New public campground and other major enhancements at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

The City of St. Petersburg’s Parks and Recreation Department has completed new enhancement projects at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, including the opening of the new Terry Tomalin Campground, a 12-site primitive public camping area.

ST. PETERSBURG – The City of St. Petersburg’s Parks and Recreation Department has completed new enhancement projects at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, including the opening of the new Terry Tomalin Campground, a 12-site primitive public camping area.

These projects at the city’s 245-acre nature preserve and 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.

“When people think of St. Petersburg, they think of our beautiful waterfront, sunny weather, and excellent museums, but we also have outstanding parks and preserves, and Boyd Hill Nature Preserve is an exciting experience to immerse yourself in nature,” said Leisure Services Administrator Mike Jefferis.

“The Parks and Recreation Department wants to connect people and especially children with nature right in the heart of the city. 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 enhancement projects include:

  1. Creation of the new Terry Tomalin Campground
    • The new campground offers a unique urban camping experience where guests can immerse themselves in nature while being only minutes from the city’s downtown core.
    • 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.
    • Camping at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve has previously been open only to organizations, but this new campground is open to individuals and families, being the first public primitive family campground in St. Pete.
    • The campground’s name honors the late Terry Tomalin, former Tampa Bay Times outdoors writer and husband to Deputy Mayor and City Administrator Kanika Tomalin, who supported camping at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve through several services projects on the preserve. Terry frequented the current campground with his Boy Scouts Troop and the new Terry Tomalin Campground would allow more visitors to get closer to nature in the city’s backyard.
  2. Construction of Hammock Hall
    • The new 3,131 sq. ft. building serves as the welcome and education center at a new, consolidated main entrance for the Environmental Studies Area near the existing Gate 2 entrance along 31st St. S.
    • A preserve ranger will be on staff to greet and provide wayfinding to visitors at the new entrance.
    • Hammock Hall provides additional nature programming and education in two multipurpose rooms, with rental space available to further Boyd Hill Nature Preserve’s goal to connect residents and visitors with local flora and fauna.
    • Hammock Hall will enable programming like Climate Change Series, a monthly discussion of the potential impacts of climate change on our area, and Sustainable Sundays, which offers demonstrations on sustainable living and features products available in the gift shop.
  3. Expanded public access
    • The area between the north and the south areas of the preserve, along Lake Maggiore, is now open to the public. The area has undergone ecological restoration and boasts two additional miles of nature trails from the nature center to the new Terry Tomalin Campground. The expansion also houses a new restroom and shelter.
  4. Wetland Restoration
    • The city has entered into a Cooperative Funding Agreement with the Southwest Florida Water Management District to restore hydrology, improve wetland functionality and enhance the ditches that run through the preserve.
    • This restoration project will create a natural stream that will benefit water quality and wildlife.
  5. Additional parking
    • Natural parking has been created at the Environmental Studies Area and Pinellas Pioneer Settlement.

The new campground in Boyd Hill Nature Preserve is named after longtime Tampa Bay Times outdoors editor Terry Tomalin, who died in 2016.

“Terry was a tireless advocate of outdoor leadership, and the important role communing with nature plays in each of our lives. He would be very humbled by this honor and greatly appreciative of the increased access the campgrounds will provide for so many people for such a long time to come,” said Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin about her late husband.

The City of St. Petersburg will host a dedication ceremony to introduce the new Terry Tomalin Campground and enhancement projects at Boyd Hill on Saturday, July 3, from 10:30-12 p.m. at 2900 31st St. S., Gate 1.

Additionally, new features and programming will be introduced:

  • The Rain Garden Demonstration Area will educate visitors on different methods for capturing rainwater that they can implement at home with rain barrels, rain totes, and rain gardens, which help water conservation and improve water quality in local waterways.
  • The Pioneer Garden will teach local residents how to grow organic fruits and vegetables locally. Students from Gibbs High School will maintain and care for the garden each week, and the public will be invited to volunteer in the garden on the first Saturday of each month.
  • The Native Plant Nursery will allow Boyd Hill Nature Preserve staff and volunteers to propagate native plants for use in the preserve and butterfly gardens. Some of the plants will also be distributed to the public during the monthly Native Plant and Seed Swap program and Rainwater Guardian Workshops.

The enhancements at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve were mainly funded by Penny for Pinellas.

For more information, visit or contact the St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation Department at 727-893-7441.

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