FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2007
Contact: Don Finefrock
South Florida National Parks Trust Approves
worth $160,000 for South Floridaís National Parks
The South Florida National Parks Trust has approved $160,000 in grant funding for four national parks in South Florida, the chairman of the Trust announced this week.
The grant awards will support coral reef restoration in Biscayne National Park, educational programs at Dry Tortugas National Park, and the development of a new “greenway” linking Everglades and Biscayne National Parks with a bike path in South Miami-Dade County.
The grants will pay for visitor exhibits at Big Cypress National Preserve, Junior Ranger guide books for South Florida and the publication of an Everglades National Park brochure in Spanish.
“South Florida’s national parks belong to all of us,” said Trust Chairman Carlos Arazoza. “These grants will give more people – especially children – an opportunity to explore these parks and learn about the history of South Florida and the natural world that surrounds us.”
The Trust approved the grants at its annual meeting on September 28. Since its inception in 2002, the Trust has provided more than $1 million in direct support to its four partner parks – Everglades, Biscayne and Dry Tortugas National Parks and Big Cypress National Preserve.
The latest grant projects approved by the Trust include:
Coral Reef Nurseries at Biscayne National Park ($25,000) -- Biscayne National Park will hire a graduate student to work with park staff and volunteers to locate and salvage coral fragments for cultivation in the park’s coral reef nurseries. The park established the underwater nurseries to grow coral for reef repair. The grant also will pay for needed equipment and supplies.
This grant will be funded with a community service payment from Carib Sea Inc., made as part of a plea agreement negotiated by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida in a criminal case involving the illegal importation of 42,000 pounds of protected coral rock from Haiti.
Big Cypress Welcome Center ($25,000) -- Big Cypress National Preserve is seeking to raise $400,000 to purchase exhibits for the new visitor center it plans to build on Tamiami Trail near State Road 29. Construction of the $2.1 million facility is scheduled to begin early next year and take approximately one year. Funding for construction is in hand, but the preserves lacks the money needed for exhibits. The Trust is contributing $25,000 in seed money for this project.
Eco-Discovery Center in Key West ($26,592) -- Dry Tortugas National Park will hire a student intern for one year to work at the Eco-Discovery Center in Key West. The student will staff the visitor center, provide educational programming to school groups and help arrange educational trips to the park.
Park Brochure in Spanish ($18,000) -- Everglades National Park will produce 25,000 copies of the park’s popular brochure and map in Spanish in an effort to increase outreach to Hispanic visitors. Park staff will work with exhibit planners from the National Park Service on the project. The park installed 10 bilingual wayside exhibits last year along the main park road to Flamingo with money provided by the Trust.
Biscayne-Everglades Greenway ($10,000) -- Everglades National Park will install 10 signs at key points along the greenway, the proposed pathway for pedestrians and bicyclists that will link Biscayne and Everglades National Parks with Homestead and Florida City. The first stretches of the 42-mile greenway are expected to open next year.
Junior Ranger Program in South Florida ($10,000) -- The National Park Service will print additional copies of the popular Junior Ranger guide book that introduces children and their families to South Florida’s national parks. The free guide books challenge children to learn about the habitat and wildlife of the park they are visiting. This grant is being funded with contributions from the Ocean Reef Rod & Gun Club and the Ocean Reef Foundation.
Everglades Podcast Program ( $11,000) -- Everglades National Park will produce a series of podcasts about the park that can be downloaded from the NPS web site. The budget includes money to hire an intern for six months to launch the program and additional money for supplies.
RV Pad for Gulf Coast Volunteers ($6,431) -- Everglades National Park will create a permanent RV pad for volunteers in the Gulf Coast district. The RV pad will allow the park to expand its volunteer ranks by providing housing for full-time seasonal and year-round volunteers.
2008 March for Parks ($2,950) -- The annual March for Parks event that has introduced thousands of inner city children to South Florida’s national parks will be held at Biscayne National Park on March 30, 2008. Grant funding will pay for bus transportation to the park and boat tours. The event is organized in conjunction with South Florida Community Partners.
Biscayne Volunteer-in-Parks Program ($24,950) -- Biscayne National Park will hire a seasonal ranger for six months to help build the park’s successful Alternative Spring Break program through the recruitment of new students from local colleges and universities. The grant also will pay for transportation costs (boat fuel and maintenance), recruitment materials and the removal of beach debris (a popular volunteer activity).
The South Florida National Parks Trust was established in 2002 by the National Park Foundation to improve the quality of life in South Florida by supporting the region’s national parks.