For millions of Floridians and tourists, outdoor recreation and being close to nature are important facets of life, according to the State’s Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP).

Every year, resident Floridians are joined by millions of tourists from around the world who flock to Florida’s beaches, wetlands and forests to enjoy the unique wildlife and beautiful wild lands the state has to offer.

The 2011 SCORP survey shows that 49 percent of residents and 47 percent of tourists participate in wildlife viewing trips in Florida.

“This is important information for Florida,” said Jerrie Lindsey, director of’ the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Office of Public Access and Wildlife Viewing Services. “It provides community leaders the information needed to develop their wildlife-viewing tourism plans.

“The survey, conducted by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, shows that wildlife-viewing activities are an economic driver within our state, especially our rural areas,” Lindsey said. “That is important for the state’s economy and jobs.”

The survey also points to the importance of businesses capitalizing on wildlife-viewing interests shared by so many people. The FWC, Lindsey noted, is where businesses and communities turn when they want advice on how to attract wildlife-viewing tourists.

“We can help communities develop and maintain wildlife-viewing opportunities that are unique to their area,” she said.

Recognizing the importance of the fact that wildlife viewing opportunities bring people close to nature, the FWC also provides the state’s residents and tourists with the resources and information they need to get the most out of their wildlife-viewing adventures.

The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail is an FWC program that highlights excellent wildlife-viewing opportunities at 491 specially designated sites throughout Florida. The FWC also manages 5.8 million acres of designated wildlife management areas, which are home to a wide variety of species and offer people various experiences with wildlife.

For more information on where to watch wildlife in Florida, visit and

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