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Florida Department of Environmental Protection

August 5, 2014 Newsletter

Paddle Florida Registration Is Now Open

~Experience the beauty of Florida's natural waterways with Paddle Florida.~   

Kayakers on the St. Johns River
Kayakers on the St. Johns River.

Home to some of the most beautiful waterways and scenic views, Florida offers an escape from everyday life and Paddle Florida strives to make a visit to Florida one of the most unforgettable experiences. As a not-for-profit corporation, Paddle Florida was organized as an effort to support canoeing and kayaking throughout Florida. Exposing paddlers to Florida’s natural beauty and rich heritage, Paddle Florida seeks to promote wildlife preservation, water conservation, springs restoration and waterways protection. Every year, Paddle Florida hosts a series of trips highlighting some of Florida’s scenic rivers, coastal environments and canoe trails. Staff members scout the trips in advance to ensure safe waterway conditions and search for shoreline camping sites and rest stops.

Registration is now open for paddlers of all ages for six upcoming trips hosted by Paddle Florida. From October through April, trips will include the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail, Wekiva/St. Johns River Ramble, Florida Keys Challenge, Wild, Wonderful Withlacoochee, Dam to the Bay on the Ochlockonee and ending with the Suwannee River Paddling Festival. In partnership with Paddle Florida, paddlers will be also be able to experience the Florida State Park system during their trip by residing in some of its campgrounds. Paddlers can look forward to a much needed rest at parks including Suwannee River State Park, Wekiwa Springs State Park, Long Key State Park, Bahia Honda State Park, Rainbow Springs State Park, Bald Point State Park and many more great campsites.

Paddle Florida’s trips offer a fun and relaxing recreational opportunity, while also providing an extensive workout. Ranging from ages of eight to 80, paddlers can participate in full, multi-day trips or opt for the Paddle Florida Lite options. Paddlers will have the option of purchasing a meal plan and shuttle service for each trip. Paddle Florida will have lead boats for each trip, but it is recommended most paddlers have experience before attending a multi-day trip. Partnering outfitters with Paddle Florida offer canoes and kayaks for rent and paddlers are encouraged to bring necessities such as water, a hat, sunscreen, a camera, a spray skirt, paddles and a personal flotation device (PFD). Paddlers should expect 7 to 21 miles of traveling per day, as the trips vary. Paddle Florida wants paddlers to enjoy the natural beauty of Florida during their trips and therefore allows for plenty of time for breaks, swimming, hiking, fishing and relaxing along the banks and in Florida State Parks. Paddlers are encouraged to bring snorkeling or diving gear to explore the springs and sea life among the coral reef.

The series of Paddle Florida trips are:

  • Oct. 24-29, 2014: Suwannee River Wilderness Trail

  • Dec. 5-8, 2014: Wekiva/St. Johns River Ramble

  • Jan. 15-22, 2015: Florida Keys Challenge

  • Feb. 15-20, 2015: Wild, Wonderful Withlacoochee

  • Mar. 14-20, 2015: Dam to the Bay on the Ochlockonee

  • Apr. 3-5, 2015: Suwannee River Paddling Festival

  • The first trip registration deadline is October 10, 2014. Trip fees average $275 per person with $150 meal plans and $25 shuttle services available, with some exceptions. Visit Paddle Florida for more information on trip itineraries, pricing, paddler profiles and much more.


    Florida State Parks Welcomes A New Guest

    ~Annie the manatee gives birth to a healthy calf.~

    Manatee and baby

    A manatee with her baby at Blue Spring State Park.

    On Friday, July 25, Blue Spring State Park received a surprise from a local manatee. Best known as Annie, the new mother gave birth to a healthy calf next to the spring boil in the park. The new duo continue to enjoy the park waters. All water activities, including swimming and scuba diving have now been reopened to the public. Florida State Parks would like to take Cora Berchem for the great photo.

    Annie with her calf at Blue Spring State Park.

    Annie with her newborn calf. Photo by Cora Berchem of the Save the Manatee Club.


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