20 Years of Service Award
Vernon Compton has been a member of the Blackwater Heritage Trail Inc., a citizen support organization, since 2000. During his tenure he has acted as president, vice president and board member. He has always been an outstanding advocate for Blackwater Heritage State Trail.
In recent years, Vernon worked with the friends group to purchase trees for restoration along the trail corridor and arranged a planting with other members and park staff in 2019. The group funded the purchase of 20 seven-gallon potted trees from a local nursery. Blackwater Heritage Inc. has worked with Panhandle Growers over the years to provide trees for trail restoration. The nursery, in return for the repeated business and notice of a good cause, donated eight large longleaf pines to add to the tree order.
On December 3, 2019, Blackwater River State Park and Blackwater Heritage State Trail staff along with volunteers planted all 28 trees along the trail. The eight longleaf pines were planted as a buffer between the trail and a dirt road. The result improved the aesthetics immediately and over time will provide much needed shade to this section of trail.
Vernon deserves full credit for the recent grant award from Restore Act Funding. The grant was made possible as a result of the Deepwater Horizon/BP Oil disaster. Vernon made staff aware of the grant in 2018 and helped start the application process. He made sure the park knew what was needed to receive the grant funding and developed a partnership with Santa Rosa County to assist with acquisition and administration. Vernon attended all planning meetings on the trail's behalf to ensure the grant stayed on track, and he reported the status of the grant through the entire requisition process
The grant was awarded in late 2020 and materials have been secured. The grant will include the addition of a vault style restroom, 16 park benches and three much needed water fountains to be installed on the trail corridor. It will also include repairs to asphalt cracks/heaves and bridge transitions that have settled over time.
Vernon enjoys local history and preserving the environment. The Blackwater Heritage State Trail is rich in history and Vernon takes great pride in ensuring that non-native species are kept in check, and he consistently provides opportunities to add native species back into the trail environment. Vernon is an avid trail user and cares deeply about how the natural environment. He is passionate about the trees we plant, and he makes it a point to watch over and protect them from harm.
2020 Florida State Parks Volunteer Recognition Award Winner