• Pa-Hay-okee Overlook

    Everglades

    National Park Florida

South Florida to Receive $6 million in Centennial Challenge Grants!

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Date: April 24, 2008
Contact: Linda Friar, 305-242-7714

Homestead and Ochopee Florida– The National Park Service (NPS) announced today that south Florida’s National Parks and Preserve will receive $6 million in additional funding for four projects in 2008! Half of this will support a significant restoration project in Everglades National Park and the rest will provide the parks and preserve the ability to increase environmental education, recruit and train volunteers to become citizen scientists, and to support resource protection and restoration efforts. (These projects are summarized in the table below.)

Big Cypress National Preserve, Biscayne, Dry Tortugas, and Everglades National Parks in south Florida have all been selected to receive federal matching funds for their proposed 2008 Centennial Challenge Projects. The federal funds will match $3 million in private donations already identified from local partners and the National Park Foundation. This additional funding is part of the NPS Centennial Challenge Initiative, a 10-year program to reinvigorate and highlight the importance of America’s national parks as they prepare to celebrate their 100th Anniversary in 2016. The initiative includes a focus on increased funding for park operations plus a President’s Challenge: up to $100 million a year in federal funds to match $100 million a year in philanthropic donations to the National Park Service.

Superintendents Karen Gustin from Big Cypress, Mark Lewis from Biscayne, and Dan Kimball from Everglades and Dry Tortugas are each thrilled to be part of a collaborative effort to preserve the natural resources they are charged with managing and enhance the environmental education programs available for the community. Each superintendent would like to congratulate the parks and thank their partners for such a significant investment to the national parks and preserve of south Florida.

National Park Service Director Mary A. Bomar said, "With the nearly $25 million Congress has appropriated and nearly $27 million of matching commitments from our park partners, the Centennial Challenge Initiative today moves onto the landscape and into people’s lives. It’s a great day for the National Park Service and a great day for the citizens of south Florida and managers of Big Cypress National Preserve, and Biscayne and Everglades National Parks."

"This is how we put our Centennial goals on the ground and it’s quite a beginning," Bomar said. "We have 110 programs and projects involving more than 130 individual, public and non-profit partners at 76 national park units in 38 states and the District of Columbia."

The environmental education proposal, collaboratively submitted by all four Park Service units, will allow for continuation and expansion of very popular programs at each of these parks to teach local children how the ecosystems of these four parks are interrelated and the importance of their role in becoming good stewards of the resources. The additional funding from this proposal will allow the parks and preserve collectively to hire additional seasonal and temporary park rangers and fund transportation and supplies for a program that serves as many as 25,000 school children annually. The partners for this program are the South Florida National Parks Trust and Toyota USA Foundation who are the primary funding partners. Friends of Big Cypress, and the Everglades Association are also sponsors of this project. Not only will the funds provided help to sustain and improve the education programs offered this year, but the results achieved should ensure these parks a place in the competition for similar grants for years to come.

Over half of the $6 million grant for 2008 will go towards the Everglades National Park ‘s restoration project, sponsored by the National Park Foundation. On completion of this 2008 project 600 acres of highly disturbed, exotic plant infested former farmland in the Hole-in-the-Donut region of the park will be restored to high quality wetland and soils removed during this restoration will be used to fill 3 borrow pits to natural conditions in 2008 through this grant. T

Two other projects at Biscayne National Park have been approved to receive Centennial Challenge funding. One project, sponsored by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Tropical Audubon, will provide training for local youth to assist scientists in obtaining baseline monitoring information of coastal birds. A second project, funded by the South Florida National Parks Trust and the Hoover Foundation, will enlist the help of the University of Miami students and volunteers from Cordis Corporation to grow corals as part of a state of the art coral nursery program for reintroduction on to the reef tract.

The National Park Centennial Challenge Initiative provides a framework for the National Park Service to engage the public in its mission. Its goals and strategies will embrace new constituents and gain support from a broad array of public and private partners to ensure America’s national parks continue to thrive into the next 100 years. The projects identified and funded for the south Florida Parks and Preserve are designed to meet this goal and to strengthen the connection between these nationally significant resources, park neighbors and the visiting public.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016, America invites the world to discover the meaning of national parks.

What parks mean in people’s lives.

What inspires people to experience parks

What inspires people to become devoted to these special places

For a complete list of the 2008 National Park Service Centennial Challenge Projects and Programs please visit www.nps.gov/2016

-NPS-

Did You Know?

Sawgrass Prairie

The Everglades used to span from Lake Okeechobee in central Florida all the way down to Florida Bay. Now only 25% of the historic Everglades remains, which is being protected by the National Park.