A Message From Our Director
Over the past month, I have ventured out to state parks to see how visitors are taking advantage of outdoor recreation activities.
I join our staff in feeling a special pride knowing that we take care of so many great places for people to walk, bicycle, run, swim or push strollers. Many parks have shade to protect us from the sun, and I enjoy resting under a shady oak and letting a gentle breeze pass by.
July, with its long days, is a good time to recommit to outdoor fitness. State and local parks are healthy destinations, even during the warm and humid summer months. July is also National Park and Recreation Month, our time for celebrating the people who make the parks.
You may see rangers and park managers collecting entrance fees or answering a visitor question. They are there from morning till dark, committed not just to making sure you have a safe memorable experience, but also protecting wildlife habitat and keeping buildings and restrooms maintained. Florida Park Service staff, volunteers and even the concession staff who rent kayaks and serve food are there because they love being in service — the most important word in our name.
Since the parks reopened, many visitors have sent messages of appreciation for staff going above and beyond. Words of support and thank-yous shared in conversations with rangers, on social media or our information line really matter. The favorite part of my month has been reading notes praising staff at Hontoon Island State Park, Cayo Costa State Park, Koreshan State Park and others.
Recently, staff at one of my favorite parks, the Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail, were named 2020 “Bike Saints” by a local bike group for their service to cyclists. I know this well-deserved recognition made the team proud, as it did me.
Whether it’s a unique award or nice note, I’m glad when anyone takes the time to share a good park experience. Thank you for supporting Florida State Parks.
Eric Draper, Director