South Florida National Parks Trust

News & Events

Big Cypress 40th Anniversary Celebration

Posted November 2014

The Big Cypress National Preserve turns 40 this year and the SFNPT and the National Park Service are celebrating with back-to-back events on December 5 and 6, 2014.

The celebration begins Friday December 5 at the Big Cypress Birthday Bash in Naples with live music and dancing to the JJ McCoy Band from 7 to 10 PM on the grounds of the Collier County Museum, 3331 Tamiami Trail East. Tickets are $75 per person (cash bar) and $125 (open bar). Event proceeds benefit the Swamp Water and Me Program (SWAMP), an environmental education program for 6th-grade science student in Big Cypress National Preserve. For tickets, go to: https://big40birthdaybash.eventbrite.com

The celebration continues Saturday December 6 from 10 AM to 4 PM at the 4th annual Swamp Heritage Festival in Big Cypress National Preserve with storytellers, musicians, authors, artists and more! For more information, go to http://www.nps.gov/bicy/planyourvisit/swampheritagefestival.htm, or contact the National Park Service at 239-695-4768.

All tickets for the Big Cypress Birthday Bash include a 2015 Clyde Butcher calendar (retail value $20). The first 100 ticket buyers also will receive a free DVD copy of the acclaimed nature documentary Big Cypress Swamp: The Western Everglades by filmmaker Elam Stoltzfus. Calendars and DVDs will be available for pickup on Saturday at the Swamp Heritage Festival. Clyde & Niki Butcher are scheduled to attend both events and Clyde will be available on Saturday to sign his 2015 calendar.

About Big Cypress: Congress established the Big Cypress National Preserve in 1974 as the first national preserve in the nation, a distinction that allowed traditional activities such as hunting to continue. The Big Cypress National Preserve today represents one of the last wild places in Southwest Florida where swamp buggies and airboats, backcountry camps and chickees preserve a traditional way of life established by native peoples and early settlers. The Birthday Bash and Swamp Heritage Festival celebrate the history and culture of Big Cypress and the historic forces that united conservationists, sportsmen, environmentalists and native peoples in the late 1960s in a successful effort to protect a place and a way of life threatened by urban development.

Download flyer (.pdf) by clicking here.

New Grants for South Florida's National Parks

Posted October 2014

The South Florida National Parks Trust has approved $190,000 in new grant funding for South Florida's national parks for the fiscal year that begins October 1, 2014. The new funding will create native habitat on an island in Biscayne Bay, restore the flow of fresh water in the Turner River, protect nesting sea turtles in the Dry Tortugas and support ongoing visitor and volunteer programs in Everglades National Park. The new grants approved by the SFNPT board include:

  • $26,200 to restore a spoil island in Biscayne National Park with native vegetation. Park volunteers will replace exotic vegetation with a mangrove wetland and hardwood hammock on an island south of Black Point Marina.
  • $25,000 in second-year funding for a Turner River restoration project that will restore the flow of fresh water into one of the most scenic and popular paddling spots in South Florida. The SFNPT provided $35,000 for this project in 2013.
  • $23,200 to establish a water-sampling program in Biscayne National Park that will serve as an early warning / rapid response system for algal blooms in park waters. Early detection will aid park efforts to understand and prevent algal blooms in the future.
  • $25,400 to fund two BioCorps interns in Everglades National Park in 2015 to work alongside park scientists to control invasive species and protect native wildlife. The park launched the BioCorps Program in 2014 to address emerging issues in the park.
  • $15,200 to monitor sea turtle nesting activity on remote beaches in Dry Tortugas National Park during the busy summer nesting season.
  • $33,535 to promote better stewardship of Florida Bay in Everglades National Park through community outreach, education and enhanced law enforcement on the water.
  • $6,700 to support the 4th annual Swamp Heritage Festival, a celebration of the history and culture of the Big Cypress on Saturday December 6. The Big Cypress National Preserve the nation's first national preserve is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
  • $4,800 to support a new season of public tours at the historic Nike Missile Site in Everglades National Park.
  • $5,000 to hire a staff assistant for the volunteer program in Everglades National Park. The volunteer assistant will organize and lead volunteer projects throughout the park.
  • $15,000 to promote safe boating and sustainable fishing in Biscayne National Park through a series of free classes in English and Spanish for the public and for boaters and fishermen who are ticketed in the park.

In addition to these projects, the SFNPT approved four other grants to support public programs and projects in South Florida's national parks, including:

  • A fishing clinic and paddling program for underserved youth at the Gulf Coast Visitor Center in Everglades National Park, organized with the Boys and Girls Club.
  • A climate change exhibit that will open in Biscayne National Park in December 2014 and then travel to other national parks around the country during the next two years.
  • Two citizenship ceremonies in Biscayne National Park. One hundred new citizens will take the oath of citizenship while overlooking Biscayne Bay, in a national park owned by all Americans including them!
  • The Camping Adventure with My Parents (CAMP) program, a ranger-guided camping program that introduces local families from underserved communities to the Everglades.

The South Florida National Parks Trust was established in 2002 to support South Florida's national parks Everglades, Biscayne and Dry Tortugas National Parks and Big Cypress National Preserve through fund-raising and community outreach. Since its inception the SFNPT has provided more than $5 million in direct support to South Florida's four national parks to support projects and programs in five areas: environmental education, resource protection, visitor services, volunteer activities and community outreach.

Summer Tracks: Looking for Turtle Nests in Biscayne National Park

Posted July 2014

The summer nesting season for sea turtles has begun! Endangered and threatened sea turtles are coming ashore in Biscayne National Park to lay their eggs and park biologists are scrambling to find those nests before raccoons can raid them. Finding turtle nests can be a challenge, even for trained observers. Like detectives at the scene of a crime, park biologists look for clues in the sand to determine whether a turtle came ashore overnight to nest on park beaches. Turtle tracks often tell the story, but not always. The park had documented 12 nests as of July and another 10 false crawls - areas of disturbed sand where turtles came ashore but did not nest. After finding a nest, biologists dig to determine the exact location of the eggs. They then place a mesh screen over the eggs to protect them from raccoons. The screen is removed shortly before the nest hatches so baby turtles can crawl free and reach the water. The biologists who monitor turtle nesting in the park are getting some help this year from two UM graduate students and the SFNPT. The SFNPT board, meeting in July, approved a $6,500 grant to support the park's turtle program. The funding will allow the park to operate daily beach patrols, improving the chances of success this year for turtle nests in the park.

Assignment Everglades: A Wilderness Adventure for Student Writers

Posted July 2014

Did you know: Everglades National Park protects the largest designated wilderness area east of the Mississippi River? Named for Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the Everglades wilderness covers 1.3 million acres, roughly 86% of the entire park! By definition, federal wilderness areas are places where "the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain." Douglas, of course, is known for writing "The Everglades: River of Grass." What better tribute, then, than to give local students - aspiring journalists, poets and authors - an opportunity to explore the Everglades and write about it? Ten college students will have that chance in 2014, thanks to a partnership involving the park, the SFNPT local universities and other groups. The project is being funded with a Wilderness Writing grant from the National Park Foundation. National Park rangers will lead the students on several wilderness adventures and then invite them to write about the experience. The students' work will be published in the South Dade News Leader and featured at several public events. The project celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, passed by Congress and signed into law in 1964. Watch this space for updates as the project gets rolling!

The Miami Foundation funds Everglades Field Trips for 4,000 School Kids

Posted: July 2014

The Miami Foundation has awarded SFNPT and Everglades National Park a $15,000 grant to bring 4,000 school kids to the park next school year for curriculum-based environmental education programs. The 4th-grade students will ride an open-air tram into the heart of the Everglades to see alligators and wood storks in the wild, climb a 60-foot observation tower and hike into a hardwood hammock with a National Park Service ranger during a 4-hour field trip to the park. SFNPT was one of 73 nonprofit organizations chosen by the foundation to share $1.2 million in community grants for innovative programs that make Miami a better place to live. The SFNPT thanks The Miami Foundation for supporting a program that introduces thousands of local school kids to one of the world's most amazing ecosystems - the Everglades!

New Acting Superintendent Named for Everglades National Park

Posted: July 2014

Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks have a new acting superintendent. Bob Krumenaker, superintendent of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin, takes over the top job at Everglades and Dry Tortugas, effective August 4, while the search continues for a permanent superintendent. Former superintendent Dan Kimball retired in March.