A new campground at Boyd Hill Nature Park will honor Terry Tomalin, the popular outdoors editor for the Tampa Bay Times and adjunct professor at USF St. Petersburg, who died of a heart attack in 2016.
At the St. Petersburg City Council meeting on June 3, council celebrated completion of the new Terry Tomalin Campground, the first campground in the city open to individuals. Friends and family members were on hand to speak about Tomalin, and his dedication to getting everyone, especially kids, involved with nature and the outdoors.
“I grew up with stories of his adventures.” said Kai Tomalin, remembering his dad’s tales of backpacking across the Australian deserts, mountain climbing and kayaking the turbulent South Pacific Ocean.
But with all the faraway, exotic travels, Kai said his father always stressed that there were great adventures right here in our own backyard.
“By Odin’s beard, I hear my father every day and I will continue to hear him,” said Kai, “He would be proud to be part of a community that’s making adventure accessible in our city.”
Others remembered Tomalin fondly as a friend and his dedication to his Boy Scout troop. Mayor Rick Kriseman spoke from the public podium to praise Tomaln’s writing craft, adding that he is proud to be part of a city that cares about the outdoors.
Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin tearfully recalled her late husband as “fearless,” who kayaked the Ten Thousand Islands alone, and she said his Scout troop “was an Eagle Scout factory.”
She added it was ”an honor to have the city’s first campground named for him.”
Enhancements at Boyd Hill
The new Terry Tomalin Campground includes 12 individual primitive sites for a public camping area on the 245-acre nature preserve, plus a “recreation and education center will help serve the city’s vision to educate and inspire youth and adults to become advocates for nature, sustainable practices and conservation.”
The campground is now accessible to anyone who wants to enjoy nature close to home, as Tomalin, who camped there with his Scout troop, would have wanted.
“When people think of St. Petersburg, they think of our beautiful waterfront, sunny weather and excellent museums,” said Mike Jefferis of St. Petersburg’s Leisure Services. ”We also have outstanding parks and preserves, and Boyd Hill Nature Preserve is an exciting experience to immerse yourself in nature.”
In a press release from the city, Jefferis added, “This is a significant renovation to an area of the preserve that has never been open to the public before. You don’t need to be an environmentalist or have a passion for the outdoors to enjoy these new amenities; curiosity is all you need.”
The first phase of the campground can accommodate 12 primitive tent campsites, each with a picnic table and fire pit. The campsites were created out of natural openings in the wooded area to minimize environmental impact and to maximize camper privacy. A second phase will create 12 additional campsites.
Hammock Hall and Other New Features
Hammock Hall, the new 3,131-square-foot welcome and education center, is at a new, main entrance for the Environmental Studies Area, near the Gate 2 entrance along 31st St. S. A preserve ranger will assist visitors at the new entrance. Hammock Hall will host a variety of programs such as the Climate Change Series, with monthly discussions on its impacts in our area, plus other programs encouraging sustainable practices.
Other projects include two demonstration gardens, and the restoration of wetland areas, in partnership with the Southwest Water Management that will result in a stream running through the preserve.
The City of St. Petersburg will host a dedication ceremony to introduce the new Terry Tomalin Campground and enhancement projects on Saturday, July 3 at 10:30 a.m. at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve Environmental Studies Area, 2900 31st St. S., Gate 1. For more, visit stpeteparksrec.org/boydhillpreserve or call 727-893-7441.