Nikki Fried announces opening of campsites at state forests across Florida
Myakka Canopy Walkway at Myakka State Forest.

Phase One of reopening state campgrounds started May 8.

Campsites and trail heads in Florida’s state parks reopened on Friday after being shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Forest Service announced Phase One of the reopening of the parks. That means 19 parks around Florida will open campgrounds with limited capacity.

“The public health of Floridians and our Florida Forest Service personnel is of utmost importance during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Fried said.

“Our Florida State Forest recreation areas are some of Florida’s greatest natural treasures, but in an abundance of caution, we are taking a cautious, measured approach to re-opening these areas while continuing to follow CDC guidelines.”

Social distancing will continue to be enforced, as is taking place even on fully open beaches around Florida.

Campsites can be reserved but only online or by calling (877) 879-3859.

Day use passes will not be required to enter any of the open parks at this time. But outside open campsites, restrooms and some recreation areas will remain closed.

Welaka State Park still has all recreation and campsites closed.

Five other parks also have some recreation areas restricted, including three portions of Blackwater River State Park and six of Jennings State Forest. The Indian Lake Dock at Tiger Bay State Forest, the Croom Motorcycle Area and River Junction Day Use Area of Withlacoochee State Forest and Tate’s Hell OHV Trail System remain closed. But other sites at those state parks remain open for use.

All campsites and recreation areas are now open at Pine Log State Forest, Point Washington State Forest, Lake Talquin State Forest, John Bethea State Forest, Cary State Forest, Ralph E. Simmons State Forest, Goethe State Forest, Indian Lake State Forest, Ross Prairie State Forest, Tiger Bay State Forest, Seminole State Forest, Lake Wales Ridge State Forest, Myakka State Forest, OK Slough State Forest and Picayune Strand State Forest.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


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