Loaner Optics Program
The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail offers a free loaner optics program at each of our nine gateway sites, and at eighteen additional sites. Sites with the loaner optics program feature a staffed visitor center or office where birders can stop in and borrow a pair of binoculars for free in exchange for a driver's license or credit card which is kept as collateral until the optics are safely returned.
Selected sites in the Panhandle also feature loaner optics trunks with field guides (including Spanish Field Guide - Guía de campo Kaufman a las aves de Norteamérica) and educational materials. We thank the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Kenn Kaufman for their generosity.
Visit the following Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail sites to check out optics:
East Florida Section:
- Fort Clinch State Park (Fernandina Beach) *Gateway
- Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (Titusville) *Gateway
- Tenoroc Fish Management Area (Lakeland) *Gateway
- Highlands Hammock State Park (Sebring)
- Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge (De Leon Springs)
- Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area (Vero Beach)
- Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge (Orchid)
- Silver River State Park (Silver Springs)
West Florida Section:
- Fort De Soto Park (Tierra Verde/St. Petersburg) *Gateway
- Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park (Micanopy/Gainesville) *Gateway
- Ladell Brothers Outdoor Environmental Center (Madison)
- Starkey Wilderness Preserve: Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park (New Port Richey)
Panhandle Florida Section:
- Big Lagoon State Park (Pensacola) *Gateway
- St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge: St. Marks Unit / Headquarters (St. Marks) *Gateway
- Blackwater River State Park (Holt)
- Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park (Niceville)
- Grayton Beach State Park (Point Washington)
- Gulf Islands National Seashore: Fort Pickens Area (Pensacola Beach)
- Henderson Beach State Park (Destin)
- Lynn Haven Sports Complex and Nature Trail (Lynn Haven)
- St. Joseph Peninsula State Park (Port Saint Joe)
- St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge (Port Saint Joe)
- Topsail Hill Preserve State Park (Sandestin) NEW!
- Three Rivers State Park (Sneads)
- Camp Helen State Park (Laguna Beach) NEW!
- Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park (Tallahassee) **Independent loaner optics program
South Florida Section:
- Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge (Boynton Beach) *Gateway
- Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary (Naples) *Gateway
- Green Cay Wetlands and Nature Center (Boynton Beach) **Indepent loaner optics program
The loaner optics program has been operating since the East section opened in 2000, and has been well-received. The optics are very popular and the collateral system has worked well. To date, optics have been generously donated by Eagle Optics, Redfield, Simmons, Weaver, and Pentax. In exchange for promotional opportunities, sponsors are credited on our website and each pair of optics is labeled with a modified "luggage tag." Each label includes the brand logo, brand name and model, size and power specs, features, approximate price, contact website and toll free number. Site staff also use loaner optics for guided walks and educational classes.
An example of a loaner optics trunk with field guides, binoculars, birding calling cards and more!
Ready to take the plunge and purchase optics of your own? Have a look at these GFBWT-approved binoculars available through the Wildlife Foundation of Florida gift store.