Celebrate state parks on National Public Lands Day

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Florida Park Service and the Friends of Florida State Parks will celebrate the 20th anniversary of National Public Lands Day on Saturday, Sept. 28. As proclaimed by Governor Rick Scott, residents are invited to volunteer and participate in a variety of activities planned at more than 70 of Florida's award-winning state parks.

In coordination with the National Environmental Education Foundation, National Public Lands Day invites volunteers to join ranks and improve the publicly owned lands where our state parks provide recreation, outdoor education and relaxation. For the past 20 years, this day has provided an opportunity for citizens of all ages to help preserve the lands of this nation.

“It is such a joy to take part in National Public Lands Day. It is a wonderful chance for the residents and visitors of Florida to engage in restoring and preserving our public lands,” said Donald Forgione, director of the Florida Park Service, "It is also great to partner with the Friends of Florida State Parks and the 84 Friends groups around the state who are helping to coordinate this effort."

By contributing time in one of Florida’s many state parks, volunteers can restore Florida in many different ways. More than 70 events offered throughout the state provide the chance to remove trash and invasive plants, pick up litter surrounding the parks and plant trees and other foliage along the trails. In addition, demonstrations, exhibits, activities and complimentary snacks will be provided at various events.

Activities nearby include a cleanup along the bay shore at Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park, 9 a.m. to noon. and a nature trail clean up, native animal exhibit and cave clean up at Florida Caverns State Park, in Marianna, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.



FWC passes rule prohibiting deer imports

At its Pensacola commission meeting Sept. 6, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission passed a rule prohibiting the importation of live captive deer into Florida from out-of-state sources. The rule was passed in an effort to reduce the chances of chronic wasting disease (CWD) being introduced into the state. Eighteen other states, including Georgia and Alabama, also prohibit the importation of live cervids, such as deer, elk and moose.

CWD is not known to affect people but is a contagious neurological disease affecting cervids. It is always fatal, and there is no known cure or vaccine. So far, the disease has been discovered in 22 states, two Canadian provinces and in South Korea.

To implement the decision immediately, the FWC also issued an executive order prohibiting importation of cervids effective, Sept. 6. The order includes limited exemptions for reindeer and zoos.


FWC exempts disabled vets, military personnel

The FWC has implemented a new recreational hunting and fishing license exemption for disabled veterans, active and reserve duty military personnel, immediate family members of these veterans and military personnel and assistants during special events designed for the enjoyment or rehabilitation of participating military personnel and disabled veterans.

“Our disabled veterans and military have given so much to us that we wanted to give something to them, by allowing them to participate in fishing or hunting events without having to buy a license and/or permit,” Chairman Richard Corbett said.

Event organizers apply for the permit to exempt their qualifying participants.

To qualify, special events must be designed to provide rehabilitation or enjoyment to participating disabled veterans or active or reserve duty military personnel in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, U.S. Coast Guard or Florida National Guard. Immediate family members (parents, spouses and children) of participating disabled veterans and military personnel and one designated assistant for each disabled veteran are included in each event’s license and permit exemptions.

Exemptions will last for the duration of the events. FWC regional directors, as the executive director’s designee, will issue these permits. Established seasons, bag or slot limits, size restrictions and all other laws will still apply. Limited-entry activities won’t be permitted under this exemption.