Florida State Parks win unprecedented fourth NATIONAL GOLD MEDAL

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    Florida State Parks have set an unprecedented record being named a Gold Medal award winner for a fourth time. This makes Florida Parks the first park system in the nation to win a fourth Gold Medal. Their previous Gold Medals were won in 1999, 2005 and 2013. This year’s announcement came Tuesday, September 24 when the National Parks and Recreation Association in partnership with the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration made the announcement.
    For citizens of Jackson and surrounding counties, that comes as no surprise. They have toured caves and spent many hours at Florida Caverns State Park. You don’t have to go far to be at Three Rivers State Park in Sneads and a little further travel will take you to Torreya State Park in Bristol. Travel in the opposite direction to the west and you can relax and enjoy hiking and camping at Falling Waters State Park in Chipley. Youngstown is home to Pitt and Sylvan Springs with Panama City home to Camp Helen State Park and St. Andrews State Park.
    In Florida, the city of Tampa Parks and Recreation Department and Naval Air Station Whiting Field were named finalists in the 150,000 to 400,000 population class and the armed forces recreation class, respectively.
    In making the announcement, DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein said, “This honor is proven evidence of the tremendous dedication of our employees and volunteers who manage the resources that provide these vast opportunities for Floridians and visitors to enjoy our natural resources. More than 32 million people visit these award-winning state parks each year, and we are proud to continue sharing how special Florida is for all who visit.”
    Governor Ron DeSantis was equally proud of this accomplishment, “With over 800,000 acres, including 100 miles of beaches, the Florida Park Service has a proud legacy of leading conservation and recreation in Florida. This legacy is built on the way Florida State Parks connect with people, engage communities and adapt to emerging needs. I am proud of Florida’s efforts to conserve and protect some of the state’s most treasured places.”
    The mission of the Florida Park Service is to carefully manage our parks and preserve them for future generations. By working with local governments, park users, scientists, recreation providers and non-governmental organizations, Florida ensures that natural areas are protected, and visitors have access to natural beauty and recreational opportunities at our parks, trails and other public lands.

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