TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Park Service has updated its Pocket Ranger app for smartphones to include a global-positioning feature that shows the exact proximity of the user to each public-beach access point in Florida, along with information and locations for the 171 state parks and trails.
The Florida Coastal Management Program, thanks to funding from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), created the Coastal Access Guide, which is housed within the Pocket Ranger smartphone app and provides users with more than 2,000 public coastal access sites. The app also depicts their proximity to the user’s current location. Divided into three regions – panhandle, Atlantic coast and southwest Florida coast – the app provides useful information to help plan upcoming springtime trips to the beach and state parks.
The Pocket Ranger app also translates Florida’s beach-flag colors, links to a weather site and provides a “Good to Know” button that links to NOAA’s surf-zone forecast, rip current information and the department’s hurricane information page. These are all great things to know if you’re planning a trip to the beach, whether it be planned or impromptu! The app also provides information on the department’s coastal management program and NOAA’s marine debris program.
“Almost 300,000 people have downloaded the Florida Pocket Ranger mobile app for their iPhone or Android phones,” said Florida Park Service Director Donald Forgione. “We are pleased to offer this new GPS feature to showcase beaches and state parks near the user 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 region’s coastal counties and includes a list of state parks, coastal cities, rivers, paddling trails and other points of interest.
This app also allows visitors to plan a perfect outdoor trip by searching for a park or beach by GPS location. Visitors can also search by desired 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 apps provide plenty of other features to maximize visitors’ outdoor adventures:
- Educational information, amenities, maps and 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; and
- Built-in compass.
The Florida State Parks Pocket Ranger® app is available 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.