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  • 03/25/2014 10:34 AM | Florida State Parks Foundation (Administrator)

    Beach-nesting shorebirds need peace and quiet to survive
    During spring and summer on Florida beaches, shorebirds build nests out of sand and shells and hatch chicks that can barely be seen. So well-camouflaged are the nests, eggs and chicks of shorebirds like the snowy plover that they can easily be stepped on or missed unless people know to watch out for them.
    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is reminding beachgoers to be on the lookout and avoid disturbing bird nurseries on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida. Among the state’s beach-nesting shorebirds facing conservation challenges are the snowy plover, least tern, black skimmer, American oystercatcher and Wilson’s plover.
    People at the beach, including those paddling canoes, kayaks and boards along the shore, can help beach-nesting shorebirds by following basic guidelines:
    Keep your distance. If birds become agitated or leave their nests, you are too close. A general rule is to stay at least 300 feet from a nest. Birds calling out loudly and dive-bombing are giving signals you need to back off.
    Never intentionally force birds to fly or run. They use up energy they need for nesting, and eggs and chicks may be left vulnerable to the sun’s heat and to predators.
    Respect posted areas. Avoid posted nesting sites and use designated walkways when possible.
    It’s best not to take pets to the beach, but if you do, keep them on a leash.
    Keep the beach clean and do not feed wildlife. Food scraps attract predators such as raccoons and crows. Litter on beaches can entangle birds and other wildlife.
    Spread the word. If you see people disturbing nesting birds, gently let them know how their actions may hurt the birds’ survival. If they continue to disturb nesting birds, report their activities to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922), #FWC or *FWC on your cell phone or by texting You also can report nests that are not posted to Wildlife Alert.
    Wildlife photographers also should follow the rules that protect beach-nesting shorebirds:

    Remain behind the posted area, with no part of you or your camera equipment extending beyond the string or signs.
    Don’t exceed 10 minutes. Too much time photographing near the nest may stress the birds.
    Don’t “push” birds around the beach. Stay far enough away so the birds do not change their behavior in response to your presence. They need to feed and rest without disturbance.
    For more information, go to and download the “Share the Beach with Beach-Nesting Birds” brochure. Or go to the Florida Shorebird Alliance at

  • 03/24/2014 9:16 AM | Florida State Parks Foundation (Administrator)
    If you haven’t visited Colt Creek State Park north of Lakeland, Saturday 29 may be a good time to start.
    A fledgling group called Friends of Colt Creek State Park has organized a series of events next weekend to highlight the park’s beauty and recreation potential.
    The events will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday
  • 03/19/2014 10:15 AM | Florida State Parks Foundation (Administrator)
    The Fort Mose Historical Society received an Outstanding Special Event of the Year award on March 8 for its 5th annual re-enactment of the Battle of Bloody Mose.

    A citizen support organization for Fort Mose Historic State Park, the historical society received the award from its umbrella organization, Friends of Florida State Parks. The award was announced at the annual Volunteer Appreciation Day hosted by the Florida Park Service to recognize park volunteers.

    “Wow! I can’t believe it,” said Charles Ellis, president of the Fort Mose Historical Society. “What an honor to have among all the state parks and their respective events.”

    There are 171 state parks and trails with numerous events throughout the year competing for the award.

    Ellis said the effort was not made in a single bubble, but was, in fact, a huge endeavor from several organizations, community partners and volunteers. He recognized two major groups that helped make the Battle of Bloody Mose event possible undefined Florida Living History Inc. for making it humanly possible to organize and the Florida Humanities Council for making it financially possible.

    The Battle of Bloody Mose re-enactment is held each year in June and commemorates a 1740 battle in which Spanish soldiers, black militia and native Yamassee auxiliaries fought off advances by English and Scottish troops from Georgia.

    The Battle of Bloody Mose began in 2010 by Florida Living History with support from the Saint Johns County Tourist Development Council. In 2014, the event will be extended to two days in order to accommodate two full battle re-enactments on June 21 and 22.

  • 03/11/2014 1:13 PM | Florida State Parks Foundation (Administrator)

    Senator Jeremy Ring of the Government Oversight and Accountability Committee in the Florida Senate is sponsoring a bill impacting all Friends groups in the Florida state park system. A portion of the bill addresses reporting and accountability. If passed, this will tighten reporting timelines for all Friends and Alliances groups. If the fiscal year does not mirror the state's (July-June), we will be required to change it. For revenues of $100,000 and over in any given year, an external audit will be required. There is also a change to the statute authorizing the formation of support groups. This statute will be repealed in 5 years if not renewed by the legislature. If it is renewed, it will still be subject to repeal every 5 years unless renewed each time. There is a corresponding bill in the House at this time. 

    We all can and should let our legislators know how this bill will affect our state parks and our Friends groups. You can read the bill here:

  • 02/20/2014 5:10 PM | Florida State Parks Foundation (Administrator)

    SEBRING  Local resident Darrel Smith has picked up top honors from the Florida State Park Service, being awarded Volunteer of the Year for 2014. Smith was cited for his work as Museum curator at Highlands Hammock State Park.
  • 01/25/2014 9:36 AM | Florida State Parks Foundation (Administrator)

    Editorial: Park grants would pay dividends

    Florida should take greater advantage of the volunteers and private partners supporting its park system. It can start by restoring a modest grant program to improve park facilities.

    The Legislature has not given any money to the state program known as the Partnership in Parks for the past several years. The neglect is troublesome considering the park system's substantial return on investment. State numbers indicate the park system had a direct economic impact of nearly $1.2 billion on local economies and produced nearly $78 million in sales tax money in 2012-13.

    The nonprofit Friends of Florida State Parks Inc. proposes to take responsibility for the state grants and is asking lawmakers for $1.5 million in the 2014-15 state budget to restart the program. The benefits of the program can be seen at Honeymoon Island State Park. About $560,000 in state and private dollars transformed a former bathhouse into the Rotary Centennial Nature Center in 2007.

    Gov. Rick Scott lauded the intent of the program but vetoed $750,000 for it in 2013 amid concerns about administrative costs. In response, the plan this year is to cap overhead expenses at 5 percent. Encouraging private investment in state parks for boardwalks, trails, nature centers and to make the facilities more readily accessible for the disabled is a worthwhile goal that shouldn't be overlooked again this year.

    Editorial: Park grants would pay dividends 01/24/14 [Last modified: Friday, January 24, 2014 1:32pm]

  • 01/17/2014 7:12 AM | Florida State Parks Foundation (Administrator)

    ~Winning photo taken at Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida Keys~

    Florida State Parks and Friends of Florida State Parks 2013 Photo Contest Winners: (top) Back to the Island by Gary Oliver

    (left) 2nd Place - Caspian Terns by Priscilla McDaniel

    (right) A Guest While Eating My Lunch by Priscilla McDaniel

    “Each year, we receive hundreds of amazing photos taken at Florida’s state parks and state trails. Each one inspires us to visit our state parks to enjoy our incredible natural and cultural resources,” said Florida Park Service Director Donald Forgione. “Congratulations to the winners and all who entered the contest. I look forward to seeing all the beautiful photos we receive in 2014.”

    Annual photo contest winners are selected from the 12 monthly photo contest winners throughout 2013 selected by visitors to The photographs were evaluated by professional photographers John Moran, Lyn Berreitter and Kevin Kolczynski to determine the top three winners. A Florida State Parks Family Annual Entrance Pass will be presented to Gary Oliver for shooting the winning photo. Priscilla McDaniel will receive a Florida State Parks Individual Annual Entrance Pass.

    The Florida State Parks and State Trails Photo Contest allows visitors to share their experiences at state parks and on state trails. Register and submit your favorite photos for a chance to win entrance passes to visit Florida’s state parks. Visit the Photo Contest website for rules and details.

  • 10/10/2013 11:36 AM | Florida State Parks Foundation (Administrator)
    There is cause for celebration for all Florida State Park staff,
    visitors and Friends groups! The Gold Medal Award for
    Excellence in the management of state park systems was
    recently celebrated at Lake Louisa State Park where park
    officials gathered in recognition of this unprecedented honor.
    Florida is the only park system in the USA to claim title to three
    Gold Medal awards.
    “The fact that the Florida Park Service has won this prestigious
    national award three times, while no other state has ever
    won twice shows the dedication of our employees and volunteers to manage the resources that provide vast opportunities for Floridians and visitors to enjoy our natural resources,” said Florida DEP Secretary Herschel
    Vinyard. Secretary Vinyard, Representative Bryan Nelson and Florida Parks Director Donald Forgione were on hand for the gathering where a large group was assembled for the recognition event.
    Since 1935, Florida’s Park Service has been working to provide recreational activities for the community, while preserving, protecting, interpreting and restoring natural resources in the state.
  • 03/31/2013 3:16 AM | Florida State Parks Foundation (Administrator)
                                                                                                                                Jamie began volunteering as a
    Park Host, assisting visitors and
    answering their questions. She also
    helps with the interpretive carts
    in the park. She is often asked to
    be a mentor to other high school
    volunteers. She has participated
    in a bird survey at Egmont Key
    State Park and worked for Fish
    and Wildlife assisting in building
    boardwalks and performing surveys
    at Three Sisters Park. At 16 years
    old, Jamie is a fine ambassador for
    her park.
  • 01/15/2013 3:22 PM | Florida State Parks Foundation (Administrator)


    The first place photo in the 2012 FPS and FFSP Photo Contest is wonderfully appropriate for the 50th anniversary of the publishing of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. Ospreys were sorely impacted by the proliferation of DDT use in the 1950s and 1960s. Possibly because of the banning on DDT in many countries in the early 1970s, the osprey as well as other affected birds of prey have made significant recoveries. Our continued thanks to Rachel Carson for making this a prominent issue.


    Congratulations to the winners! First place winner Jose Ramirez’s photo, Fishing Osprey, was taken at Honeymoon Island State Park.

    Second place went to Looking Up by Carmen Welbon at Blue Spring State Park.

    Third place is Baby Pelican at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park by John Brown.

    Annual photo contest winners are selected from the 12 monthly photo contest winners throughout 2012 selected by visitors to The photographs were evaluated by professional photographers John Moran, Kevin Kolczynski and Lynn Berreitter to determine the top three winners.


    Thanks to everyone who participated throughout the year and a special thanks to our judges.


    The Florida State Parks and State Trails Photo Contest in conjunction with Friends of Florida State Parks allows visitors to share their experiences at state parks and on state trails. Register and submit your favorite photos for a chance to win a Florida State Parks Passport. Visit the Photo Contest website for rules and details.

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