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County creates audio tours app to help explore parks and preserves


By Sofia Celis Avellaneda

As Hillsborough County and the Tampa area grows, the places around it grow more and more along with technology. There is so much we don’t know about the parks around us and the history behind them. In 2022, technology occupies a very important place in life. Especially with COVID-19, there are a lot of things we need to do on computers and phones to stay safe. Recently, a new online application created by Hillsborough County Conservation & Environmental Lands Management has emerged that could help: audio tours.

According to Ashley Martin, “The idea was born when we were unable to run face-to-face tours and hikes during COVID, but we still wanted to provide our guests with a guided hiking experience.”

This app is called Hillsborough FL Nature Tours which can be downloaded in the App Store and Google Play Store. This app works in parks, with QR codes to get you into the park where you are as well as outside the parks at home by simply opening the app.

Martin said, “You can listen to the audio of any of the tours from the comfort of your home to experience the parks even when you can’t visit, learn about local ecology and history…”

As a new coming app, many updates are coming. Currently, the company only has 14 parks that you can view on the app.

The 14 parks are Alderman’s Ford Conservation Park, Alafia River Corridor South Nature Preserve, Apollo Beach Nature Preserve, Bahia Beach Nature Preserve, Bell Creek Nature Preserve, Blackwater Creek Nature Preserve, Edward Medard Conservation Park, Golden Aster Scrub Nature Preserve, Lake Frances Nature Preserve, Lake Park Nature Preserve, Lettuce Lake Conservation Park, Lower Green Swamp Nature Preserve, Triple Creek Nature Preserve, and Upper Tampa Bay Conservation Park.

In the future, he wants to add more parks and bring more areas of Florida into his app.

Another update from Martin was “…to add videos for ‘virtual’ trail rides or we may one day use the app to feature our newsletter – The Trailblazer – or upcoming events like in-person hikes, paddles and festivals.”

In addition to adding new features, since not everyone speaks English, the county is working on adding a translation feature so the audio tours can be in both English and Spanish. Right now, he’s listening to his audience and taking in as much feedback as he can.

For more information, please contact Martin at [email protected]