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~Take Me Fishing™ Fans Select Favorite Places to Boat and Fish During Nature’s Waterpark Showdown~



Manatees enjoy the 73-degree water at Blue Spring State Park in Orange City.

ORANGE CITY — The Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Blue Spring State Park, located in central Florida, was voted in the top eight state parks in America by Take Me Fishing Facebook fans based on fishing, boating and family fun.
"From swimming in 73-degree water, to boating, fishing and viewing manatees, to camping, Blue Spring State Park is nature-based recreation at its best,” said Florida Park Service Director Donald Forgione. “Thanks to the Facebook fans that voted and we hope to see all of them and their friends and families at the park.”
As top priority of the Department, improved access and educational opportunities at Florida state parks are an important part of fostering environmental appreciation for residents and visitors alike. Blue Spring State Park covers more than 2,600 acres, including the largest spring on the St. Johns River. Blue Spring is a designated Manatee Refuge and the winter home to a growing population of West Indian Manatees. The spring and spring run are closed during Manatee season, mid-November through March.  Swimming or diving with manatees is not permitted and this rule is strictly enforced.
In 1766, the spring area visited by Colonial American botanist John Bartram, but it was not until 1856 that it was settled by Louis Thursby and his family. The Thursby house, built in 1872, remains standing. The spring´s crystal clear, 73-degree water can be enjoyed by swimmers, snorkelers, and certified scuba divers with a partner. The river is popular for fishing, canoeing, and boating and river boat tours are available.  The park has plenty of picnic areas and a hiking trail. For overnight stays, air-conditioned cabins and campgrounds are available.
Blue Spring is also part of the aquatic preserve program overseen by Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas. Natural beauty, abundant wildlife and archaeological intrigue can be found in the aquatic preserve. Aquatic preserves are designated by Florida statute to be preserved and conserved for future generations.
Fans of the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation’s (RBFF) Take Me Fishing campaign took to Facebook this summer, to participate in Nature’s Waterpark Showdown. Each fan was invited to help determine the top eight natural “waterparks,” or state parks, for boating and fishing in America. They could also enter for a chance to win the grand prize: a vacation to a state park for a family of four. Twenty-four pre-determined watering holes were put to the test and after eight weeks of voting, the fans have spoken.
The eight winning parks include:
- Lake Murray State Park, Oklahoma
- Itasca State Park, Minnesota
- Blue Spring State Park, Florida
- El Dorado State Park, Kansas
- Presque Isle State Park, Pennsylvania
- Cave Lake State Park, Nevada
- Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee
- Wellington State Park, New Hampshire
Many families look for places that are both fun and affordable when planning vacations. There are 7,804 state parks in the United States.  Additionally, 90 percent of Americans live within one hour of navigable water.  As for the cost, on average the cost of fishing licenses for a family of four is under half the cost for a family season pass to the average commercial waterpark.
“Families are looking for unique, close to home trips,” said Frank Peterson, RBFF President and CEO. “Blue Spring State Park is an example of an enjoyable and affordable fishing and boating hotspot right in your own backyard.”
Spending time with family and enjoying nature are not the only joys and benefits that fishing and boating bring.  Many may not realize that the purchase of a fishing license or boat registration helps to preserve natural places, like state parks, and is vital to aquatic conservation efforts.
“A portion of all fishing tackle and license sales, as well as boat supply and registration sales, fund the conservation and preservation of our nation’s waterways helping to ensure that future generations can enjoy all that nature has to offer,” said Peterson.
Since 2007, the Take Me Fishing campaign has generated nearly $30 million for state conservation efforts.  The campaign increases awareness of the need to protect, conserve and restore the nation’s aquatic resources by encouraging participation in recreational boating and fishing.  These efforts impact conservation efforts in state’s like Florida and throughout the country.
For more information on the Nature’s Waterpark Showdown winners visit the Take Me Fishing™ Facebook page at  The parks showcased in the campaign are just a fraction of the many outdoor recreation spots available throughout the nation. For more information on boating and fishing and a full list of places to participate in the sports, visit