Inadequate funding could have devastating impact on both economic returns and the environment

TALLAHASSEE, FL, March 27, 2019 /24-7PressRelease/ — The Florida State Parks Foundation today urged legislators to fully fund Governor DeSantis’ 2020 budget request for Florida’s award-winning state parks.

At a press conference in Tallahassee, Foundation CEO Julia Gill Woodward said, “It is imperative that the Florida Park Service receives adequate funding to ensure that our state parks continue to be the best that they can be.”

“When you compare the $54 million that has been requested with the $2.4 billion in economic impact that the state parks generated last year, it is hard to think of any other example that is a better return on the investment,” she said.

Governor DeSantis’ FY20 budget request includes $54 million for fixed capital and land management and an additional $100 million for Florida Forever.

Currently, both the Senate and House have indicated that their Florida Park Service allocations will fall short of the requested amount.

“The system of Florida State Parks and Trails is one of the state’s greatest success stories. They contribute mightily to the state’s tourism industry while preserving many of the jewels of our natural environments and Florida’s significant historical and cultural sites,” said President Elect Gil Ziffer.

“State parks and trails located in small towns and rural areas are sometimes the only economic driver in the community. Visitors coming to these parks spend dollars for lodging and in restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, bait shops, etc. If not for state park operations these businesses might not otherwise exist,” he added.

Last year, despite the impact of Hurricane Michael, state parks and trails served more than 28 million visitors generating $2.4 billion in direct economic impact to local communities statewide creating more than 33,000 jobs as a result of state park operations. In addition, over $158 million was raised in the form of state sales tax.

“If our state parks are not adequately funded, aging infrastructure cannot be replaced, urgent repairs cannot be made and the park experience for our millions of visitors will be diminished. This will have a devastating impact on both economic returns and the environment,” said Ziffer.

The Foundation, working with the Florida Park Service, supports the work of Florida’s award-winning 175 state parks’ staff, local Friends groups and the 14,500 volunteers who donate 1.2 million hours of their time every year working in them.

For the original version of this press release, please visit here