Staff Spotlight, Jay Garner

Jay Garner riding a four wheeler.

Environmental Specialist, Jay Garner

Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park

Environmental Specialist Paul “Jay” Garner has been working to protect Florida’s natural resources for almost 25 years. With his father being in the military, Jay has had the opportunity to see many different environments all over the world. He has always had a love of the outdoors, especially the plants. He loves identifying different plants in the wild and learning about how the live and grow in their environments.  

As an environmental specialist at Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park, Jay works closely within resource management aspects of the park. This includes prescribed fire, hydrologic restoration, habitat restoration and invasive plant removal. You can most often catch him in the woods working on a project, identifying plants or controlling invasive animals.

Of all his responsibilities at the park, Jay’s primary responsibility is the park’s fire program. He has been in this role for almost 20 years. 

Jay uses a particular set of skills to apply all the positive effects of fire on the park’s natural communities (reduce wildfire danger, increase food for animals) while minimizing the negative effects (dead trees, decreased food for wildlife). Jay works with an amazing team of professional firefighters from this park and at other parks throughout the state. These professionals have burned more than 1 million acres to benefit wildlife and to protect lives and property from dangerous, uncontrolled wildfires.

Jay says that the thing that keeps him coming back every day is the fact that he gets to work outdoors. The multitude of natural communities and plant life are what drew him to Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park, in particular. The extensive salt marshes are his favorite place in the park. He says “I’m in awe every time I’m out there.”

Jay’s plans for the future include completing more extensive and challenging prescribed burns in the park and continuing to use his knowledge to preserve and protect the environment.

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