The Division of Recreation and Parks has initiated a Hammock Camping Pilot program to test the suitability of hammock camping in Florida State Parks. The Division intends to allow hammocks to be affixed to appropriate trees, in approved park areas, for both overnight and day use, for a period of one year. After one year, the pilot program will be evaluated based on an assessment of resource impact and user feedback. The pilot program will extend to all staffed parks. While many have pointed out the potential conflict between hammocks affixed to trees and F.A.C. Rule 62D-2, the purpose of the rule is to prevent negative impacts on natural resources.
To prevent negative resource impact, park managers will be responsible for identifying and designating which trees may be used for attaching hammocks, ensuring only suitable trees are used. In general, trees should be hardwood or pine, a minimum of 6” diameter at breast height, and be spaced approximately 10’ to 15’ apart. Trees which would constitute infringement upon an adjacent campsite or infringe upon other day use activities will not be selected. Executed responsibly, hammock camping has the potential to be more environmentally friendly than tent camping due to much less disturbance of the ground.
Hammocks will be required to use webbing straps a minimum of 1” wide (often referred to as “tree huggers”) to attach hammocks to trees. Ropes, cords, nails, bolts, etc., which may damage tree bark are prohibited. Many hammock campers prefer to tie a rope or cord above their hammock creating a ridgeline for a tarp to abate rain, wind and insects. These ridgelines are required to be attached to webbing straps, not the trees.
Hammock camping will be permitted only in designated camping areas. Parks without camping areas will not offer overnight hammock camping. Hammocks will be permitted in the day use areas of all staffed parks. In designated camping areas and day use areas, park managers will identify and designate the exact location(s) approved for hammocks. Selection of all approved hammock use areas will take into account the need to prevent negative resource impact and negative impact on the recreational experience of other park visitors.
The Division will not accept responsibility for injuries suffered as a result of hammock use, or any damage to personal property which may occur as a result of equipment failure or user error. In order to avoid liability, Division staff is prohibited from assisting hammock campers in setting up their hammocks or determining how high a hammock should be from the ground.
For the duration of the pilot program, hammock camping user groups will be advised to contact Mr. Philip Madden in the Division’s Bureau of Operation Services. He may be reached at 850 245-3076 or by email at Philip.J.Madden@dep.state.fl.us
. Mr. Madden will serve as liaison between the users and park management of any park receiving hammock camping requests.
The key to determining the success of the pilot program will be soliciting and receiving feedback from primary stakeholders. Two online surveys will be created using Surveygizmo. One survey will be used for user feedback, and the other for park staff feedback. Results of both surveys will be presented to the Division of Recreation and Parks Management Team, at which time it may be decided whether or not to continue to allow hammocks to be affixed to trees.