A project to build a fishing pier and boardwalk at Oscar Scherer State Park that has been in the works for almost 15 years, can now start thanks to a major grant from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation.

The grant was made through the Florida State Parks Foundation and allows the first phase of the pier to start, said Foundation President, Gil Ziffer.  

“This generous donation from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation means that the pier can now become a reality. It will be fully ADA-compliant and will provide both a fishing pier and a focus for the park’s environmental education programs,” he said.

Oscar Scherer State Park is just north of Venice on Florida’s west coast and the Lake Osprey Fishing Pier, apart from being an added attraction for park visitors, will also be used for school visits to teach children how to fish. But, along with that, the kids will be learning the value of the park’s habitats that enable a thriving, healthy environment for the fish, birds, and hundreds of other species to live. 

The Selby Foundation funding completes the amount needed for phase 1 of the project, which is the construction of one leg of the fishing pier out into the three-acre freshwater Lake Osprey and the central platform.  Phase 2 will be the construction of the roof over the central platform, and phase 3 will be the construction of the second leg of the pier.

The nonprofit, volunteer group, Friends of Oscar Scherer State Park, have been fundraising for the project for 15 years and are contributing $200,000 towards the cost.

Ron Newton, president of the park’s citizen support group, Friends of Oscar Scherer says, “The Lake Osprey Boardwalk and Fishing Pier will be completely wheelchair accessible with sections of the railing lowered to give seated visitors an unobstructed view of beautiful Lake Osprey.  And, also, a place to cast a line more easily. Our group has been working steadily for many years to raise the money to accomplish this much needed project.  We are incredibly grateful to the Selby Foundation for finally getting us over the hump.”

“The Selby Foundation is pleased to be a partner on this very important project that will increase accessibility for so many to enjoy the beauty and joy of nature.  The Friends of Oscar Scherer State Park and the Florida State Parks Foundation are to be commended for their hard work and determination in ensuring the success of this project.  Their focus has been unwavering”, said Carol Butera, President/CEO of The William G. and Marie Selby Foundation.

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.

About the Author: Foundation Staff