News Release from the Governor's Press Office:
TALLAHASSEE – Governor Charlie Crist today, as part of his continuing commitment to preserving Florida’s natural beauty and resources, toured the Beau Turner Youth Conservation Center and met with Ted and Beau Turner and energy entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens to discuss environmental and related economic opportunities for the Sunshine State. Governor Crist visited with Jefferson County children as they enjoyed the solar-powered conservation center’s Olympic archery center, various nature trails and fishing pond.
“The Beau Turner Youth Conservation Center is a wonderful facility where Florida’s children can enjoy her natural beauty while learning how to protect it,” said Governor Crist. “It is a reminder of the great things we can accomplish for our environment by working together, state agencies and private organizations and individuals, for a better Florida.”
The Beau Turner Youth Conservation Center opened in Jefferson County just east of Tallahassee in March 2008 and is the first privately developed conservation facility for children in Florida. It is also the only conservation center in the Sunshine State that operates entirely on solar power, through solar panels on the main pavilion’s roof. Beau Turner, son of media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner, leases the 160-acre property at no cost to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which operates the center.
“In an age where we’re competing against video games and computers, it’s important that we introduce our children to outdoor activities and that our communities continue to protect natural areas,” said Beau Turner. “If children have no place or reason to get outdoors, then we may lose our next great naturalist.”
The center, through its free classes and host of volunteers, has provided more than 1,300 youth with environmental education and hunting and fishing activities. The center features a stocked fishing pond, managed impounds for waterfowl, planted fields for small game, a state-of-the-art rifle range, Olympic-style and 3-D archery courses, and a trap-shooting facility that throws biodegradable clay pigeons. Free classes teaching gun safety, fishing, wildlife management and other aspects of outdoor life and conservation are offered throughout the summer for youth ages 12 to 16.
“The Beau Turner Youth Conservation Center is a great example of the significant impact private landowners can make by encouraging conservation and environmental stewardship,” said Ted Turner, founder of CNN Media. “I’m thrilled with Governor Crist’s commitment to environmental causes and to ensuring that our kids and grandkids have a healthy planet where they can live, learn and play.”
Governor Crist met with Ted and Beau Turner and T. Boone Pickens after the tour, discussing various initiatives and opportunities to continue protecting Florida’s environment while strengthening the economy. T. Boone Pickens, through a national campaign, is encouraging Americans to call on Congress to support renewable energy. Governor Crist has made protecting the environment a commitment since taking office and continues to encourage investment in renewable energies such as solar, wind and wave, as well as alternative fuel sources such as ethanol and biofuels.
Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act recently passed by the U.S. Congress, Florida is expected to receive more than $12 billion in federal stimulus money – including $23.5 million for energy efficiency grants and solar panel rebates; and $124.5 million for grants, loans and other incentives to spur investment in renewable and alternative energy in homes, businesses and schools.