TAVARES — Bobby Bonilla, Director of the Lake County Parks & Trails Division, recently received the 2008 Certificate of Excellence from the Park Ranger Institute, which trains and educates sworn, non-sworn, naturalists, line officers or administrators in subjects affecting parks.
"It's good recognition for the County that the Institute identified the County's new park-ranger program," Bonilla said. "It puts the County on the map with our ranger program."
According to Institute's Web site (www.rangeracademy.com), the national excellence award is given "to an individual who shows outstanding achievement above and beyond their normal duties during the past year." Along with establishing the County's park ranger system last year, the Parks & Trails Division, under Bonilla's supervision, has completed improvements to the Arnold Brothers boat ramp, continued work to open the Ferndale Preserve to the public and developed improvement plans for PEAR Park. While numerous other improvements have been made, or are in the development process, at many other Lake County parks, the most noticeable difference this past year has been the addition of the park rangers.
"The rangers provide park information and education information about the environment — that's they way to go because it invites families to our parks," Bonilla said.
Lake County's park rangers patrol the County's recreational facilities seven days a week providing security and knowledge for visitors. The rangers also lead guided nature hikes, bicycle rides and canoe trips at least once a month. A recent guided hike on Jan. 12 brought in more than 75 guests for a sneak peek of the Ferndale Preserve before it opens to the public later this year.
"We are getting more and more calls about people wanting to come out to these events — and that's a good thing," Bonilla said.
For more information about the Parks & Trails Division, call (352) 742-0992 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.