Start your New Year at a Florida State Park




 Connect With Us! Facebook Logo Instagram Logo Pinterest Logo Twitter Logo YouTube Logo

The Real Florida Connection Banner

 A Message from Director Eric Draper

Director Eric Draper giving a speech

As the new Director of Florida State Parks, I am very impressed by the passion and commitment I've witnessed while visiting parks throughout the state. Staff, volunteers and partner organizations are truly focused on our mission of protection, restoration, and interpretation of natural and cultural resources along with providing resource-based recreation. We all walk in the footsteps of others, and each day I remember I am just one of many custodians in a long-history of stewardship. In my role, I will follow the tradition of telling the story about how good stewardship of land, water and wildlife, and providing wonderful experiences, will lead to even greater recognition of and support for state and local parks. Our parks make Florida a great place to live and visit. Join me in telling the story of your favorite park and this wonderful system of special places.


Resource Management at Work: Reshaping Torreya State Park 

 Harvesting Wiregrass

Torreya State Park staff in Liberty County are restoring former logging land back to its original longleaf pine/wiregrass ecosystem. This habitat is one of the richest in North America with great species diversity. Imperiled plants and animals like the Torreya tree, Florida Yew and Fire-Back Crayfish can be found within the park. Restoring these lands to their original state will help safeguard these species survival for generations to come.

Park staff and partners from the Nature Conservancy have completed restoring 280 acres of wiregrass, and are planting longleaf pine seedlings on 300 more acres.

Learn More About Resource Management



 Students Assist in Prescribed Fire

Several Park Staff Members assist in a prescribed burn

A prescribed fire of more than 800 acres was completed at Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park in Clay County. Park staff teamed up with students from the University of Wisconsin - Stephens Point to complete the fire. Florida State Parks partners with organizations to maintain parks, share valuable knowledge on park management, and improve resource conservation. Stephens Point student's were led by Squad Leader Zach Richards. “This was our 6th year coming down here, it’s great, everyone gets some really valuable experiences out of it,” Richards said. “This was a lot of these students first burn, so it was awesome to see them out there.”

Learn More About Prescribed Fire 


Florida Conservation Corps: Making a Difference

Director Eric Draper handing documents to Heather Grames

AmeriCorps serves as an incubator for future Florida State Park leaders. This year, the Florida State Parks' AmeriCorps program, Florida Conservation Corps (FLCC) will start its 21st year. The grant agreement to partner in parks supports 65 FLCC AmeriCorps members serving in parks. Their time is focused on exotic plant management, trail accessibility, volunteer recruitment, outreach and interpretation. Last year AmeriCorps members served a collective 100,356 hours towards improving state parks.

   Learn More About Florida Conservation Corps


First Day Hikes a Success

Hikers at John D. MacArthur Beach State


January 1, 2018 marked the most First Day Hikes events in Florida State Parks history. Hikes were hosted at 100 different parks, with nearly 1,500 visitors participating. Department of Environmental Protection Secretary, Noah Valenstein and Florida State Parks Director, Eric Draper attended the event at Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park. Hikers showed up to start their year off on the right foot, in spite of record low temperatures and rain across parts of the state. Thank you to the organizers and participants who made First Day Hikes a success!

Find More Hikes Near You!

 Prescribed Fire Awareness Week: January 28 - February 3 

Fire Festival Graphic

Florida State Parks kicked off Prescribed Fire Awareness Week at the annual Red Hills Fire Festival in Tallahassee. Hosted by Tall Timbers Research Station, the festival brought together organizations to inform nearly 1000 members of the community about prescribed fires and how they help protect and restore our natural lands through demonstrations and activities. Florida State Parks' Fire Coordinator Sasha Ernst attended this year's event, saying “With over 300,000 acres of fire dependent communities managed by the Florida Park Service, prescribed fire is the most important and effective resource management tool that we have to restore and maintain healthy ecosystems throughout Florida."






Did you know?


For Florida State Parks:

Graphic of Man


32.2 Million

Visitor Experiences


43,622 Jobs Created


 Animated Prescribed Fire

 99,604 Acres Actively Restored With:

Prescribed fire

Mechanical treatment

Removal of invasive exotic


Benefits include:

More opportunity for outdoor recreation

Reduced habitat loss

Protection of biodiversity 

  Our People Resources Include

graphic of park ranger

993 Full Time Employees


 83 Nonprofit Partner Groups


14,407 Volunteers


94 Concessions Partners    


 It's Florida Hiking Trails Month

Tram Tour and Swamp Walk - Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park - Learn More

Guided Nature Walk - John D. MacArthur Beach State Park - Learn More

Walk on Wild Side - Lovers Key State Park - Learn More




 #FLStateParks in the News! 

“Longtime Environmentalist Named State Parks Director” 

"Fabulous Florida: 10 spectacular ways to explore the Sunshine State" 

“Myakka River State Park offers up-close look at nature”