From: Jill Barton, Associated Press
Published October 11, 2004 12:00 AM

State Official Encourages Tourism at Florida Parks After Surveying Storm Damage

HOBE SOUND, Florida — A state environmental official recently completed her tour of hurricane-ravaged parks, saying their repair "will be a symbol of Florida up and running."


More than 100 parks sustained damage from the four storms that hit the state in the past eight weeks, including flooding, debris-littered beaches, and impassable roadways. Over the last few weeks, all but three have reopened.


"Welcome back tourists, welcome back citizens. There's a place to come and just get a break from all the recovery that we are in," said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Colleen M. Castille.


Castille said some hurricane damage, such as flooding, can repair itself. Beaches, like the one at Cayo Costa State Park in southwest Florida, also can naturally be restored.


"Florida's environment was raised on hurricanes, so it will come back, and with some help from us, it will come back much more quickly," Castille said.


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Castille said she's already seen signs of recovery.


"A majority of our turtle nests were lost in the storms, but turtles have a natural homing device, so at least those adult turtles that have survived the storm will come back to the beaches and be able to nest again next year," she said.


The beaches that suffered the most include those in the Panhandle. Three — Santa Rosa Island, Fort Pierce Inlet State Park, and Avalon State Park — remain closed.


Florida's state park system is one of the largest in the country and attracted more than 19 million visitors last year.


Source: Associated Press


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