Let’s face it, Florida State Parks were hit hard by Hurricane Irma. All 168 State Parks shut down when the stormed raged through the state in September; and although some parks escaped damage all together, others weren’t so lucky. Sadly, Bahia Honda, Indian Key and Long Key State Parks sustained the brunt of the damage in the Florida Keys.
The goods news is that the damage will be repaired; however it comes at a price. A big price. The powers that be estimate that it could take up to $20 million to perform the needed repairs. Unfortunately that money has to come from somewhere; and in this case it will probably come from delaying other projects slated to be undertaken this year – including many ADA upgrades.
I understand that choices have to be made when you have a shortfall, and I get that the folks in Florida are doing what they have to do to make the best of a bad situation. I also have to add that I know they are committed to improving access at the parks. Still, it’s not exactly an ideal solution.
So in the spirit of giving this holiday season, I’m asking you all to reach out and help out the Friends of Florida State Parks in their “Access for All Campaign”. It really has nothing to do with the hurricane damage, but instead focuses on a wish list of access improvements for the state parks.
Their wish list includes an accessible kayak launch with transfer steps for Manatee Springs and Fanning Springs State Parks, a ramped golf cart for Rainbow Springs and Stephen Foster State Parks, a beach cruiser power wheelchair for Hugh Taylor Birch State Park and an all terrain power wheelchair for Jonathan Dickinson State Park. And the good news is, they’ve already raised enough to purchase a floating beach wheelchair for Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. So cruise on over to friendsoffloridastateparks.org/FFSP-Access-for-All-Campaign/ and give them a hand with their fund-raising efforts!
Alternatively you can designate that your donation be used for Hurricane Irma disaster relief, which in turn may help other access improvements move forward in a timely manner. Whatever you give, 100% of your donation goes directly to the parks. So spread some holiday cheer this season, and help out our friends in Florida!