Park Service from undertaking the expense of a new accessible boat on its own.

    “These boats are a beautiful unique design but people using mobility devices such as wheelchairs and scooters are excluded from the tours because the passenger must be able to step in and out of the boat.  The only solution is to build a brand-new boat which is a worthy, but costly undertaking,” said Julia Gill Woodward, Foundation CEO.

    “Thanks to the tremendous generosity of our funding partners, we can now begin construction,” added Paula Russo, the Foundation’s project’s coordinator.  “Soon no one will get left behind on the dock just because they can’t walk,” she added. 

    “We are delighted to be able to support this much needed and very worthwhile project,” said a spokesperson for the Delores Barr Weaver Legacy Fund.

    Contributions for the vessel have also come from the Felburn Foundation, the Friends of Silver Springs State Park, and the Cape Leisure Corporation. 

    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.

  • 05/18/2020 9:22 AM | Florida State Parks Foundation (Administrator)

    Florida’s 175 award-winning state parks and trails are now open again and volunteers are being urged to sign up to support them.

    “Volunteers add so much to state park operations. Volunteers add their time, skills, knowledge and enthusiasm and allow state parks to provide memorable experiences that visitors expect from America’s best state parks” said Florida State Parks Foundation’s CEO, Julia Gill Woodward.

    “Volunteers are welcome now as state parks welcome more visitors,” she said. 

    All volunteers go through an orientation process and because of COVID-19, they will also receive in-park training on transmission prevention protocols, and proper use of PPE equipment.

    Opportunities are diverse, from greeting visitors, conducting tours, and assisting with mowing or equipment maintenance, removing exotic plants, maintaining trails and working safely with staff and visitors, social distancing. There is a special need for volunteers with skills such as carpentry, plumbing and so on, she said.

    Many opportunities are available this summer and fall for RVers as Park Residents to aid park maintenance and campground hosts who aid campers, help with campground maintenance and are available for late-night emergencies.

    If you are interested, contact your local park and ask for their Volunteer Manager or apply to park opportunities listed online https://volunteers.floridastateparks.org/

    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.

  • 05/01/2020 11:31 AM | Florida State Parks Foundation (Administrator)

    The Florida State Parks Foundation welcomes the decision to begin reopening Florida’s award-winning state parks and allow Floridians to enjoy once again all the benefits that they have to offer.

    “At this time of incredible stress in the lives of so many people, beginning to reopen the parks allows our residents and visitors to spend quality time outdoors in a safe environment,” said Foundation CEO Julia Gill Woodward.

    “Numerous studies have shown that nature is actually good for our health and well-being and Florida’s state parks are the ideal place to commune with nature, reduce stress levels and unwind,” she said. “And by continuing to be ever vigilant in practicing social distancing, our parks can also provide a safe outlet for so many.”

    Being stuck indoors tends to reduce exercise levels while visiting a state park allows you to walk, jog, cycle, canoe and maybe swim – all activities that improve health and well-being.

    Another benefit is that you become more relaxed. According toresearchit only takes five minutes to experience the relaxing effects of nature.  Your concentration will also improve. Going outside can have some impactful results on your brainpower. Studies show that spending time outside can improve creative thinking. 

    People who spend more time outdoors have lower blood pressure, lower cortisol levels and a lower pulse than people who spend more time indoors or in urban areas. 

    “We obviously want our residents and visitors to feel safe in our state parks. Every effort is being made to provide an outdoors opportunity with safety and enjoyment achievable in the same visit and our Foundation stands ready to support the Florida Park Service, its staff and volunteers in any way we can,” said Gil Ziffer, President of the Florida State Parks Foundation. 


    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.

    ###

  • 04/13/2020 8:55 AM | Florida State Parks Foundation (Administrator)

    A major grant from the Sea Turtle Conservancy will help improve sea turtle data collection at many of Florida’s coastal state parks.

    The $12,798 grant to the Florida State Parks Foundation was funded by a grant awarded from the Sea Turtle Grants Program. The Sea Turtle Grants Program is funded from proceeds from the sale of the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate. Learn more at www.helpingseaturtles.org.

    The Florida Park Service (FPS) manages some of the highest density sea turtle nesting beaches in the state. The funds will be used to purchase specialized Trimble Global Positioning Systems (GPS) mobile data collection devices for parks utilizing the mobile data collection application developed by the Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Natural and Cultural Resources.

    “We recognize the importance of ensuring continued and high-quality collection of sea turtle nesting data on state parks. This mobile application will allow park rangers to collect data more efficiently and with a higher level of accuracy. It also allows for real-time data viewing and analysis,” said Foundation CEO, Julia Gill Woodward. “This will help ensure these natural resources are protected for the public of Florida into perpetuity.”

    The beach parks involved are: Avalon State Park and Fort Pierce Inlet State Park, Cayo Costa State Park, Don Pedro Island State Park, Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area and North Peninsula State Park North, MacArthur Beach State Park, Mizell-Johnson State Park, St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park, Sebastian Inlet State Park and Stump Pass Beach State Park. 

    These beaches are some of the highest density nesting beaches in Florida; half of which are index nesting beaches.

    The Florida Park Service currently protects a total of 108 miles of natural beaches where sea turtle nesting occurs regularly. With the help of volunteers and interns, park staff conduct surveys on nesting beaches each year and report all data back to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. This survey effort requires more than 25,000 hours to collect and report nest and inventory data for all 40 FPS beaches. 

    The goal for the 2020 season is to have all 40 state parks collecting turtle nesting data using the mobile app and have the ability to generate reports for FWCC using the online database. 

    “We are indebted to the Sea Turtle Conservancy for supporting us in this effort. Long-term, standardized and high-quality nest count and productivity data are some of the main metrics used to evaluate recovery actions detailed in the loggerhead and green turtle recovery plans,” said Woodward.

    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.

  • 04/11/2020 3:51 PM | Florida State Parks Foundation (Administrator)

    It is with great sadness that the Florida State Parks Foundation has learned of the death of Florida State Representative Kristin Jacobs, board member and passionate advocate for the environment. 

    “We were privileged to have had such a dynamic and energetic board member. She will be greatly missed but her legacy will continue”, said Foundation President Gil Ziffer.

    Kristin was the Executive Director of Resiliency Florida. A well-recognized and highly regarded voice in the field of resiliency, sustainable growth and climate change policy, Jacobs also served as the State Representative in Florida’s 96th House District. For 16 years, Kristin served as Broward County Commissioner and was twice chosen to serve as Mayor.  

    In 2011, Kristin was selected to serve as Chair of the White House National Ocean Council’s Governance Coordinating Committee, which advised President Obama on local government perspectives on ocean policy.  2013 found Jacobs chosen among a select few to join President Obama at Georgetown University as he unveiled the nation’s first Climate Action Plan, and that same year President Obama appointed her to the Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.  Kristin was twice invited to testify before Congress on the Clean Water Act and Climate Change issues. She joined the Florida State Parks Foundation as a board director in 2018.

    At some point, a celebration of her life will be held at her favorite park, Lake Kissimmee State Park. Her cremated remains will be scattered into the headwaters of the Everglades, the unique wetland she did so much to protect.

  • 03/20/2020 9:06 AM | Florida State Parks Foundation (Administrator)

    The Florida State Parks Foundation today applauded the Florida Legislature for its appropriation of $140 million for Florida’s award-winning state parks, the best in the nation.

    Foundation President Gil Ziffer, said, “Florida State Parks and Trails represent one of the state’s greatest success stories. They are a major contributor to the state’s tourism industry, support thousands of jobs and pour billions of dollars into the state’s economy. At the same time, they preserve many of the jewels of our natural environment and Florida’s significant historical and cultural sites. The appropriation demonstrates our legislator’s ongoing commitment to supporting our state parks.”

    The House and Senate finally approved $37 million for park improvements, $4 million for ADA improvements and spending authority of almost $100 million. The Senate originally offered $27 million but agreed to match the House position after an intense email campaign by the Foundation. Florida Park Service staff also benefit from a much needed 3% raise for all state employees. 

    “As the acknowledged premier state park system in the nation, it is vital that the Florida Park Service receives adequate funding to ensure that our state parks continue to be the best that they can be. When you compare the $41 million that has been appropriated with the $2.6 billion in economic impact the state parks generated last year from almost 30 million visitors, it is difficult to think of a better return on the investment anywhere,” said Foundation CEO Julia Gill Woodward.

    “We are grateful for the Florida State Parks Foundation’s successful efforts to educate legislators about the value and benefits of state parks,” said Florida State Park’s Director Eric Draper.

    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.

    ###

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