South Florida National Parks Trust

News & Events

Wells Fargo Awards Earth Day Grant for Everglades Education

Wells Fargo & Company has awarded a $10,000 grant to the South Florida National Parks Trust to support environmental education programs in Everglades National Park. The grant was part of the more than $250,000 Wells Fargo awarded in environmental grants across Florida in celebration of Earth Day (April 22, 2011). The Wells Fargo grant will bring 2,225 additional public school students and teachers from Title I schools in South Florida to Everglades National Park during the 2011-2012 school year to participate in day programs and overnight camping trips in the park.

Paintings by Everglades Artist Sam Vinikoff

Everglades artist Sam Vinikoff died in October 2010 at the age of 91 after a long career spent capturing the natural beauty of South Florida on canvas. In recognition of the artist’s passion for the Everglades, the Vinikoff family donated a collection of his paintings to the South Florida National Parks Trust to raise money for Everglades National Park. The donated works, including iconic Everglades scenes with Roseate Spoonbills and Swallow-tailed Kites, are available for purchase through the Trust, with proceeds earmarked for the park. To see images of the artwork, click here. For more information, contact info@southfloridaparks.org

SFNPT Announces New Grants For South Florida’s National Parks

The South Florida National Parks Trust has approved $95,000 in new grant funding for two environmental restoration projects and a boater education program in South Florida’s national parks. Trustees of the SFNPT approved three new grants in March 2011 during a quarterly board meeting in Biscayne National Park. The new grants include:

  • $40,000 to remove approximately 450 abandoned crab and lobster traps and other debris in Biscayne National Park that damages the park’s coral reefs by crushing, breaking and smothering coral and other organisms.
  • $35,000 to fund at least four sea grass restoration projects in Florida Bay at grounding sites in Everglades National Park. The funding will make it easier for volunteer groups to undertake sea grass restoration projects in the park.
  • $20,000 to develop a state-of-the-art boater education program in Florida Bay and other marine waters of Everglades National Park.

Four Trustees Join the Board of the South Florida National Parks Trust

Four new trustees have joined the board of the South Florida National Parks Trust, including:

Crystal M. Connor is president of The Connor Group Miami and a former associate at the law firms of Tew Cardenas and Becker & Poliakoff in South Florida. She has served as interim city manager for the Village of El Portal, chief of staff to Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jimmy Morales and general counsel to the Black Economic Development Corporation. Ms. Connor is an alumnus of the Miami Fellows Initiative, a leadership development program of the Miami Foundation; she is a graduate of Temple University and the William Mitchell College of Law.

Carlos Espinosa is director of the Miami-Dade County Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM). He joined DERM in 1985 as Chief of the Water Management Division and was appointed Director in December 2006 to oversee a department that regulates and manages activities impacting natural resources in the county. Mr. Espinosa is a licensed professional engineer and certified general contractor. He graduated with honors from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Miami.

Corinne Guerra is director of marketing and communications at Summit Group Properties, a real estate management company in Coral Gables. Ms. Guerra graduated from Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart and the University of Miami, where she received a BSC in Public Relations and Psychology. She is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Public Relations from the University of Miami. Ms. Guerra is also a member of the Junior League of Miami.

Jimmy L. Morales is an attorney in the land use, environment and government affairs department at Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff Sitterson P.A. in Miami, and also serves on the Firm’s Board of Directors.  Among his clients, he serves as City Attorney for the City of Doral and Special Counsel for the City of Miami Gardens. Mr. Morales was elected to the Miami-Dade County Commission in 1996 and served two terms before resigning to run for county mayor in 2004. He is active in the South Florida community through such organizations as the DadeFund, the American Red Cross, the WLRN Citizen’s Advisory Board and Autism Speaks. He is the recipient of the Bill Colson Colson Leadership Award from the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, the McClaskey Leadership Award from the Guardianship Program of Dade County and the Ambassador of the Arts medal from the Dade Cultural Alliance. He is a graduate of Miami Beach Senior High School, Harvard University and Harvard Law School.

Dry Tortugas

Dry Tortugas 75th Anniversary Celebration

Dry Tortugas National Park is celebrating its 75th anniversary in Key West this fall with a series of free lectures and two special events in November – a cocktail reception on Friday November 5 and a special outing to the park on Saturday November 6.

One of the nation’s most remote (and spectacular) national parks, Dry Tortugas National Parks is located 70 miles west of Key West amid a cluster of small islands named for their abundant marine life (tortugas, or turtles) and lack of fresh water. Along with the surrounding shoals and waters, these seven islands make up Dry Tortugas National Park.

The park is known for its abundant bird and marine life, its legends of pirates and sunken gold, and its military past. First established in 1935 as Fort Jefferson National Monument (in honor of the massive 19th century brick fort that sits on Garden Key) the park was expanded and renamed Dry Tortugas National Park in 1992.

Here’s a line up of events celebrating the park’s 75th anniversary:

Cocktail Reception and Buffet Supper
Friday November 5 from 6 to 9 PM
Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center
35 East Quay Road in Key West
Tickets: $75 per person

Join the South Florida National Parks Trust and our partners at the National Park Service for a cocktail reception and buffet supper to mark the 75th anniversary of Dry Tortugas National Park. Net proceeds benefit the Trust’s work to protect, promote and enhance Dry Tortugas National Park.

VIP Outing to Dry Tortugas National Park
Saturday November 6 from 8 AM to 5 PM
Leaving from the Yankee Freedom dock in downtown Key West
Tickets: $125 for adults / $100 children 16 and under

Board the Yankee Freedom in Key West on Saturday morning for a special day of ranger guided programs at Fort Jefferson and Dry Tortugas National Park. Breakfast, lunch and snorkeling gear included.

Lecture Series Celebrates 75 Years of Preserving the Dry Tortugas

Celebrate 75 years of preserving the Dry Tortugas with a free lecture series in Key West through October 19. This special lecture series offers a glimpse of the natural and cultural resources of this unique jewel of the National Park Service. All presentations begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, 35 East Quay Road, Key West.


Tuesday, September 14 – Sea Turtle Nesting in the Dry Tortugas

Kayla Nimmo, Park Biology Technician, will discuss the life history, basic ecology, ecologic and man made threats to the species, and nesting activity of these fascinating sea creatures at the Dry Tortugas.


Wednesday, September 22 – History of the Dry Tortugas

The military history at Fort Jefferson, which includes the Civil and Spanish American Wars, is brought to life by Monroe County historian Tom Hambright.


Tuesday, September 28 – The Dry Tortugas National Park Research Natural Area

Find out from Dave Hallac, Chief of Biological Resources at Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks, what a research natural area is, as well as how the protection of a shallow coral reef located 70 miles from Key West is connected to what happens in Key Largo. Get answers to these questions and more in a short discussion that describes the history of a new marine reserve in Dry Tortugas National Park, the science to study its effectiveness, and its larger role in regional marine conservation.


Tuesday, October 5 – Beneath the Surface:  Archeology of Dry Tortugas National Park

Melissa Memory, Chief of Cultural Resources for Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks, and Dr. Michelle Williams, Director of the Southeast Center of the Florida Public Archaeology Network at Florida Atlantic University, will present an overview of the rich terrestrial and underwater archeological resources in the park, as well as results of the 2009 Public Archeology excavations at Fort Jefferson.


Tuesday, October 12 – Birds of Dry Tortugas: Migrants and Breeders

Everglades National Park Wildlife Biologist Sonny Bass discusses why the Tortugas are a “must-see” for birdwatchers, as well as the importance of the area as a breeding ground for seabirds.


Tuesday, October 19 – Totten Shutter Removal and Fort Stabilization; Past, Present, and Future

Join Dry Tortugas’ Exhibit Specialist Kelly Clark as she presents a brief look at removal of historic Totten Shutters that accelerated the deterioration of Fort Jefferson, an in-depth look at current stabilization work on Fort Jefferson including methods, techniques, and materials, and a brief look forward to the next steps in restoration of this important 19th century masonry fortification. In addition to her presentation, Kelly Clark will also have a photo exhibit on display at the Eco-Discovery Center that features side-by-side photos of the national park unit in 1935 and today.

All lectures are free and open to the public. For information about the Eco-Discovery Center, visit http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/eco_discovery.html or call 305.809.4750.


BioBlitz Comes to Biscayne National Park, April 30–May 1, 2010

The National Park Service and the National Geographic Society have selected Biscayne National Park as the location for the next BioBlitz – a two-day event in which teams of scientists, school children and community volunteers come together to find and learn about as many species as possible in a national park. The event will be held on April 30 and May 1 in the marine park.

BioBlitz will engage more than 100 professional biologists, amateur naturalists and other experts from University of Miami, University of South Florida, Mote Marine Laboratory, Smithsonian Institution, and other institutions. They will be joined by teachers, students and members of the public to form “species inventory teams” to explore the park’s diverse habitats – the mangrove shorelines, the seagrass beds, the barrier islands and coral reefs – in search of local life.

Biscayne National Park and the National Geographic Society are working together to develop lesson plans—field exercises that can be adapted to school yards, citizen science programs, and other year-round materials to prepare students for BioBlitz, extend its value beyond the two-day event, and keep classrooms in contact with the local scientific community long after the BioBlitz itself has ended.

For more information, contact the Trust at 305.665.4769 or at info@southfloridaparks.org or visit the park’s Web site at www.nps.gov/bisc

Endangered world: Biscayne national park
Imagine 360 brightly colored flags lining the roads and trails at Convoy Point, the headquarters of Biscayne National Park in Homestead, FL, each representing one degree of the planet's longitude and an endangered or threatened species that lives there.

Miami artist Xavier Cortada has created art installations around the world to raise awareness about issues like climate change, deforestation and the plight of endangered species. Now, Cortada is working on a brand new project – an outdoor installation of 360 flags at Biscayne National Park entitled Endangered World: Biscayne National Park opening February 14, 2010.

To create the installation, Biscayne National Park and the artist have invited school groups, individuals and organizations to create one of the 360 flags by adopting an endangered or threatened animal that lives at that longtitude. Participants will paint an image of that animal on one of the flags, while committing to an “eco-action” that will help to mitigate the plight of that animal. The eco-actions will be gathered and published in a blog online, and the flags will be on display for a 10-week period leading up to the BioBlitz event that begins April 30.

On May 1, immediately following BioBlitz, participants will be invited to participate in the event's closing ceremonies. The flags will then become a part of an Endangered World traveling exhibit that will go to other national parks around the country.

Endangered World: 80.15
At the same time as the outdoor installation, Xavier Cortada will create drawings of the 17 threatened and endangered species that call Biscayne National Park home. These drawings will be on display in the park's Community Artists Gallery in the Dante Fascell Visitor Center from February 20 through May 2, 2010.

Participants Needed!
Whether you are an artist, a teacher, a business owner, community organizer or a concerned citizen, Endangered World: Biscayne National Park has a spot for you. You can adopt an animal, commit to an eco-action and create a flag either on your own, or by participating in a workshop to be held in a variety of locations in South Florida. For more information on how to participate, go to www.xaviercortada.com


Smart Boating: A new boater education course to protect Florida Bay debuts online at www.ecomariner.org 

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has developed a new boater education course called Eco-Mariner to help boaters navigate the shallow waters of Florida Bay in Everglades National Park. NPCA and its partners launched the free online education program on Earth Day in April. Eco-Mariner is designed to teach boaters how to negotiate the narrow channels and shallow waters of Florida Bay without damaging the bay’s critical habitat, including its seagrass meadows and mud flats. A recent study by Everglades National Park found widespread prop scarring in Florida Bay caused by boat groundings. To take the course online and become an Eco-Mariner, visit www.ecomariner.org


"Butterflies of Everglades National Park" takes wing In January at new Photo Show at Everglades National Park

Butterflies take center stage in January in Everglades National Park with the opening of a photography show organized by the Miami Blue Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association. The show, which is being funded in part with a grant from the South Florida National Parks Trust, can be seen daily from January 1 through 31 at the park’s Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center inside the main park entrance in Homestead (for information, call 305-242-7700).

Join us on Saturday January 10 starting at 1 PM for an opening reception when the Miami Blue Chapter will introduce a new Butterfly List for the park prepared by the chapter and lepidopterist Mark Salvato. Members of the Butterfly Association will be on hand to talk about the native plants that attract butterflies; participating photographers will discuss their work; and the Miami Blue Chapter and the park will present a program on the butterflies of Everglades National Park. The reception is free and open to the public.


5th Annual "Everglades After Dark" Event Brings some Night Life to Shark Valley

The Trust’s annual Everglades After Dark event at Shark Valley on Saturday December 13 attracted a sold-out crowd of 62 people this year for a moonlight tram tour through Everglades National Park. The Shark Valley tram pulled away from the visitor center at 5 PM that night, in plenty of time for participants to see the sun set over the Everglades (photo courtesy of Gema Saiz). The tour stopped at the Observation Tower for a buffet supper and tours to the top of the tower as the moon peaked through cloudy skies above. Special thanks to Park Ranger Maria Thomson and her staff at Shark Valley for hosting the tour, and to the volunteers from the Southern Cross Astronomical Society, who provided telescopes for viewing the night sky.


Biscayne National Park Celebrates a Milestone: 40 years of Marine Stewardship in South Florida

Biscayne National Park celebrated its 40th birthday this fall with a series of events sponsored by the South Florida National Parks Trust, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and the National Park Service. The celebration began on Friday October 17 with a dinner at the Deering Estate to honor eight “park champions” who campaigned to establish the park in the 1960s: Mr. Joe Browder, Mr. Edward Corlett III, the late Congressman Dante Fascell, Ms. Juanita Greene, the late conservationist Herbert W. Hoover Jr., the late Dade County Commissioner Hardy Matheson, Mr. Lloyd Miller and Mr. James Redford. Two hundred people attended the event, which raised $30,000 for park education programs. Gold sponsors of the event included the Herbert W. Hoover Foundation and White & Case LLP; U.S. Century Bank signed on as a silver sponsor. Contributing sponsors included Bacardi USA, Redwood Creek Wines, Miami-Dade County and Miller Calhoun and Company. Click here to see pictures from the event.


South Florida National Parks Trust announces a new round of grants to benefit South Florida’s national parks

The South Florida National Parks Trust has approved 11 new grants totaling $212,000 to support education programs and other projects in South Florida’s national parks during the coming year. The funding includes $50,000 for education programs in Biscayne National Park; $45,000 for education programs in Big Cypress National Preserve; and $20,000 for student transportation to support education programs at Everglades National Park.

The Trust also approved the following grants:

  • $22,000 for the Alternative Spring Break program that puts college students to work in Biscayne National Park each year.
  • $8,000 to support the Volunteer in Parks (VIP) programs at Big Cypress National Preserve.
  • $29,000 for Dry Tortugas National Park and the Eco-Discovery Center in Key West.
  • $25,000 to hire a roving ranger to visit schools, libraries, community centers and events in South Florida.
  • $3,000 to install an interpretive plant walk at Everglades National Park.
  • $3,000 to promote the use of circle hooks by South Florida fisherman who fish park waters.
  • $5,000 for web design at Everglades National Park.
  • $2,500 for the “Butterflies of Everglades National Park” exhibit that will open January 1 at the park’s main visitor center in Homestead.