When I first started coming to Englewood, I was told repeatedly to visit Stump Pass Beach State Park – that it was “not to be missed.” Like most everyone else, I did fall in love with its natural, unspoiled beauty – the way all Florida beaches were in an earlier time.
Stump Pass Beach State Park, like nearly all state operated parks, receives only limited government funding that doesn’t cover all the costs of operation. A group of like-minded volunteers has banded together and formed “Friends of Stump Pass Beach State Park,” a sub-committee of the Barrier Island Parks Society (BIPS,) a 501(c)3 nonprofit citizen support group. BIPS is affiliated with three area state parks: Cayo Costa, Gasparilla and now Stump Pass. The State Park Manager and the rangers at Stump Pass enthusiastically support FOSP and help the group in any way they can. The other two parks already have Friends groups that raise funds to improve the parks.
The Friends of Stump Pass Beach Park (FOSP) was founded in July 2018 by individuals with the mission “to preserve nature and protect wildlife by connecting people to the unspoiled beauty of Stump Pass Beach Park.” These volunteers are passionate about maintaining this natural treasure at the southern end of Manasota Key. They are seeking people who share their desire to preserve Stump Pass so the visitors can continue to enjoy its natural beauty and all the marine and wildlife that comprise it well into the future. Volunteers are needed for the core decision-making team as well as Friends to help FOSP carry out its mission of preserving this Charlotte County legacy.
FOSP, in collaboration with the Shorebird Alliance, created a bird steward program to educate people about nesting shorebirds. They also support the Coastal Wildlife Club which operates the sea turtle patrol program. FOSP won a 2019 Keep Charlotte Beautiful award. They are spearheading the International Coastal Cleanup at Englewood Beach on September 28, 8am – 11am to clean up the cigarette butts that litter the beach and create water pollution, too.
One part of preserving the Stump Pass legacy is to document the historical past of Stump Pass. They are asking members of the public to share their stories of the Stump Pass area, including Whidden Key and Peterson Island. If you have memories to share, please contact Sharon McKenzie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the Friends list of enhancing Stump Pass Beach Park is new signage and wayfinding markers. Also, the state park is in desperate need of an ATV to patrol the beach and transport supplies and people. The current ATV is out of commission and a borrowed one also broke down. $15,000 is the amount needed to purchase a new one for the rangers. If you would like to contribute to the fund, you can contact FOSP by sending a message via their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/pg/friendsofStumpPass.
FOSP meets on the third Wednesday of the month from 3-5pm at the Elsie Quirk Library and the next meeting is October 16. If you would like to attend a meeting, please contact them at FriendsofStumpPass@gmail.com. You can also visit their Facebook page Friends of Stump Pass to learn more and message them. If you would like to become a Friend, support levels start at $20 and you receive two free park entries to Stump Pass.