The Florida State Parks Foundation is urging the state legislature to fully fund Governor DeSantis’ 2023-2024 budget request for Florida’s esteemed state parks, according to a press release.
The proposed budget includes over $186 million to be allocated toward park operations, trail and historic site maintenance, essential repairs, renovations, resource management, and enhancing accessibility features.
In the previous fiscal year, Florida State Parks welcomed more than 30 million visitors and generated an estimated economic impact of $3.9 billion. These parks offer a variety of recreational opportunities, preserve native ecosystems, and provide access to historical sites.
Tammy Gustafson, president of the Florida State Parks Foundation, emphasized the value of these parks to Florida residents and tourists alike.
Our state parks offer public access to beautiful natural settings, world-class outdoor recreation, and fascinating historical sites while attracting visitors from across the nation and supporting thousands of jobs,” she said.
Recently, the Foundation’s volunteer board of directors met with over 20 lawmakers at the Florida Capitol to discuss the economic and environmental benefits of state parks and highlight the need for funding.
During these meetings, the board members presented a state-level summary of Florida State Parks and specific data related to the parks within each lawmaker’s district.
Florida State Parks, which consist of 175 parks, trails, and historic sites across 800,000 acres and 100 miles of beaches, has won the National Recreation and Park Association’s National Gold Medal Award four times (1999, 2005, 2013, 2019).
These parks offer a wide range of activities, such as camping, hiking, swimming, paddling, and fishing, while also protecting and managing native ecosystems and wildlife.
Julia Gill Woodward, CEO of the Florida State Parks Foundation, expressed gratitude for the legislature’s long-standing support of state parks and looked forward to the approval of Governor DeSantis’ budget.
Gustafson emphasized the importance of securing full funding for Florida State Parks, stating, “We are confident that the Governor’s generous budget allocation will provide our parks with the support they need for the year ahead.”
As the decision on funding awaits, outdoor enthusiasts, campers, and RVers can continue to enjoy the myriad of activities and experiences offered by Florida State Parks while contributing to the state’s thriving outdoor recreation industry.