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.