$5K donation supports Blackwater River State Forest program for wounded vets

Posted on November 19, 2019 by Staff reports

The nonprofit Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida recently announced a partnership with the Florida Forest Service to fund “Operation Outdoor Freedom” in Blackwater River State Forest. The foundation has committed $5,000 to maintain land used by wounded veterans to reconnect with the outdoors and shooting sports.

Previous grants in Blackwater River State Forest from the foundation resulted in improved food plots and healthier deer, turkey and other species. In addition to providing nutritional forage for game animals, Operation Outdoor Freedom offers a safe environment for veterans to reestablish a connection to nature and hunting that they lost due to combat injuries. All Operations Outdoor Freedom events, lodging and meals are provided at no cost to Florida’s wounded veterans through private donations and support.

“We are honored to support the Florida Forest Service and wounded veterans,” said foundation president and CEO Andrew Walker. “We could not think of a better use of funds than to ensure those who sacrificed for us in their military service are able to once again enjoy the outdoors.”

Grant funding came from the “Wildlife Foundation of Florida” license plate, which includes an image of a deer. $25 from each purchase of the deer tag supports protection and management of lands open to public hunting, hunting safety programs and training in archery and other shooting sports for women and men of all ages and backgrounds. Grants were approved by the foundation board of directors at its September 30 meeting.

“The men and women who serve our country deserve the utmost respect, and we are grateful for partners like the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida who have joined us in this honorable endeavor to give back,” said Jim Karels, state forester and director of the Florida Forest Service.

About Operation Outdoor Freedom
Supported by Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nicole “Nikki” Fried and led by the Florida Forest Service, Operation Outdoor Freedom provides recreational and rehabilitative opportunities to wounded veterans on state forests, agricultural lands and private lands throughout Florida at no cost. Learn more at FDACS.gov/OperationOutdoorFreedom.