Opening of Terry Tomalin Campground in Boyd Hill

Photo courtesy of the City of Saint Petersburg.

A new campground at Boyd Hill Nature Park will honor Terry Tomalin, popular outdoor editor at the Tampa Bay Times and assistant professor at USF St. Petersburg, who died of a heart attack in 2016.

At the St. Petersburg City Council meeting on June 3, the council celebrated the completion of the new Terry Tomalin Campground, the city’s first campground open to individuals. Friends and family were on hand to talk about Tomalin and his commitment to involving everyone, especially children, in nature and the outdoors.

“I grew up with stories of his adventures.” said Kai Tomalin, recalling his father’s tales of hiking in the Australian deserts, rock climbing and kayaking in the South Pacific Ocean.

But with all the far and exotic travel, Kai said her dad always pointed out that there are great adventures here in our own backyard.

“By Odin’s beard, I hear my dad every day and I will continue to hear him,” said Kai, “He would be proud to be part of a community that makes adventure accessible in our city. “

Others fondly remembered Tomalin as a friend and his dedication to his Boy Scout troop. Mayor Rick Kriseman spoke from the public gallery to praise Tomaln’s writing talent, 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 alone in the ten thousand islands, and she said her boy scout troop “was an Eagle Scout factory”.

She added that it was “an honor to have the city’s first campground named in her honor.”

Head and shoulders of a man wearing a black sweater with his arms crossed in front of a colored background.
Terry Tomalin. Photo courtesy of USF St. Petersburg.

Boyd Hill Improvements

The new Terry Tomalin Campground includes 12 individual primitive sites for a public camping area on the 245-acre nature reserve, as well as a “recreation and education center that will help serve the vision of the city to educate and inspire young people and adults to become conservationists, practices and conservation.

The campsite is now accessible to all those who wish to enjoy nature near their home, as Tomalin, who was camping there with his scout troop, would have liked.

“When people think of Saint Petersburg, they think of our beautiful waterfront, our sunny weather and our excellent museums” said Mike Jefferis of St. Petersburg Recreation Services. “We also have exceptional parks and reserves, and Boyd Hill Nature Preserve is an exciting experience to immerse yourself in nature. “

In a city press release, Jefferis added, “This is a major renovation of an area of ​​the reserve that has never been open to the public before. You don’t have to be an environmentalist or have a passion for the outdoors to take advantage of these new amenities; curiosity is all you need.

The first phase of the campground can accommodate 12 primitive tent sites, each with a picnic table and fire pit. The campsites have been created from natural openings in the wooded area in order to minimize the environmental impact and to maximize the privacy of the campers. A second phase will create 12 additional campsites.

An outdoor photo of a dwarf palm field with pine trees and a blue sky.
Photo courtesy of the City of Saint Petersburg.

Hammock Hall and other new features

Hammock Hall, the new 3,131 square foot visitor and education center, is located in a new main entrance to the Environmental Studies Area, near the Gate 2 entrance along 31st St. S. A 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 about its impacts in our region, as well as other programs promoting sustainable practices.

Other projects include two demonstration gardens and wetland restoration, in partnership with Southwest Water Management, which will result in the creation of a stream crossing the reserve.

The City of St. Petersburg will hold a groundbreaking ceremony to showcase the new Terry Tomalin Campground and improvement 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 information, visit or call 727-893-7441.

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