The heart of Florida is not a theme park, a palatial shopping mall, a beach lined with sprawling resorts, or a designer golf course. You find Florida’s heart in its nature parks and conservation lands.
Picture windswept dunes and sun-kissed beaches, clear springs that make you feel like you’re flying, not swimming, Florida Scrub-Jays in their rare scrub habitat, perched high and dry along Florida’s ancient backbone, moist and mysterious oak hammocks where time seems to stand still, and sprawling marshes of sawgrass, mangrove islands, and of course, the famed River of Grass.
We are fortunate that our predecessors had the foresight to set aside many of these special places through programs like Florida Forever, Preservation 2000, and municipal environmental lands programs.
State forests, wildlife management areas,water management district lands, and local conservation areas, combined with our award winning system of 171 state parks and trails, help make up the remarkable and accessible habitat mosaic of natural Florida.
Yet while the benefits are well understood, Florida’s parks have never been under greater threat. This issue of the Audubon Florida Naturalist Magazine is a celebration of these special places and a call to action for citizens to defend their parks.