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Happy New Year!

A Special New Year Resolution Just For You – and one that you will enjoy keeping all year-long!

Happy New Year to everybody and let’s all make it a very special year. My new year’s resolution is to visit as many of Florida’s award-winning state parks that I can in 2015 – and to continue to support them in any way that I can.

With 171 state parks and trails it will be a challenge to visit them all but as every park is different and each one has something special to offer I plan to get to as many as I can. Why not do the same?

If you have a favorite park, why not offer to volunteer there. Park volunteers are a great bunch and help is always needed and much appreciated. Whether you have special skills to offer or just want to meet and greet visitors, your volunteering hours is what helps make Florida’s parks the best in the nation.  After all, no other state park system has won the national Gold medal for Excellence as we have done. And, all volunteers will tell you that they get so much satisfaction – and fun – from the time they spend in the park. Last year, Florida park volunteers put in an amazing 1.4 million hours of service. Just think how much more could be done if we had more volunteers.

If you have not visited many of our wonderful state parks, get out there and explore. The parks offers beaches and pristine rivers, hiking and off-road cycling, archaeological and historical sites, re-enactments and educational and environmental programs and, of course, spectacular habitats and wildlife. Florida’s parks are not only the ‘real Florida’ they are your parks. Get out and enjoy them.

Another great way of supporting the parks is to become a member of Friends of Florida State Parks. We work will all the parks and their Friends volunteer groups. We offer grants to them to enable a wide range of products that might not otherwise be done because of budget constraints. These projects vary from new interpretive centers to ADA accessible walkways and new trails to repairs and maintenance. All membership fees and donations go in one way or another to supporting our state parks.

So as we start a New Year, let’s make a resolution to do more to help, protect and preserve our wonderful state parks. Whether you increase your visits, become a volunteer or join Friends pledge to do something in 2015 – every little helps. And, unlike most New Year resolutions this is one that you should be able to keep – and thoroughly enjoy .

Thank you for your continued support.

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