Save Florida’s Shipwrecks

Florida Shipwreck

The Florida Division of Historical Resources has submitted a project idea in the Pepsi Refresh: Do Good for the Gulf contest for $250,000 to help protect Florida shipwrecks.

Florida ShipwreckThe Save Our Shipwrecks project will save threatened shipwrecks, enhance environmental restoration, stimulate economic development and inspire and empower conservation through interactive learning opportunities. Florida boasts distinctive and historically significant shipwrecks. 23 sites have been located off the coast of Pensacola alone. Some are archaeological preserves, others like the USS Oriskany have become a “Great Carrier Reef” providing vitally important aquatic ecosystems and habitats for marinelife. These sites are popular destinations for fishermen, divers, historians and students and are an important economic investment for coastal communities.

You can vote once each day until August 31 at http://gulf.refresheverything.com/saveourshipwrecks to help these significant resources.

Spanish Colonial Heritage Trail

The Florida Spanish Colonial Heritage Trail is a 64-page, full-color guidebook highlighting more than 50 Spanish heritage and historical sites dating from 1513 to 1821. While St. Augustine and Pensacola are landmark areas, Spanish explorations and legacies are reflected in museums, forts, parks, shipwrecks, memorials and churches throughout the state.

The publication includes color photos and illustrations of sites and artifacts as well as biographical profiles and historical essays examining Native American and Spanish interaction, Spanish missions, forts and outposts, and much more. A timeline traces historical highlights from the periods of exploration, permanent settlement and missionization, and Colonial rivalries, British and Second Spanish Periods.

Important milestones include:

  • One of the first European settlement attempts in the United States was Spanish explorer Tristan de Luna’s 1559 arrival in what today is Pensacola Bay. In February 2009, HM King Juan Carlos I and HM Queen Sofia of Spain visited Pensacola in honor of Pensacola’s 450th Anniversary.
  • The 2013 Quincentennial Celebrations to honor the 1513 arrival and exploration of Florida by Juan Ponce de Leon and the 500th Anniversary of Florida.
  • St. Augustine’s 450th Anniversary in 2015 to acknowledge Pedro Menéndez de Avilés’ arrival and settlement in 1565.

The Florida Spanish Colonial Heritage Trail was produced by VISIT FLORIDA with funding from the Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development in cooperation with the Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources. For more information on Florida’s Spanish Colonial history and cultural heritage visit www.VivaFlorida.org.

The guide book is available online at www.flheritage.com/services/trails/scht/ or may be purchased through www.FloridasHistoryShop.com.

Florida Historic Preservation Grants Funding

The Senate TED Committee has recommended ZERO funding for the Division of Historical Resources Grants Programs. The House TED Committee has recommended partial funding for the Division of Historical Resources Grants Programs. This is a starting point and at least keeps us in the budget discussions.

Florida once had one of the largest and most successful historic preservation grant programs in the country. The grants were the tipping point for allowing the preservation of numerous significant but threatened historic resources throughout the state, including over $12.5 million in Hillsborough County. These grants suffered the first major cuts in 2008, when they were cut by over two-thirds. Last year the grants were not funded at all, causing many projects to sit by the wayside, and keeping construction workers out of work.

We recognize that the Florida legislature is dealing with budget shortfalls and that they are forced to make hard decisions; however, historic preservation is the wrong corner to cut at this time when jobs are so important to Floridians. Restoration creates more jobs than new construction and, with less demolition, excavation and transportation of materials, it is greener. When the work is done, these treasures increase tourism and often anchor neighborhoods. This is true economic development.

  • These grants often provide the financial difference that moves a project forward and PROVIDING JOBS for Floridians that can’t be outsourced. More than 123,000 jobs were generated in Florida from historic preservation activities during 2000. The major areas of job creation include the manufacturing sector, retail trade sector, services sector, and construction sector, all areas that could use a little boost these days.
  • In addition, every building that is saved helps preserve the unique character of Florida communities (which is being threatened daily by development that tends to homogenize areas). These unique resources generate TOURISM which is one of Florida’s largest industries. More than $3.7 billion was spent in Florida by tourists who visited historic sites. The tourists are lured by Florida’s historic sites, historic museums, state parks, and archeological sites. There are more than 1,400 Florida listings in the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Historic preservation makes a substantial contribution to TAX COLLECTIONS for Florida state and local governments. More than $657 million in state and local taxes were generated from spending on historic preservation activities during 2000.
  • Public funds invested in historic preservation grants are matched many times over with private funds in local rehabilitation projects. State historic preservation grants have been awarded to projects in every Florida county, representing over 2,751 projects and a state investment of $212.1 million, which the Secretary of State’s office estimates is MORE THAN DOUBLED BY LEVERAGED PUBLIC AND PRIVATE FUNDS in these local communities.

What can you do? Please contact your state senators right away and ask them to please provide funding for the historic preservation grants programs. Explain to them how important this funding is to your organization, the economy, jobs and your community. Also, don’t forget to thank your state representatives for what they have included in the budget and explain how important these programs are to cultural organizations, the economy, jobs and your community.