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Florida Department of Environmental Protection

October 15, 2014 Newsletter

October 18 is International Archaeology Day

~Celebrate archaeology day at a Florida State Park.~   

Archaeological remains at San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park
Remains of a Spanish bombproof foundation at San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park.

International Archaeology Day celebrates the thrill of discovery through archaeological excavations and insights into the past. The day was first celebrated in 2011 as National Archaeology Day and included 115 programs throughout 37 U.S. states, four Canadian provinces and an event in the United Kingdom. By 2013, the day saw 375 events worldwide, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Egypt, France, Germany, Ireland and more. Last year 75,000 people participated, resulting in a 20 percent increase from two years prior.

On Sat. Oct. 25, San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park in St. Marks will hold an International Archaeology Day Celebration with a focus on San Marcos and Fort Ward in the Civil War Era. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will include presentations by archaeologists, kids’ activities, pottery making and flint knapping. Local historians will speak about the impressive history of the park and Civil War Reenactors will provide Living History Demonstrations. The event is being held in conjunction with St. Marks’ Annual Stone Crab Festival and the 26th Monarch Butterfly Festival hosted by the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

Florida is home to six archaeological state parks and sites, each offering a step back into Florida’s history. Crystal River Archaeological State Park in Crystal River is a six-mound complex containing burial mounds, temple and platform mounds, a plaza area and a substantial midden. For 1,600 years the site served as an imposing ceremonial center for as many as 7,500 Native Americans. Located in Northwest Florida in Tallahassee, Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park encompasses four earthen temple mounds. More than eight centuries ago, Native Americans inhabited the area in a village which served as a cultural, religious and population center. Closely situated near the Lake Jackson mounds, Letchworth-Love Mounds Archaeological State Park houses Florida’s tallest Native American ceremonial mound. At an astounding 46 feet in height, the mound is believed to have been built by members of the Weeden Island Culture 1,100 to 1,800 years ago.

Located in Palmetto, the Madira Bickel Mound State Archaeological Site was the first site in Florida to be designated as a State Archaeological Site. The 20-foot-tall, flat-topped, ceremonial mound was donated by Karl and Madira Bickel in 1948 and is composed of sand, shell and village debris. Archaeological excavations have discovered three periods of Native American cultures dating back to 2,000 years ago. Further south in Estero, Mound Key Archaeological State Park is believed to have been the ceremonial center for the Calusa Indians. Framed in forests of mangrove trees, the shell mounds and ridges of Mound Key rise more than 30 feet above the waters of Estero. Deep in the heart of the Florida Keys in Islamorada, San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve State Park features a submerged shipwreck from a Spanish flotilla. The San Pedro was a 287-ton, Dutch-built ship, which sank in a hurricane in 1733. After major salvage efforts in the 1960s, the San Pedro has been left as a large pile of ballast stones upon the ocean floor.


Florida Joins the National Geographic U.S. Gulf Coast States Geotourism Program

~Discover and experience Florida State Parks through Geotourism.~

A view of the caverns

A view of the caverns at Florida Caverns State Park.

Visit the National Geographic U.S. Gulf Coast States Geotourism website to begin discovering the beauty of the Gulf Coast States. As a result of the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, the National Geographic United States Gulf Coast States Geotourism Program seeks to capture and promote the culture and heritage of the region through the voices and stories of the people who live there in an effort to encourage visitors to return. Visitors to the site can use the interactive MapGuide to view where sites and activities are located or use the plan your trip search bar to view a specific park. Visitors can also create their own account and save places they would like to visit in their trip planner. Visitors will be able to recommend their own sites, while interacting with people and other locations which are still thriving. Visitors are able to find new places throughout the site and receive first-hand accounts from locals encouraging visitors to get out and discover new areas throughout the gulf coast. Through their efforts, National Geographic hopes to increase visitation through the welcoming persona of the gulf coast communities.

The states surrounding the Gulf of Mexico can be referred to as a mixing-pot of unique sites, cultures, history and artistic expression. The United States gulf coast includes Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi and has been called the “southern crescent” for years. For centuries, this region has attracted a myriad of visitors, interlacing the connection between travel and tourism within the four states. Geotourism encompasses a range of travel, including culture, heritage, history, food, nature, music and art.

Florida State Parks has been working to include all of its 171 state parks and trails into the Geotourism site. Florida’s state parks offer some of the most beautiful natural areas throughout Florida, including many historic places and recreational opportunities. Currently 88 of Florida’s state parks have been added to the site, with more parks being added daily. Each Florida state park includes a summary of the park, recreational opportunities, operating hours and location, along with photos and contact information. Visitors to the site have the opportunity to share each Florida state park addition through Facebook or Twitter and can give a “thumbs up” on the page.

Apalachicola River Blueway Becomes a National Recreational Trail

~Take a trip along the distinguished Florida paddling trail.~   

View of the river
A visitor kayaking on the Apalachicola River.

The Apalachicola River spans 106 miles from Chattahoocheee to Apalachicola Bay. The river accounts for up to 35 percent of freshwater flow on the west coast of Florida and is the highest flowing river in the state. The river houses a variety of fish and wildlife and is considered a biodiversity hot spot with primitive camping areas along the trail and a tremendous amount of opportunities to view nature while traveling along its waters. Hunting in the fall and fishing for largemouth bass, catfish and striped bass are among the most popular recreational opportunities available along the Apalachicola River. Four campsites are located along the river and many campsites accommodate tents, campers and small RVs.

This past summer, the U.S. Department of the Interior designated the Apalachicola River Blueway as Florida’s 42nd National Recreation Trail. The National Recreation Trail designation distinguishes the Apalachicola River as a trail that links communities and supports recreational activities. Already designated as a Florida paddling trail, the Apalachicola River is among the top river trails in Florida within the Florida Greenways and Trails system. The National Recreation Trail designation was announced on June 7 in conjunction with 21 additional trails in 11 different states in celebration of National Trails Day.

The Florida Greenways and Trails system works to connect and highlight trails and has a number of criteria for protecting and enhancing natural, recreational, cultural and historic resources in order for a river to become designated as a paddling trail. The department participated in a five-day paddling trip down the river from Oct. 7-11. In its seventh year, the event known as RiverTrek celebrated the river and raised funds for conservation. Participants were greeted along the way by mayors and elected officials, who read proclamations and provided information about the river’s importance and the National Recreation Trail designation.

More Events in October

Upcoming Special Events

Other Important News

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