Florida lawmakers may change Grayton Beach State Park’s name to include former governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham.
Rep. Marti Coley, R-Marianna, and Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, have introduced bills in the House and Senate to rename the park Bob Graham Grayton Beach State Park. The bills mention Graham’s ties to Walton County, and state that the park may not have been expanded without Graham’s efforts.
“I’m a Republican. Bob Graham is a Democrat, but my respect for his service to the people of Florida goes way beyond partisan politics,” Gaetz said.
Graham’s mother was born in Walton County and attended Walton County High School. As a child, Graham spent summers and holidays walking the trails and swimming in the Gulf of Mexico off of Grayton Beach.
“These are my roots,'' Graham said of South Walton County in a 1996 Daily News article. “Daniel Simmons, my grandfather, was from Freeport and a country doctor.''
When he was governor in 1985, Graham supported the state’s purchase of beachfront dunes and forest to add to existing parkland.
“This most valuable addition to the park might never have occurred without Bob Graham’s personal involvement,” the proposed bills read.
Graham now leads a think tank at the University of Florida and occasionally works with lawmakers and testifies on committees.
Gaetz said developing state parks was part of Graham’s legacy as governor.
“His passion for protecting Florida’s environment came from the time he spent at the beach,” Gaetz said.