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The Office of Park Planning
As one of the five bureaus or offices comprising the Division of Recreation and Parks, the Office of Park Planning provides a wide range of technical support and professional services beneficial to management of the Florida Park Service. Specific activities include:
Florida is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts with 174 state parks and trails offering something for everyone. The physically active can select from hiking, biking and equestrian trails. History buffs can spend their time visiting the many forts preserved from days gone by. Water lovers can surf, swim and dive in the ocean, gulf, rivers, lakes and springs. And boaters and anglers just need to decide: saltwater or freshwater.
The purpose of the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan is to guide the development of a diverse, balanced, statewide outdoor recreation system to meet current and future needs. It provides the framework for the planning and implementation process.
A dynamic recreation-resource inventory provides the foundation for Florida's SCORP process. The Office of Park Planning maintains this database. The inventory is not only a planning tool for public and private recreation interests throughout the state but it also forms the basis of the statewide and regional supply and demand calculations found in Chapter 5 of the SCORP.
The National Park Service requires each state to produce an updated SCORP every five years for continued eligibility to participate in and receive funding from the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Land Acquisition and Administration
Land acquisition is critical in the effort to provide a well-rounded, diverse state park system capable of meeting its mission, "to provide resource-based recreation while preserving, interpreting and restoring natural and cultural resources."
The first step in the provision of needed resources for public outdoor recreation in the state park system are identification, evaluation and establishment of priority projects for the division's land acquisition program. Using this priority acquisition list, staff coordinates with the Division of State Lands regarding negotiation efforts and scheduling to represent the interests of the division and to ensure the timely matching of available money with negotiated projects.
Once properties are placed under the management jurisdiction of the division, the Office of Park Planning assumes land administration responsibility. This responsibility includes resolving land title or boundary disputes, encroachments, removal or relocation of use rights, and easements and other encumbrances, all to protect or improve recreational opportunities for the public directly through support of park operations.
State Park Planning
The state park management plan forms the basis for all aspects of planning, budgeting, development, management and administration of the park. A major function of the management plan is to apply the philosophy and policies established in system planning to each park on a localized basis. In doing this, the management plan considers the park in its broadest context, including external matters such as environmental threats, local economic impact and interaction with other existing parks.
The state park management plans consist of two interrelated components - the land use component, which allocates the park's fixed supply of natural, cultural and recreational resources according to their optimum uses, and the resource management component, which complements the land use component by identifying the various measures and programs needed to achieve resource management objectives.
The content, development and maintenance of unit management plans are directed by Florida Statutes 253 and 259. State Park Unit Management Plans are available in Adobe .pdf format and can be viewed by clicking on the link below and then selecting the appropriate park name.
Land Use Component
The land use component is the resource allocation plan for the park. Conceptually, park land use planning may be thought of as a continuum, dealing in its broadest sense with identifying various use "zones" for the park, and in the narrowest sense, with locating and designing individual facilities at specific use sites. Developing the land use component is a critical phase in park planning. It commits park land and water resources to preserving of existing conditions or restoring natural systems and cultural resources, or to develop the land for public or support uses along prescribed lines.
This process begins by examining the setting or environment in which the park exists and considering such matters as transportation access, population and adjacent land uses. Existing on-site conditions, facilities and uses are then assessed. Exceptional, rare or sensitive areas and features are identified and set aside for special treatment. Another important output of this step is an analysis of the park's recreational resource elements – those physical qualities that support the various resource-based recreational activities. In addition to providing a basis for determining the types and amounts of recreation the property will support, this analysis also identifies site limitations that may engender use conflicts, so efforts can be made to avoid them.
Once external factors and on-site attributes have been identified, an optimum allocation of the property's physical space is made. This step involves locating use areas (both recreational and administrative) and deciding on the types of facilities and volume of use. The final step in the process, site planning, involves the designing of individual use areas and locating specific facilities. Final site plans are normally developed only as the need arises, based on the anticipated availability of funding.
Resource Management Component
Park resource management planning is highly individualized, even between parks in the same locality. As in land use planning, the development of resource management plans involves applying system-wide policies to unique, resource-specific situations.
Resource management planning begins with a thorough and detailed inventory of the park's natural and cultural resources, and an appraisal of their quality and condition. The purpose of this step is to identify resource management problems and needs. Next, specific management objectives and management measures for both natural and cultural resources are established, aimed at correcting identified deficiencies and sustaining the park's resource base in perpetuity. At this stage, important decisions are made on such issues as ecological burning, exotic plant and animal removal, mitigation of environmental intrusions, protection measures for listed plants and animals and the long-term restoration of natural conditions.
The content, development and maintenance of unit management plans is directed by Florida Statutes 253 and 259.
State Park Unit Management Plans are available in Adobe.pdf format and can be viewed by clicking on the link below and then selecting the appropriate park name.
Public Hearing Format
For the past several years, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has been using an open house format for its public hearings. This format includes the same basic elements as traditional public hearings — information exchange, question and answer discussions and public comment opportunities. The difference between the two formats, however, is in the way information is presented. Traditional public hearings include speakers at a lectern and a fixed, linear agenda. In open house hearings, agendas are self-guided and facilitate one-on-one conversations with agency staff and technical experts. Like all public hearings, open house public hearings require formal notice and include public comment. Learn more about Open House Public Hearings.
Every 10 years, the Department of Environmental Protection updates the unit management plan for each state park and state trail. Each update to the unit management plan is based on statewide resource management goals and recreational needs, current department policies and priorities and in response to the priorities and issues of the specific state park or trail.
Each plan looks in-depth at the natural, cultural and recreational resources at the park and identifies specific management objectives and land uses. This comprehensive approach allows the department to create management solutions for each park that respond to the unique physical and social setting of the park and the needs of the state park system.
The draft plan is presented at one or more public hearings where citizens are invited to attend, learn about the draft plan and share their comments. Public comments are sought and accepted at a variety of levels – by mail, by email, by phone and in person at public hearings.
A representative Advisory Group comprised of local elected officials, agency representatives and local stakeholders is gathered to review the management plan and make recommendations. This gives all interested parties an opportunity to provide valuable input about the park, the proposed resource management activities and conceptual land use plan identified in the draft plan.
After this thorough public review, department staff makes revisions to the draft plan, as needed. The draft plan is then presented to the Acquisition and Restoration Council. The council hears the plan at an additional public hearings. The council may approve the plan or send it to the Trustees for consideration.
Public input is a critical part of updating a park’s unit management plan.
To allow ample time for citizens to review and comment, DEP posts the draft unit management plan on its website for approximately a month, and accepts comment throughout this time period.
The draft plan is presented at one or more public hearings where citizens are invited to attend, learn about the draft plan and share their comments.
Citizens may provide comments several ways- by mail, by email, by phone and in person at public hearings. Please email comments to: FL_StateParkPlanning@dep.state.fl.us; mail comments to: Office of Park Planning, 3900 Commonwealth Blvd, MS 525, Tallahassee, Florida 32399
After this thorough public review, department staff makes revisions to the draft plan, as needed. The draft plan is then presented to Acquisition and Restoration Council. The council hears the plan at an additional public hearing. The council may approve the plan or send it to the Trustees for consideration.
For More Information
If you are interested in learning more about public hearings, please sign up to receive emails from the Department of Environmental Protection. Sign up here at www.dep.state.fl.us. In the left column, share your email address. When you click submit, you’ll be given a list of subscription topics. Select DEP Divisions, Recreation and Parks. You may unsubscribe at any time.
In the News – Land Management Techniques
The department continually looks for opportunities to expand visitor services and recreation as well as make our parks and lands more self-sustaining. This both benefits taxpayers and ensures natural resources are protected into the future by guaranteeing that the parks system will be able to fund operations to achieve its ultimate goals of ecosystem restoration, resource-based recreation and land management and conservation. As part of this ongoing process, parks staff is working to gather initial information and evaluate which parks may benefit from a wide variety of land management techniques. We are only in the very early research and evaluation phase. There are no formalized proposals at this time. All land management activities are guided by the unit management plans for each of Florida's state parks and trails, which are developed and updated in an open, transparent manner and allow for public comment at multiple stages of the process. Florida is home to 174 diverse state parks and trails, ranging in size from less than 1 acre to 77,000 acres. They were acquired for – and are managed for – very different purposes. Any potential activities will be thoroughly reviewed and vetted on a park-by-park basis, and all activities will be guided by each individual park's unit management plan. These plans are developed in an open and transparent manner with multiple opportunities for public comment.
State Park Mapping
Effective park planning requires a well-organized, comprehensive repository of not only what is located in the park, but where, when, and how much. The Office of Park Planning’s Geographic Information System section performs this role, as it continually maintains and publishes inventories of recreational and operational spatial data that represent the entire state park system. GIS is responsible for:
Open Parks Map in New Window
Florida State Parks Map Direct is a public online web map, featured on FloridaStateParks.org. It is mobile-friendly, GPS-active, and displays information most useful to park visitors, such as entrances, points of interest, structures, and trails. This is one of the most comprehensive and accessible web-based state park maps of its kind. It is an ongoing collaborative effort between the Office of Park Planning’s GIS team, the Division of Recreation and Park’s web development staff, and the department’s Office of Technology & Information Services.
Last updated: October 14, 2016
3900 Commonwealth Blvd • Tallahassee, Florida 32399 Information Line: (850) 245-2157