Florida Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson recently unveiled the newest addition to the state’s facilities under Operation Outdoor Freedom.
Simpson, a Republican, introduced the program to the Pine Log State Forest in Ebro, a small rural community in Washington County. The state’s site spans 620 acres and features a fully ADA-complaint building that can house and feed 12 veterans during outdoor events.
“Operation Outdoor Freedom is a unique way of connecting our wounded veterans with one another and with all the natural resources and outdoor experiences that Florida has to offer,” Simpson said, according to a press release.
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“Creating these recreational and rehabilitative experiences for Florida’s wounded veterans, free of charge, is the least we can do for those who have done so much for our state and nation.”
Simpson made the Pine Log State Forest announcement last week.
Created in 2009 and led by the Florida Forest Service, Operation Outdoor Freedom provides recreational and rehabilitative opportunities to wounded veterans on state forests, agricultural lands, and private lands throughout Florida at no cost. Operation Outdoor Freedom has hosted over 500 events and served approximately 4,100 wounded veterans.
Operation Outdoor Freedom allows free recreational opportunities to wounded vets on state-owned forests, agricultural lands, and private lands around the state. To qualify, a vet must be a Purple Heart recipient or have a service-related disability rating of at least 30%.
The Forest Service has conducted more than 500 events since its inception and served approximately 4,100 wounded veterans.
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The Pine Log State Forest will soon host deer, turkey, dove, and hog hunts, as well as freshwater fishing. Saltwater fishing is also available nearby. For those who seek other adventures in nature, the program also offers kayaking, hiking, and camping.
These facilities include bunkhouses, outdoor kitchens, dining areas, fire pits, and restrooms. The sites are outfitted to accommodate the needs of every wounded veteran participating in the program.
According to the Forest Service’s website, Operation Outdoor Freedom has a kayak trip planned for the Big Bend area near Perry on May 17, a fishing trip on Pine Island just off Cap Coral on June 2, and a scalloping event in Steinhatchee, west of Gainesville, on June 19.
For more information, visit fdacs.gov/OperationOutdoorFreedom.
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