About the FOF

About the FOF

Friends of Fakahatchee: Dedicated to financial and volunteer support to preserve the unique ecology and cultural heritage of Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park and educate the public about its importance.

Friends Forever

Francine Stevens is a hands-on President for the Friends of Fakahatchee.

We all chip in – Francine Stevens helps paint the US 41 boardwalk sign.

Welcome to the Friends of Fakahatchee website where you will discover how important this non-profit organization is to the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park.

We are a Citizen Support Organization (CSO) and exist to support the state park by working in concert with the objectives consistent with the state park Unit Management Plan (UMP).

The Friends of Fakahatchee (FOF) work hand in hand with park staff to provide resource-based recreation while educating, preserving and restoring natural resources. One of FOF’s important missions is to educate the public about the fragility of the Fakahatchee biodiversity doing so thru our seasonal adventures and programs. When you embark on a FOF adventure and attend our programs you are contributing to the Park’s financial support and you join us in becoming the voice of the Fakahatchee by spreading the word of what you have learned from our dedicated volunteers who donate their time out of the generosity of their hearts.


I invite you to the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk, and when you visit you will understand why the FOF is supporting the State’s Boardwalk Expansion Project that will provide restrooms and plenty of safe parking. The plan also includes an extension to the Boardwalk that will add hours of enjoyment in the Fakahatchee, and of course no park should be without a beautiful interpretive pavilion and this one will be reminiscent in architecture of an old cracker cabin. The Friends of Fakahatchee welcome your generous donations, specifically for the Boardwalk Expansion project.

After your visit to the Boardwalk you’ll want to explore Janes Scenic Drive. Jump on one of our adventures to find out what Janes Scenic is all about. I highly recommend the swamp walks as you will discover, like I did, there is nothing swampy about them. Peace, tranquility, and visual beauty will surround you and you will walk out with a sense of well being you never expected.

I trust I’ve inspired you to become a member of this wonderful organization, and when time permits to volunteer. Our mission is not just a poetic statement on a piece of paper. Our mission is energy kept in motion by members and volunteers like you.


Tom Maish
President, Friends of Fakahatchee Inc.

FOF Board Code of Ethics

2021 CSO Goals

  • Support the Lost Orchid restoration project.
  • Carry through assisting Park staff with the installation of the Wayfinding signs.
  • Carry through assisting Park staff with the construction of the Pole Barn
  • Assist Park staff to provide activities for visitors on Janes Scenic Drive and with the development of the walking loop trail at gate 2.
  • Increase membership.

About CSOs

As a Citizens Support Organization, the Friends work closely with the Park staff to:

  • provide interpretive materials used by Park staff
  • obtain scientific equipment to support research in the Strand
  • organize and promote events to build awareness of the Strand
  • distribute information to the general public
  • solicit support (financial and moral) for preservation of the Strand
  • record and report suspicious activity and fund the installation and maintenance of a network of hidden cameras to guard against illegal plant removal

floridaparksvcFOF volunteers do everything from clearing trails, leading swamp walks, tram rides and coastal cruises to hosting events, serving on the board of directors and much more.

Section 258.015, Florida Statutes states that the purpose of a Citizen Support Organization (CSO) is to “operate for the direct or indirect benefit of the state park system or individual units of the state park system.” In other words, the purpose of a CSO is to support the missions of the Department of Environmental Protection (Department) and the Division of Recreation and Parks (Division). By statute, CSOs are authorized to raise funds, seek and receive grants, and accept gifts, bequests of money and tangible or real property on behalf of their host parks. In addition to monetary support, CSOs assist the parks through increasing community awareness and involvement in the parks and their programs.

CSOs support the parks by working on park projects or raising money to help meet the needs of a park as defined by park management and the Unit Management Plan. The assistance CSOs provide the park may include but not be limited to recruiting volunteers, helping with special work projects, serving as guides and docents, and conducting tours or special programs. Members in the organization can also develop and promote special events and market the park and its programs to the community.