Last week I saw the call go out on Facebook that Dade Battlefield was in danger of closing, and for everyone to write letters of support to keep it open.
This has happened twice in the past few years with the state parks. This time, I was curious to know more about it, because I had not heard the news, like in the past. Nothing in the newspapers, and no talk from other park folks. Maybe it has been out there, but I am living down the everglades with no tv/dish/cable.
So I asked a few sources that I have. Yes, there is a plan to close about 60 state parks. (There are currently 160 state parks.) And unfortunately for us, most of these are our historic parks like Dade Battlefield, Constitution Museum, John Gorrie House, and others. These are my favorite places as well. Places that I go when I want to get away from my park: i.e., uncrowded.
And, this is not the only scenario possible. It might not happen. But from the indications that I am getting, it sounds more likely. And it is possible that the state will have no choice this time but to close some of the parks.
And we really do need very substantial support. Or budgets and staff have been cut every year for the past five years. So much now, that we can’t even afford to do basic repairs. We have no money to buy the U-joint that gave out on our 4x4. Our tractor hydraulic system is shot. An old electrical box caught fire the other day and the parts that need replacement are not made anymore, so it will require extensive rebuilding.
Because of the recent election, I know that several of you developed a dislike for Governor Crist. But he was a big supporter of our parks, and we stayed open. I have seen nothing to indicate that we will get the same treatment from the new governor; it looks more like the opposite.
If Dade Battlefield was in danger of closing or not, it is good that everyone supports it. I encourage support for any of the parks that invite us over every year to have our events.
But you will have to go a step further. You need to show your support more than just letter writing. It has to be more concrete. The best way to do that is to become a member of the Friends of the Dade Battlefield Society. Show your support as a member. This goes far for supporting the park. The state is more likely to keep the park open if it has a citizen support group of 500 members, than if it only has 10.
And your membership will also put in $10 or $20 to support next year’s event. If enough people do that, it will pay for your meals and black powder. That way you are not being charged to come to next year’s event. You are putting your support behind the park in a very concrete way. It is an investment for the park to survive and stay open another year.