September 2018 – The South Florida National Parks Trust has approved $777,289 in new grants for South Florida’s national parks. The funding will support park programs and projects in five critical areas: environmental education for local school children, habitat restoration and wildlife conservation, volunteer activities, ranger programs for the public, and community engagement.
A complete list of new grants is included below:
Big Cypress National Preserve
SWAMP Science Education Programs $50,000
Habitat Restoration for Wood Storks $70,000
Kirby Storter Boardwalk Renovations $50,000
Fire Management / Controlled Burns $50,000
Welcome Center Landscaping $37,000
At its meeting on September 28, the SFNPT board approved grants for the preserve’s top five funding priorities this year including 1) ranger-led SWAMP education programs for 6th grade students in Big Cypress; 2) a restoration project to create nesting habitat for endangered wood storks; 3) renovation of the popular Kirby Storter boardwalk; 4) fire management through controlled burns; and 5) new landscaping for the Big Cypress Welcome Center.
Biscayne National Park
Environmental Education Programs $100,000
Marine Stewardship $50,000
Enhanced Marine Patrols $85,000
Mooring Buoys $55,000
New grants for Biscayne will support 1) class field trips and overnight camping programs in the park for local school kids; 2) volunteer cleanups to remove debris from park beaches in advance of turtle nesting season; 3) a full-time law enforcement ranger to enhance parkl patrols; and 4) installation of new mooring buoys at 38 sites to aid boaters and protect coral. In addition to these grants, the park is seeking $170,000 in new funding next year to stabilize and restore the Boca Chita Lighthouse.
Dry Tortugas National Park
Marine Debris Removal $18,000
Sea Turtle Conservation $32,000
Nurse Shark Research $21,000
In Park Education Programs $15,000
New grants for Dry Tortugas will support 1) three staff / volunteer cleanups to remove derelict traps and debris from reefs and beaches in the park; 2) two student interns to monitor sea turtle nesting and hatching success; 3) research on breeding nurse sharks in park waters; 4) ranger-led education programs for middle school, high school and college students in the park.
Everglades National Park
BioCorps Internship Program $26,000
Florida Bay LE Rangers $50,000
Nekton Assessment $52,289
Nike Missile Intern $6,000
Gulf Coast Boat Motor $10,000
New grants for Everglades will fund 1) two student interns to work alongside park scientists; 2) two Florida Bay rangers to enhance law enforcement on Florida Bay; 3) the first year of a proposed 5-year assessment of fish populations in park waters; 4) a Nike Missile volunteer coordinator to organize and lead public tours of the historic site; and 5) a new boat motor for the park’s Gulf Coast maintenance barge damaged by Hurricane Irma in September 2017.
The SFNPT is the official nonprofit of the National Park Service in South Florida, established in 2002 to support four national parks – Everglades, Biscayne and Dry Tortugas National Parks and Big Cypress National Preserve – through fund-raising and community engagement.
Since its inception the SFNPT has provided more than $7 million in direct grants to South Florida’s four national parks to support outdoor environmental education programs for local school children, resource protection projects that restore habitat and protect wildlife, visitor services including ranger programs for the public, volunteer activities and community outreach.