By Tamas Mondovics
On the heels of a series of meetings about the future of its regional parks, Hillsborough County officials are offering a great way to enjoy hiking, fishing, birdwatching, and a host of other outdoor activities.
To encourage visiting its parks, County officials are urging residents to take advantage of annual park passes that are now available for easier purchase online.
“Purchasing an annual pass used to require going to the regional park administrative office and completing the paperwork and payment on site,” said Todd Prat with Hillsborough County Communications department.
Now, outdoor enthusiasts can skip the trip and buy an annual pass from their computer or mobile device. The annual pass allows free access to the County’s 10 regional parks. The cost is $50 for an individual pass and $100 for families.
Pratt said that the permit is issued in the form of a transferrable tag that hangs from a vehicle’s rear view mirror.
Currently, the daily entry fee for Hillsborough County Regional Parks is $2 per day with up to eight people in a vehicle. Timing, of course, is everything as the new, more convenient system comes just as prime camping season begins in Hillsborough County. With moderate temperatures, lower humidity, and fewer bugs through March, it is an ideal time for outdoor adventures.
Camping for the general public is offered at nearby regional parks including: Edward Medard, 6140 Turkey Creek Rd. in Plant City as well as E.G. Simmons, 2401 19th Ave., N. W., in Ruskin, Lithia Springs, 3932 Lithia Springs Rd. in Lithia and Alderman’s Ford, 100 Alderman’s Ford Park Dr, in Plant City, and requires an additional fee.
County Regional parks also include: Eureka Springs, Lake, Lake Rogers, Lettuce Lake, Upper Tampa Bay and the Upper Tampa Bay Trail.
Active duty members and honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, National Guard, or Reserves who live in Hillsborough County, active duty members of first-responders who live or work in Hillsborough County as well as Hillsborough County BOCC Employees are offered a 25 percent annual regional park pass discount.
For info about the County’s regional parks, visit HillsboroughCounty.org or call 987-6240.