| Florida State Parks Update Showcases Importance of these Landscapes for Environment and Economy
|At the meeting of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Tomkow (R-Auburndale), Interim Chief of Staff of DEP Justin Wolfe provided an update on State Park projects from this past year. Florida’s four-time national gold-medal winner state parks system was established in 1935, and currently includes 175 state parks, trails, and historic sites. Our parks provided $4.4 billion in direct economic impact to local economies during FY 2020-21, with average attendance in the range of 25-30 million visitors annually. Management of resources in Florida State Parks encompasses natural resources such as forests, springs, seagrass beds, beach dunes, and cultural treasures such as Native American burial sites and historic forts. Regular, active management of these resources include requiring prescribed burns, removal of invasive exotic plants, and restoration of hydrologic flow. Additionally, the parks’ infrastructure also requires a variety of construction and maintenance activities that include repair and maintenance of roads, buildings, campgrounds and other infrastructure, constructing new facilities, and ensuring that park structures are safe and ADA-accessible. DEP Chief of Staff Wolfe highlighted work completed this year at eight state parks, including Torreya State Park, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, and Little Manatee State Park. Annual funding from the legislature is put to good use each year. Our state parks need to be a priority to preserve these pristine resources for generations of Floridians.