Florida Forests and State Parks Receive National Award

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Based on their commitment and dedication to public lands, both the Florida Park Service and National Forests in Florida were recently selected as the 2011 Take Pride in America award winners. Last year, the US Forest Service and Florida Park Service recognized the need for volunteer engagement and community outreach on all public lands, which led to the placement of AmeriCorps volunteers in Florida's National Forests. 

Have you visited a National Forest in Florida lately? Recently, I've spent a lot of time in the Ocala National Forest hopping from one recreation area to another. Here's a quick description and a must-do list at each place:

Apalachicola National Forest: Learn about the Woodville Karst Plain with a stop at Leon Sinks, where you'll see unique caverns and water-filled sinkholes along the trail. History lovers will appreciate Fort Gadsden, which dates back to the War of 1812. 67 Miles of the Florida National Scenic Trail passes through the forest as well.

Ocala National Forest: Take the Black Bear Scenic Byway through the Ocala National Forest, stopping off at Juniper Springs, Alexander Springs, Silver Glen Springs or Salt Springs. All are excellent spots for summer fun, with massive gin-clear springs, camping and interpretive trails. The Florida National Scenic Trail can be easily accessed from all four places. 

Osceola National Forest: Visit the Olustee Battlefield, Florida's most significant Civil War site. In February, the Olustee Festival and Reenactment draws thousands of people to Olustee Battlefield State Park. A 23-mile section of the Florida National Scenic Trail passes through incredible pine woodlands and cypress swamps.

For more information on National Forests in Florida, visit www.fs.usda.gov/florida or www.nationalforestsinflorida.com.

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