Park Service Ranger App Adds Beach Access - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Park Service Ranger App Adds Beach Access

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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Florida Park Service has updated its Pocket Ranger app for smartphones to include every public beach access point in Florida, in addition to information about its 171 state parks, and trails.

Those who have downloaded Pocket Ranger for state park information now have access to locations and amenities about every public beach access point in Florida. More than 2,000 public coastal access sites are included in the coastal section. Divided into three regions – panhandle, Atlantic coast and southwest Florida coast – the app provides useful information to help plan trips to the beach.

"More than 70,000 people have downloaded the Florida Pocket Ranger mobile app for their I-phone or Android phones," said Florida Park Service Director Donald Forgione, "We are pleased to offer them additional information about beaches where they may enjoy Florida's famous sunshine and natural resources."

The app provides a comprehensive list of beach access points in each county, and the amenities each access point offers, including boardwalks, parking spaces, restrooms, picnic pavilions and boat ramps. Each section features an overview of each of the region's coastal counties and includes a list of state parks, coastal cities, rivers, paddling trails and other points of interest.

One of DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr.'s priorities for the Department is increasing access to state parks and trails for Floridians and visitors. The app allows visitors to plan that perfect outdoor trip by searching for a park or beach by GPS location or activity to find nearby locations to enjoy hiking, camping, boating, birding and more. Once there, advanced GPS and GIS mapping technology allows visitors to track and record trails, mark waypoints and locate friends in the area. There is even an option to cache GPS maps in advance to ensure that navigation remains possible in the event of lost mobile reception.

The app also translates Florida's beach flag colors and provides a "Good to Know" button that links to NOAA's surf zone forecast and rip current info and the Department's hurricane info page. The app also links to a weather site. All good things to know if you're headed to the beach. The app also provides information on the Department's coastal management program and NOAA's marine debris program.

The apps provide plenty of other features to maximize visitors' outdoor adventure:

-          Educational information, amenities, maps & directions.

-          Real-time calendar of events.

-          News, advisories, and weather alerts.

-          Social networking and photo sharing.

-          Potentially life-saving alert feature.

-          Advanced GPS mapping features.

-          Recall, post or share saved data.

-          Friend Finder.

-          Built-in compass.

The Florida State Parks Pocket Ranger® app is available now on iTunes and Android Market by searching "Official Florida State Parks" and is identified under ParksByNature Network. It is also available on PocketRanger.com and is formatted as a Mobile Website: http://fl.pocketranger.com.

The Florida Park Service partnered with ParksByNature Network™ and PocketRanger.com to create this app free for the public. For a tutorial on how to use the app, please visit www.pocketranger.com. It is recommended to use Wi-Fi or a strong wireless connection when downloading the app.