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Membership growing for Friends of Cayo Costa State Park

Update presented at island chamber business breakfast

October 3, 2012
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Pine Island Eagle

The Friends of Cayo Costa State Park have experienced an increase in memberships and desire to receive the monthly newsletter since the non-profit organization formed.

The friends group is a citizens support organization that works with the Florida Park Services to help bring support to Cayo Costa State Park.

Norm Meshaw, a volunteer of Cayo Costa, said the Friends of Cayo Costa State Park organization is doing really well.

Article Photos

Individuals enjoy the sunny beaches, as well as the fishing opportunities that surround the Cayo Costa State Park.

He became a volunteer at Cayo Costa State Park six years ago and is there at least once a week. There are currently 36 volunteers who provide their time at the state park.

"It is such a beautiful place, how could you not do something to try to make it better," Meshaw said of getting involved with the Friends of Cayo Costa. "It's just magical."

Right now they have more than 20 members of the organization and more than 200 folks that are signed up for the monthly newsletter.

The 1st Annual Cayo Costa Heritage Day, which was held May 5, Meshaw said was a complete success. He said he remembered the tickets going from 35 people to more than 200 people in no time at all.

"The first one is always a learning experience," he said.

The planning has already begun for the 2nd annual Cayo Costa Heritage Day, which is set for Saturday, May 4, 2013.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said.

A presentation was provided Tuesday morning at the Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce business breakfast meeting by Meshaw to provide an update of Cayo Costa State Park.

"Last year we had over 126,000 visitors to Cayo Costa State Park," he said, adding that there were also more than 12,000 campers that stayed in either the 12 cabins or 20 campsites. "That's a pretty big impact."

The economic impact for Pine Island, Meshaw said, is also substantial because the campers are purchasing boat rentals, fuel and whatever else they need from Winn-Dixie to make their stay on the island nice. He said they are also using the services of Tropic Star if they do not have a boat of their own.

"We don't have restaurants and electricity," Meshaw said of Cayo Costa. "Whatever those campers were going to bring out with them they had to carry with them or purchase on Pine Island."

The non-profit organization has raised $10,000 so far, which he said will be used for a building, a visitor's welcome center, at the state park. The gift shop is also going to be moved to the welcome center.

"It will give us a chance for a place for lectures and education about the island for school groups," Meshaw said.

Meshaw said they also received $10,000 in grant money to produce a movie about the heritage of Cayo Costa. He said interviews will be done with some of the original residents of Cayo Costa.

"They want to interview some of those folks and capture that while we can," Meshaw said.

The state park still has a few turtle nests left, which was a part of the more than 60 different nestings that took place this year.

"It's really cool," Meshaw said.

For more information about the Friends of Cayo Costa State Park visit



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