We had a wonderful weekend at the reenactment at Fort Cooper. I really love that park, and the event went wonderfully, as it usually does. I didn't find any ticks on me this time, like other people did. Either they will wait for later and are hiding in my reenactment gear. Or my blood stream carries too many insecticides and herbicides to make it unpalatable for them.
I will post some photos of the event in the next few days. My camera doesn't work with my slow Windows 98 computer, so I have to wait until I can get to a more advanced computer to download it onto a disk.
The budget ax is threatening the state parks in Florida with huge cuts. Word is that they will eliminate all the OPS employees, which are part-time employees that don't receive benefits. Bad news for the parks, because the state has a lot of those positions nowadays. In the parks, they are the toll collectors or the guy who mows the grass. Or the people who clean the cabins after they were trashed by the pervious campers. And some rangers. It would hurt us, because our OPS lawn mowing guy is the hardest working person that I have ever known.
Then they will reduce the full-time positions. Many parks have been reduced the past three years, and reducing more will mean that they don't have enough people for the work they have. The number they are talking about would equal about one person per park. But with many parks that only have three full-time employees, they would really be hurt. And with the OPS elimination, that would reduce some parks by half, or even more.
Another proposal is to close all the parks that do not have camping. That's half the parks in the state. When I was at Fort Cooper this weekend, they were worried that they would be closed. They have a park manager and 2.5 rangers. (One is only part-time.) They don't have camping. But it is one of the prettiest parks that I think I have ever been at. And one of the few parks that tells the story of the Seminole wars. It is a wonderful park for the local area. And they have a lot of flying squirrels, which is another reason that it is among my favorites.
But all these cuts are still proposals. Whether they will happen or not, we won't know for certain until July, when the new budgets are announced. So if you write your state legislator, it would go far to keep the parks open and staffed with rangers. And send a postal letter, because that is what they respond to the best. They get plenty of emails, and those are easily deleted.
Other states have faced the same situation, but have been saved when the citizens of the state voiced their support of the parks. I don't know the whole situation going on in Tallahassee, but our award winning park system needs support. Attendance has only gone up in the past few years. They could even raise the fees a dollar or two to make up the shortfall, and I think everyone will understand. Please don't let us loose some of the nicest parks in the southeast.