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As 2016 continues, we are reminded that some of the best legislation passed by the Congress of the United States occurred 100 years ago in forming the National Park Service and the National Parks, Monuments and Seashore designations. The United States might lack some of the historical and cultural significance found in Europe, Asia and Africa. However, its most majestic beauty is truly its natural and pristine places, and I am very thankful for the wisdom to preserve these places for us to see today.

Two weeks ago I had an opportunity to visit Everglades National Park and enjoy the immense saw grass prairie filled with alligators, fish and other unique flora and fauna. However, this past weekend I was able to enjoy my favorite part of the National Park System, which is the Gulf Islands National Seashore right here in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

At the invitation of Dan Brown I was able to attend the Bioblitz last weekend and participate with Escambia County Marine Resources Division Manager Robert Turpin and other county staff in identifying a variety of species in the marine environment in the grass beds just off the Gulf Island Seashore in Santa Rosa County. Whether walking through the beautiful live oak forest or hearing the calls of nesting Osprey from above or dragging a seine net over the grass beds to find the great diversity of marine life, I was keenly aware of the beautiful and wonderful environment in which we live.

I don’t know if each of us in Northwest Florida realize how lucky we are to be so close to one of these National Park designations. Most of the eastern United States lives hundreds if not thousands of miles from the nearest National Park while we are very fortunate in Escambia County to have the opportunity to visit these environmental treasures every day.

In appreciation I would like to do two things in this letter. First, I hope to thank Dan and all of his administrative and ranger staff who oversees Gulf Islands National Seashore. They do an awesome job of preparing the environment for each of us to be able to experience whether at a historic military fort or a sunny day on the Gulf. They do a great job in keeping the Park going and available to the thousands of visitors who visit every year.

Secondly, I would like to invite all citizens of Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties to visit these parks and to help them financially continue to provide the services they do for our community. Take the time to visit one of the portions of the National Seashore whether a visit to Barrancas on the Naval Air Station or a day on the beach on Santa Rosa Island or even a chance to see some of the best grass beds in the Greater Pensacola Bay system off shore in Naval Live Oaks. This is a true treasure that we are very fortunate to have and I simply wish to thank the National Park Service and recognize them in the 100 years of operations.

Thank you for providing such a wonderful amenity for all of the citizens in Northwest Florida and the United States.

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