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.

About the Author: Foundation Staff