Archive for state parks

Trying to do the right thing can cost you

It’s been a tradition for me for many years to take the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend and go camping. My husband works a regular weekday-type job, so with this day off, it gives us a chance to go camping somewhere for a long weekend. January’s weather can be testy, but at least it’s not broilingly (is that a word?) hot.

This year, our planned camping trip fell through for a variety of reasons. We had reservations to camp at a Florida state park. I called ReserveAmerica the day we were supposed to arrive. I figured if I canceled my reservation, the campsite could be given to someone else — that’s all I was trying to do.

But the reservations agent told me she recommended against canceling because not only would I pay for the campsite that night (that’s ReserveAmerica’s policy if you cancel the day of), but I’d also get a $10 cancellation fee.

So I said, all right, how about if I cancel tomorrow night’s reservation? I had two nights.

The reservation agent said she couldn’t do that and again recommended against canceling.

So here I was, trying to do the right thing by putting my campsite back into the system for another camper — only to be told I’d be socked with additional fees.

Penalized for trying to do the right thing.

Just wanted folks to be aware.

If you need to cancel a reservation, try to do it as soon as possible to avoid having to pay for a campsite you won’t be using.


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Florida state parks contribute big bucks and jobs to economy

Every year, I think, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection reminds everyone how nature-based recreation is important to our state’s economy. Yesterday, the DEP said Florida’s state parks contributed more than $936M to local communities, creating 18,700 jobs.

That’s just the state parks. That doesn’t include national parks, or state or national forests, or national wildlife refuges, or other natural lands.

It’s important to frequently look at how nature tourism contributes to the economy, because if you don’t, then you get people saying, “Oh, it’s just a few people out there looking at birds — how does that help anybody?”

Something interesting to me about this year’s news from the DEP is the list of top-generating state parks. In the past, if I’m not mistaken, it’s always been John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo. Now, the list looks like this (taken from the DEP news release):

St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach: $43M

Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin: $42M

John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo: $38.M

Lovers Key State Park in Fort Myers Beach: $37.8M

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne: $35.5M

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Florida opens 161st state park

Ever heard of St. Marks River State Park? It’s a brand new Florida state park (the 161st) opening today. About 20 miles outside of Tallahassee, it’s not far from St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and Wakulla Springs State Park.

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Myakka Canopy Walkway a must-do

Have you been to Myakka River State Park in the past few years? Or ever? If not, please find a way to go this year. This St. Petersburg Times article has a nice profile on the Canopy Walkway in the park. The walkway is one of the few places where you can get into the tree canopy — without climbing a tree, that is. Climb the tower, walk across the swinging bridge to the next tower, and climb even higher up to the top observation deck — if you’re not afraid of heights! The tower is 74 or 75 feet high.

I went with my family over Memorial Day weekend. The river was so low that I hardly recognized it. It was even unnavigable in at least one spot. I hope rain brings it back. Can anyone tell me how the river is doing lately?

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Endangered torreya tree becoming even more rare

When I visited Torreya State Park a few years ago, I was amazed at how high the hills were in the surrounding area, and how high the river bank was as the Apalachicola River flowed past. I was also amazed to learn the park is named after the torreya tree, which is an endangered tree found pretty much only in a few counties in Florida and in some places in Japan.

The torreya is rare and getting more rare, this article says. Environmental factors and fungal infections are hurting the torreya population even as researchers and organizations try to save it.

I think endangered and threatened animals get more attention than endangered and threatened plants do — and if I’m not mistaken, there are more species of plants on the endangered list than there are animals. When you think about a species disappearing, it’s sad.

Photo from Torreya State Park

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Mermaid State Park

Ha, just kidding with that title. But it’s not too far off.

Weeki Wachee Springs, the 60-year-old tourist attraction in central-western Florida, could become a Florida state park, this St. Petersburg Times article says. The city of Weeki Wachee owns the attraction but leases the land from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, which has been in dispute with the city over the land for some time.

Other previously private attractions have been turned into state parks, namely botanical gardens but also other places with springs like DeLeon Springs State Park and Wekiwa Springs State Park. What would you think of Weeki Wachee State Park?

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Plan to dump muck at state park denied

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