FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 24, 2010
CONTACT: DEP PRESS OFFICE: (850) 245-2112
PUBLIC INFORMATION (ESF 14): (850) 921-0217
FLORIDA STATE PARKS AND PRISTINE BEACHES OPEN FOR ENJOYMENT THIS MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND
~All Florida State Parks open for holiday travel~
TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Florida Park Service encourages residents and travelers to visit Florida’s state parks and pristine beaches this Memorial Day weekend. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf has not impacted any of Florida’s shoreline and all 160 Florida State Parks, including 24 state park beaches along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, are open for public enjoyment.
“With miles of beaches, springs, lakes and trails and some of the best snorkeling, kayaking, camping, hiking and fishing opportunities in the world, Florida State Parks are the perfect destination for a Memorial Day getaway with family and friends,” said DEP Secretary Michael W. Sole. “From Pensacola to Key West, Florida’s state park’s are home to some of the most beautiful coastal environments, which remain open for the public to enjoy this holiday weekend.”
Florida State Parks offer a wide variety of activities for any interest, including:
• Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, in Santa Rosa Beach, offers three miles of secluded, white sand beaches and dunes more than 25 feet tall. Three rare coastal dune lakes provide excellent freshwater fishing and the park offers one of the most popular full service camping areas in the state.
• St. Andrews State Park, in Panama City, is well known for its sugar white sands and emerald green waters. This park has more than 1.5 miles of beach on the Gulf of Mexico and Grand Lagoon. Water sports enthusiasts can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and canoeing. Two fishing piers, a jetty and a boat ramp provide ample fishing opportunities for anglers.
• Caladesi Island State Park, near St. Petersburg, is one of few completely natural islands along Florida’s Coast. The 661 acre park is only accessible by boat or ferry and was rated America’s best beach in 2008.
• Lover’s Key Island State Park, in Fort Myers, is a popular destination for canoeing and kayaking throughout inner waterways and in Estero Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Hiking is also a popular activity along the Black Island Trail – a 2.5 mile adventure through maritime hammock along the canal banks of Black Island.
• Bahia Honda State Park, in Big Pine Key, is one of Florida’s southernmost state parks, known for beautiful beaches, magnificent sunsets and excellent snorkeling. Visitors can picnic on the beach, swim or relax and enjoy balmy sea breezes. Anglers can fish from shore or bring a boat and launch at the boat ramp.
• Oleta River State Park, located on Biscayne Bay in the busy Miami metropolitan area, is Florida’s largest urban park. Offering a variety of recreational opportunities, the park is best known for miles of off-road bicycling trails. Visitors can rent kayaks, canoes, and bicycles.
• Tomoka State Park, in Ormond Beach just north of Daytona, is a popular park for wildlife viewing and offers a full service camping facilities. The park’s waters are popular for canoeing, boating and fishing. The park also protects a variety of wildlife habitats and is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with more than 160 species sighted.
• Amelia Island State Park, an easy drive from Jacksonville, protects more than 200 acres of unspoiled wilderness. The park is one of the few locations on the east coast that offers horseback riding on the beach and riding tours along the shoreline. Fishermen can surf fish along the shoreline or they can wet their line from the mile-long George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier which spans Nassau Sound.
The Florida Folk Festival, the state’s premier heritage event, will take place May 28-30 at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Springs. The festival celebrates Florida’s land, people and diverse culture with more than 300 performances by native folk and roots artists.
Created in 1935 by the Florida Legislature, 2010 marks the 75th Anniversary of Florida State Parks, which has grown from eight to 160 parks over the last 75 years. Today, the Florida Park Service manages more than 700,000 acres of Florida’s natural environment, including 100 miles of beaches, eight National Historic Landmarks and 39 sites on the National Register of Historic Places. Florida State Parks has been recognized by the National Recreation and Park Association as the nation’s first and only two-time Gold Medal winner for the nation’s best park service.