Friday, April 5, 2013

Celebrate Spring at a State Park

A view of the river from Suwannee River State Park.
Florida Department of Environmental ProtectionApril 5, 2013 Newsletter

Celebrate Spring at a State Park

Get outdoors and enjoy nature during the spring season.
Donald V. Forgione
Donald V. Forgione, Director, Florida Park Service
It’s springtime in Florida State Parks! Let’s take our cues from nature, get outdoors and enjoy this time of renewal and rejuvenation.
The Florida Park Service recently launched a PocketRanger® mobile app for iPhones and Androids. This interactive, on-the-go guide allows visitors to plan their next adventure in state parks. It features photos, maps, park information, activity and location search tools and more. Spring is the perfect time to use the app to find and visit your new favorite state park.
Spring also signals a time for us to begin spring cleaning. State parks do their “Spring Cleaning” in the form of prescribed burning. This resource management activity mimics natural fires that keep our environment healthy. Prescribed fires, carefully set by trained land managers, prevent wildfires and help our woodland plant and animal habitats by re-creating necessary and natural fire patterns. Visit state parks this spring to see thousands of native flowers and wildlife in their natural habitats.
When visiting state parks this spring, keep your eyes open for baby critters such as turtles and chicks of all species. It’s nesting season in our coastal parks. Visitors can see more than 200 species of birds and their chicks at Honeymoon Island, Caladesi Island and Anclote Key Preserve state parks in Pinellas County. Enjoy spring weather and gorgeous coastal views at the new restaurant at Sebastian Inlet State Park in Melbourne Beach. Look out for wildlife from the decks of the Inlet Grill and Gifts. Visitors have a chance to view more than 180 species of birds during the course of a year at this park.
Citizens and visitors can find many great escapes in Florida’s state parks. With more than 100 miles of sandy beaches, our 41 beach parks offer recreational activities for everyone to enjoy. For a different way to experience Florida’s beautiful beaches, try horseback riding on the beach at Amelia Island State Park in Jacksonville. Visit Florida's southernmost state park, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in Key West, for many recreation opportunities and to learn about U.S. military history. White sand beaches and rolling dunes covered with sea oats make Perdido Key State Park in Pensacola a favorite destination for swimmers and sunbathers.
On April 22, join our 171 state parks and trails as we celebrate Earth Day. From beaches to forests, springs to swamps, the state park system’s nearly 800,000 acres of preserved Florida is something everyone should experience. Many state parks also welcome the spring season with festivals and events that are always fun for the whole family. Check out our app or for details.
No matter what you like to do, Florida’s state parks have something for everyone. On behalf of the entire Florida Park Service, I invite all Floridians to go outside, have fun and learn about our precious environment this spring.
Donald V. Forgione
Director, Florida Park Service
Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Celebrating 500 Years of Florida History

April offers many opportunities to explore history at a state park.

The historic home of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
The historic home of author, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
There are several opportunities to learn about history this month at Florida's state parks.
Celebrating the "Year of The Yearling"
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park, Cross Creek

Now through April 2014, the staff and surrounding community at Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park in Cross Creek will celebrate “The Year of The Yearling.” In April 1938, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings published The Yearling, for which she won a Pulitzer Prize the following April. Even after 75 years, this story of a young boy and his pet fawn, as they mature from one spring to the next in the Florida scrub, rings with authenticity and life.
Programs and events are being planned for April 2013 to April 2014 to celebrate 75 years of the book. Some events are at the park and some are in the surrounding Gainesville area. The opening event is a Rawlings exhibit as part of the Matheson Museum’s Small Towns, Farms & Families exhibit. Visit it from March 1 through May 31 and enjoy a taste of rural Florida. Also enjoy an outdoor viewing of MGM’s classic The Yearling on April 7 and a presentation about the author (a living historian is expected to make a surprise guest appearance!) on April 12.
All three of these events will be held at the Matheson Museum, 528 Southeast 1st Avenue, Gainesville, Florida. The Matheson Museum is free and open to the public Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Antique Tractor Show
Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park
, White Springs
Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 4, 5 & 6, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Enjoy 200 years of rural American history and the craftsmanship and durability of American farm machinery. Demonstrations, exhibits, competitions and food concessions will be available. Children will especially enjoy the rooster crowing contest. $5 per vehicle, up to eight people.
10th Annual Legends & Lore Festival
Fallings Waters State Park
, Chipley
Friday, April 19, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Step back in time to experience Florida before electricity, cars and Mickey Mouse. Blacksmiths, gristmills, soap and butter makers will demonstrate their crafts along with military reenactors. Food concessions, live animal displays and live music will entertain. Free to participants.
7th Annual Infantry Register Muster
Dudley Farm Historic State Park
, Newberry
Friday and Saturday, April 19 & 20, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Witness history as living historians and interpreters portray the mustering, training and camp life of the “Confederate States of America” Army in 1862. Responding to a “second call for men” these men became the 7th Florida Infantry Regiment and were commanded by Captain P.B.H. Dudley, Sr. Visitors will see how these new soldiers were trained in weaponry and how to work with other artillery and cavalry units. Bring bug repellant and wear comfortable shoes. $5 per vehicle, up to eight people.
VIVA FLORIDA 500Florida’s state parks and trails are joining the Florida Department of State in commemorating 500 years of Florida history throughout 2013. This significant milestone marks the anniversary of Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon’s landing on the east coast of a mysterious land – a land he named La Florida.
Join us throughout 2013 as we commemorate Florida's rich heritage and the events that have shaped the state.

Celebrate Earth Day in 2013

Monday, April 22 is officially Earth Day. Visitor's to Florida's state parks will celebrate throughout the month.
Earth Day at Honeymoon Island State Park
Earth Day at Honeymoon Island State Park
Florida's state parks will commemorate Earth Day with events focusing on environmental education and nature-based recreation for the whole family.
Earth Day is the largest civic event in the world, celebrated simultaneously around the globe by people of all backgrounds and nationalities. More than a billion people participate in Earth Day events every year.
“Earth Day is a time for us all to reflect on our beautiful environment and to continue to work together on ways to protect it,” said Donald Forgione, DEP’s Florida Park Service Director. “Florida’s 171 state parks and trails protect and conserve our natural resources, while providing excellent opportunities for recreation and fun.”
The first official Earth Day was held in 1970. With the mission of uniting the world toward a common cause of environmental protection and conservation, the United Nations observed the first global Earth Day with the annual ringing of the Peace Bell on March 21, 1971.
The following state parks will host special events in honor of Earth Day 2013:

  • April 6, Native Plant Day: An Earth Day Event at Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park, Key Largo
  • April 13, Earth Day Celebration at Florida Caverns State Park, Marianna
  • April 20, Earth Day Guided Hike and Recycle Camp Site Program at Lake Kissimmee State Park, Lake Wales
  • April 20, Earth Day Beach Clean-Up at Henderson Beach State Park, Destin
  • April 20, Celebrate Earth Day with Exotic Plant Removal at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Spring Hill
  • April 20, Island Earth Day Celebration at Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin
  • April 20, Earth Day Event with Special Exhibits at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, Homosassa
  • April 20, Earth Day Event with Drum Circle at Koreshan State Historic Site, Estero
  • April 20, 18th Annual Earth Day Celebration at Bahia Honda State Park, Big Pine Key
  • April 20 - 21, Earth Day Celebration Weekend at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park, Palm Coast
  • April 21, Earth Day Celebration at Oscar Scherer State Park, Osprey
  • April 21, Earth Day: Celebrate All Things Green! at The Barnacle Historic State Park, Coconut Grove

  • Other Special Events and Family Fun

    Upcoming Special Events

    Other Important News

      Mobile App for Smartphones
      Plan your state park adventures using the new Pocket Ranger® app for your smartphone.The FREE Florida State Parks Pocket Ranger® mobile app is available now on iTunes, Android Market and

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