Former State Park Manager Dylan Gavagni Recognized as Jim Stevenson Resource Manager of the Year 

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Former State Park Manager Dylan Gavagni Recognized as Jim Stevenson Resource Manager of the Year 

Dylan Gavagni at a Prescribed Burn

2020 Jim Stevenson Resource Manager of the Year Dylan Gavagni.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announces the recognition of Dylan Gavagni, former manager of St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park, as a recipient of the 2020 Jim Stevenson Resource Manager of the Year Award. Gavagni, who served with the Florida Park Service for over 20 years and worked at seven different Florida state parks, is commended for his stewardship of state lands and dedication to land management.

“Managing our natural resources is vital to protecting and conserving Florida for future generations,” said DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “Dylan is a true professional who goes above and beyond and sets the standard for other park and land managers, not only in Florida but across the nation.”

As park manager at St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park, Gavagni managed 21,629 acres in one of the most diverse conservation areas in the state. The park encompasses 22 distinct natural communities, supports 509 plant and 275 animal species, and includes 8 miles of riverfront that provides critical water quality protection for the St. Sebastian River and Indian River Lagoon.

“Dylan is an example of everything it means to be a resource manager,” said Florida State Parks Director Chuck Hatcher. “His dedication, understanding and professionalism have earned him the respect of both his peers and the community surrounding St. Sebastian River Preserve.”

Prescribed fire is one of the Florida Park Service’s most effective land management tools, and St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park's sea breezes and historic land use present unique challenges to implementing a successful fire management program. Despite those challenges, Gavagni increased the park's annual prescribed fire acreage by more than 62%.

Throughout his Florida Park Service career, Gavagni was among the most productive burners in the state, participating in 380 burns encompassing more than 109,000 acres. Gavagni had a major influence on the trajectory and success of the entire statewide fire program and helped shaped the program into what it is today.

Gavagni now serves with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s natural heritage program.

Florida’s Resource Manager of the Year award is named for James A. Stevenson, who led the state's ecosystem management, prescribed burning, non-native plant control and springs protection during his long career with DEP’s Florida Park Service and Division of State Lands. 

Each year, land managers from DEP, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Florida Forest Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are selected for this award, which is one of Florida’s highest environmental honors. The other award recipients are Sam Negaran with the Florida Forest Service and Matt Vance with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.