Free Florida state parks mobile app

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Park Service has developed a new, free Smartphone app, available for download. This interactive guide gives users on-the-go access to Florida’s 171 state parks, trails and historic sites, complete with detailed information about campgrounds, amenities, facility maps, directions and so much more.

In honor of the new app, Florida’s state parks will offer free entry to state parks on Monday, Feb. 18 to visitors who show the app downloaded on their mobile device at the ranger station. Visitors are encouraged to download the app this week and plan a visit to their favorite state park or a state park they discovered by using the new app.

The app allows visitors to plan that perfect outdoor trip by searching for a park by GPS location or activity to find nearby locations to enjoy hiking, camping, boating, birding and more. Once there, advanced GPS and GIS mapping technology allows visitors to track and record trails, mark waypoints and locate friends within the park. There is even an option to cache GPS maps in advance to ensure that navigation remains possible in the event of lost mobile reception.

“This is an exciting new feature that will increase public access to DEP’s award-winning park system,” said DEP Secretary Vinyard. “Being able to plan your trip to one of our parks, trails or historic sites from your phone makes experiencing Florida’s natural, cultural and historical resources easier.”

The apps provide plenty of other features to maximize visitors’ outdoor adventure including educational information, amenities, maps and directions; a real-time calendar of events; advisories, and weather alerts and built-in compass.

New features such as GeoChallenge games and a photo share option will be added in the coming months. Follow FLStateParks on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.

The Florida State Parks Pocket Ranger® app is available now on iTunes and Android Market by searching “Official Florida State Parks” and is identified under ParksByNature Network. It is also available on and is formatted as a Mobile Website:

The Florida Park Service partnered with ParksByNature Network™ and to create this app free for the public. For a tutorial on how to use the app, please visit It is recommended to use Wi-Fi or a strong wireless connection when downloading the app.

To receive free entry, please show the ranger station or staff at the park entrance booth the app downloaded on your mobile device. Mobile App Free Entry offer is available on Monday, Feb. 18, 2013 only.


FWC Sets 2013 License Free Days

 The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has announced its 2013 license-free days for recreational fishing. Salt water dates are June 1st and September 1st and freshwater dates are April 6rth and June 8th.


Fishing regulations guide available

The newest saltwater fishing publication from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the January – June 2013 Florida Saltwater Recreational Fishing Regulations booklets are now available. The new edition has a photo of the invasive lionfish on the cover and features an article requesting public assistance removing these fish from Florida’s waters. It also includes information on upcoming regulation changes for giant anemone, unicorn filefish and Atlantic black sea bass. You can also review the new maps detailing special management zones within the Gulf and Atlantic for redfish and spotted sea trout.


Gag grouper and trigger seasons set


The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has announced that state gray triggerfish regulations will be consistent with pending federal regulations including: a closed recreational season from June 1– July 31 with a two-fish daily recreational bag limit.

The commercial regulations include: a closed commercial harvest season of June 1st – July 31st and a 12-fish trip limit. Fishermen must have a federal reef fish permit to fish in state waters; and commercial fishermen need to follow federal guidelines even in state waters.

The FWC has announced the dates for the 2013 recreational gag grouper season in state waters.

State waters of Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor Counties, including Indian Pass, Apalachicola Bay and Steinhatchee River will be open April 1 - June 30 and closed July 1 – December 3.

The rest of the Gulf Counties will be open June 1 – December 3.


Record year for St. Vincent sea turtles


According to the Supporters of St. Vincent newsletter, sea turtles created a record number of nests on St. Vincent Island this year but most were lost to storms.

According to the St. Vincent News, sea turtles produced 103 nests on St. Vincent Island this year, a record high.

There were also 112 false crawls where a turtle came ashore but did not lay eggs.

Sadly 85 of the nests were washed over by storms and 65 lost all of their eggs.

There was no predation by raccoons or hogs reported but ghost crabs attacked 18 nests.

Only 24 nests produced hatchlings.

The earliest recorded nest was reported on May 8 and the latest eggs were deposited on August 7.

Approximately 1,630 hatchlings were produced last year.



Sambar deer hunt harvests 12


The first two hunts of the season on St. Vincent Island were held on Nov. 15-17 and Nov. 29-Dec. 1.

The early hunt was for white tail deer. Almost 60 hunters harvested 21 white-tailed deer, 16 does and five bucks.

The largest white tail taken was a two point buck that dressed out at 70 pounds. The second hunt was for Sambar deer, a large Eurasian elk introduced to the island by private owners around the turn of the century.

Twelve Sambar, eight stags and four hinds, were taken. They ranged in weight from 191 to 368 pounds. Last year set a record for Sambar harvested since the hunt began in1986. In an average year, between three and four Sambar are harvested.

Ten feral hogs were also taken during the two hunts, one boar and nine sows. The dressed weight ranged from 30 to 103 pounds. 

No raccoons were taken this hunt season.

Only 200 permits to hunt Sambar are issued each year.  Hunters are chosen by lottery. Brochures are available in May. It costs $5 to apply and $25 once the permit is issued. Unclaimed permits are sold on a first come-first served basis in August.  St. Vincent permits are non-transferrable.

Only bows and primitive weapons are permitted during the hunts.

The largest Sambar ever harvested on the island was742 pound, ten point buck taken in 1991.

The largest white-tail was a 161 pound, ten-point buck taken in 2009.

The largest feral hog harvested was 332 pounds taken in 1998.

Thanks to the supporters of St. Vincent for some information included in this brief.