Friday, September 6, 2019

The Real Florida℠ Connection - Parks Make Life Bette

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director Eric Draper


National Public Lands Day Strengthens Parks, People and Communities

Around this time last year, I was in the dirt at Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park pulling up invasive coral ardisia plants. I was part of a group led by Florida Conservation Corps member Kelli Greene, whose job is building enthusiasm and support for invasive plant removal projects. Kelli had tasked us with clearing an acre of ardisia. The noxious weed crowds out every other plant. It must be pulled up root-and-all, or else it will produce more red seeds that persist and quickly spread.
It was National Public Lands Day, among the most significant single-day volunteer events in the nation. I went to the event at Maclay Gardens because volunteering in parks is fun and rewarding. Our energetic team of about 20 people made jokes and had a great sense of camaraderie as we pulled up plants and bagged them for disposal.
Once I learned how disruptive coral ardisia and other invasive plants are to nature, seeing a large group of them is a disturbing sight. The reward of park volunteering is seeing a forest without any coral ardisia, or a beach free of plastic debris, and knowing that it’s a better home for native plants and wildlife.
I remember that day at Maclay Gardens well because I made new friends and had a lot of fun. This year, I hope to have another memorable experience. Florida State Parks will host many opportunities to celebrate public lands beginning Saturday, September 21st, International Coastal Cleanup Day, through Saturday, September 28th, National Public Lands Day. Park entrance is free for many events, and they offer the opportunity to meet people who are excited to make America’s parks better for everyone.
You can visit our website to learn more about National Public Lands Day eventsand opportunities for individuals and organizations to volunteer year-round.

Eric Draper


Maximus the bear cub weighed only 4 pounds when he was found.

Wildlife State Park Announces New Resident

A bundle of ebony fur, bear cub Maximus has started his journey as the newest permanent resident at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park! Born in the wild in February, young Maximus was orphaned by his mother for unknown reasons. 

learn more here
National Public Lands Day banner and photo of volunteers

Connect with Nature on National Public Lands Day

Across the nation and the world, the end of September unites people to serve and care for our coasts and public lands. Saturday, September 21, is International Coastal Cleanup Day and the following Saturday, September 28, is National Public Lands Day.

learn more here
Florida Conservation Corps member Caleb Garner bags a Brazilian pepper tree cutting.

Bugs, Biologists and Brazil

What do bugs, biologists and Brazil have to do with Florida State Parks? More than you’d think. This curious combination may hold the solution to a harmful infestation plaguing Florida’s natural areas.

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Fort passageway inside Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

Where Do You Keep a Cannon?

In 1968, Navy engineer Howard S. England was assigned to investigate and report on Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West, at that time an overgrown dumpsite. England's discovery changed the fate of the old fort.

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Barnacle, Books, Birds and Boats 

Join park rangers under the Micco Pavilion for an afternoon of educational activities, games and prizes and storybook reading in a celebration of International Literacy Day.

Painting Silver Springs  

The Ocala Plein Air Painters meet the second Saturday of each month to capture the beauty of Silver Springs State Park. Come out and watch a canvas come to life.

Yoga in the Park 

September 21, Big Lagoon State Park  
Relax and unwind at Big Lagoon State Park. This serene coastal park is the perfect venue for yoga. Start your Saturday right with this free, one-hour event.     

Beginners' Bird Walk

Santa Fe Audubon Society presents the basics of birding. As you saunter through the woods, you will rediscover birds you may have seen your whole life and encounter some you never knew were there!

Find more Florida State Park events

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