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.