Governor Crist and environmental organizations encourage Floridians to experience nature
TALLAHASSEE - Governor Charlie Crist recently signed a proclamation recognizing June as National Great Outdoors Month. In celebration, the Get Outdoors Florida! Coalition and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are encouraging residents and visitors to celebrate National Get Outdoors Day on Saturday, June 13 by visiting a state park, trail or coastal managed area.
“We are pleased to be part of the effort to reconnect Floridians with nature,” said DEP’s Deputy Secretary for Land and Recreation, Bob Ballard. “Florida’s 160 state parks, numerous state trails and 41 aquatic preserves offer many recreational opportunities for citizens and visitors to get outdoors and experience the state’s natural treasures.”
Florida residents and visitors can learn about ways to celebrate National Get Outdoors Day by viewing the 100 activities featured as part of DEP’s recently launched Rediscover Florida - 100 Ways in 100 Days campaign. The initiative encourages Floridians to explore the many exciting and affordable recreation opportunities in their own backyards. From the traditional activities - hiking, biking, fishing, picnicking or camping, to the unique - festivals, museums and education centers, there are countless activities to experience and enjoy. Visitors to the Rediscover Florida Web site can explore an interactive list of 100 activities and track how many of the activities they can complete. To view the list, visit www.dep.state.fl.us and click Rediscover Florida.
“By heading outside and participating in any of the countless outdoor activities Florida’s natural areas have to offer, Floridians are helping their families achieve not only a better appreciation of nature, but a healthier lifestyle,” said Bob Wattendorf, Chairman of the Get Outdoors Florida! Coalition. “A myriad of state parks, greenways, trails, forests and management areas are available for your recreation, as well as federal parks, forests and refuges, not to mention all the local parks and your own backyard. The key is to get outdoors and actively enjoy our state’s outstanding natural resources-it will do you good - body, mind and soul.”
Special events taking place outdoors on June 13 include:
- NATIVE! IT’S THE WAY TO GROW! - Rainbow Springs State Park
Date: Saturday, June 13, 2009, 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Join the Staff and Volunteers of Rainbow Springs State Park for a morning of fun and learning in conjunction with National Gardening Week (June 7-13). For more information, call 352-465-8539.
- NATIONAL GARDENS WEEK - Washington Oaks Gardens State Park
Date: Saturday, June 13, 2009, 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Join a Park Ranger on a guided walk through the formal gardens, stopping along the way to talk about various flowers and plants. After the tour stop by the Friends of Washington Oaks second Saturday plant sale and find some of the same plants that are found throughout the Gardens at Washington Oaks. For more information, call 386-446-6780
- ANNUAL FREE KIDS’ FISHING CLINIC - Fort Clinch State Park
Date: June 13th, 2009, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Kids learn how to be responsible anglers, tie knots, cast and more. Kids receive a free rod and reel. Bait is provided. Guardians must attend. For more information, call 904-277-7274.
- EARLY BOAT TOUR - Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
Date: Saturday, June 13, 2009, 8:00 a.m.
Wakulla Springs Lodge & State Park invite guests to enjoy the early morning sights and sounds while cruising the scenic Wakulla River. Breakfast is available in the historic Wakulla Springs Lodge. $8.00 Adults, $6.00 Child. Reservations required. For more information, call 850-926-0700.
- STARGAZING - Silver River State Park
Date: June 13, 2009, 7:30 pm
The Ocala Astronomy Club brings knowledge and telescopes for an educational evening under the stars. Bring a lawn chair or blanket. Insecticide suggested. Event is weather permitting. Regular park admission fees apply. For more information, email
- FLAG DAY CELEBRATION - Fort Cooper State Park
Date: June 13, 2009, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Celebrating our flag. Opening ceremonies begin at 8:30 a.m. Learn about the history of the U.S. flag, flag etiquette and other related facts. Demonstrations and informational booths by military and civic organizations. Free pancake breakfast from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. and free hot dog, chips and drink from 12:00 noon until 2:00 p.m. This event is free with regular park admission. For more information, call 352-726-0315.
- KAYAK POKER RUN - St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park
Date: Saturday, June 13, 2009, 9:00 a.m.
Kayaks, Etc. is hosting a Kayak Poker Run to benefit the park’s Citizen Support Organization. Join in for a scenic ride on the Sebastian River, beginning and ending at Dale Wimbrow Park in Sebastian. Registration includes lunch. $20.00 per hand - $10.00 additional per person for Kayak Rental or a seat in a Trader Canoe. For more information, contact Kayaks, Etc. at 772-794-9900
- PLANT A RAIN GARDEN AND PROTECT OUR WATER - Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park
Date: Saturday, June 13, 2009, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.
Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park invites the public to a rain garden workshop at the Gardener’s Cottage by Think About Personal Pollution (TAPP) Project Coordinator, Nancy Miller and Maclay Gardens Master Gardener Pam Sawyer. The program is free with paid park admission. For more information, call (850) 487-4115
- BREAKFAST WITH A RANGER - Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
Date: Saturday, June 13, 2009, 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Description: Topsail Hill Preserve State Park invites guests to Breakfast with a Ranger. Join the Rangers of Topsail Hill and ask questions about park wildlife. This program is family oriented and ideal for the whole family to enjoy. A donation of $3 is requested to cover the cost of food, which goes to Friends of Topsail Hill Preserve State Park to enhance the park, or guests can bring their own breakfast. Park at the Day-Use area off Hwy 30A and take a short hike to the clubhouse. A $2.00 entry fee is required.
The Get Outdoors Florida! Coalition is a partnership of land managers, government agencies, children’s advocates, health care professionals, public interest groups and other individuals formed in 2008. The coalition is the product of a wide array of partners coming together to address societal needs including public well-being, health issues and natural resource conservation. The coalition envisions a healthy Florida community that is connected with nature and reflects social diversity exhibiting a conservation ethic ensuring a sustainable future and recreational opportunities.
Tips for outdoor activities, as well as a calendar featuring a wide variety of planned outdoor events for youth, families and mentors can be found on the Coalition’s Web site, www.getoutdoorsflorida.org
National Get Outdoors Day is an outgrowth of the Get Outdoors USA! campaign, which encourages Americans, especially our youth, to seek out healthy, active outdoor lives and embrace our parks, forests, refuges and other public lands and waters. The pilot effort of National Get Outdoors Day was launched on June 14, 2008, led by the USDA Forest Service (FS) and the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) . Last year, more than 50 official GO Day sites across the nation welcomed thousands of new faces to the joy and benefits of the great outdoors.
The first two-time Gold Medal winner honoring the nation’s best state park service, Florida’s state park system is one of the largest in the country with 160 parks, most of which are open 365 days a year. Florida’s state parks, which span more than 700,000 acres and include more than 100 miles of sandy white beach, provide an affordable outing for people of all ages. Caladesi Island State Park, just off the coast of Pinellas County, was honored with the coveted Best Beach in the Nation award in 2008. To learn more about Florida’s state parks, visit www.floridastateparks.org
Florida recently garnered national recognition for its commitment to facilitating an outstanding statewide system of trails. Honored for its vision, initiatives and management of trails throughout the state, Florida was the first-ever recipient of the Best Trails State Award presented by American Trails, the only national, nonprofit organization working on behalf of all trail interests. To learn more about Florida trails, visit www.FloridaGreenwaysandTrails.com