There has been a lot of talk recently about one-third of the Florida State Parks closing.
Here are some articles on the subject:
Don't Sell Florida's Soul--TBO Editorial
DEP Proposes to Close 53 State Parks--Audubon of Florida editorial
Our greatest supporter here seems to be the Audubon Society.
Below: Separated at birth?
The truth is that we do not know if this will happen or not. It seems like each year it is talked about. This time it seems more certain than previous. The governor will unveil his budget proposal on February 7th, so I guess we will find out then.
Below: The new governor has seemed evasive. It is certainly a mystery on what he intends to do with the state parks.
All the parks that I enjoy to visit are on this list. Dade Battlefield, Fort Cooper, Cedar Key, Crystal River Mounds, ect. In fact, almost all the historic and archaeology parks are on the hit list. It will be a very bad blow to history. It tells me that maybe our state legislators do not care about our history and parks.
There are some on the list that I would be surprised to see closed, like Washington Oaks. It is a very popular botanical park near St. Augustine.
The insanity of closing them is clear. Each park has an economic impact on the surrounding community. It is said that because of the park where I work, it creates about 42 jobs around the area, and about 4 millions dollars put into the surrounding businesses that people spend on their visits to the park.
And there are three parks they want to give to other agencies, like Egmont Key. These other agencies are unable and unwilling to take over these parks right now. They would be passing off one white elephant to another cash-strapped agency. It looks like they are just passing the buck and not really saving the tax payers money.
And if they close the parks, would it also shut down the volunteer groups? I have not heard anyone mention that, but I would think it is a very serious issue. Not only would you close the park, but you would be killing off the local volunteer group that helps many parks stay open and operate. Some volunteer groups have been life savers to many parks that are short of personnel and operating funds. Has anyone considered how important this is?
Just keep in mind, that almost all events and festivals in most state parks are run by the volunteer organizations. All our reenactments that I know about.
I don't know what the ultimate answer is. I would tell people that if they have a favorite park, to join the citizen support group. The state would very hard pressed to close a park that has a volunteer group of 500 strong, as opposed to a few individuals. From what I heard at the meeting at Dade Battlefield during the last reenactment, they were encouraging all the reenactors to join the DB Society. Do you now see why this is important?