All the employees for the Florida Park Service got an email the other day detailing 22 state parks that will close. They say temporary, until the state budget improves. So when will that happen?
My idea is: why don't they just raise the entrance rate a dollar? If we had 19 million visitors last year, that would more than make up for the 10 percent budget shortfall that they are predicting. And they are very inexpensive to visit to begin with. The camping could go up a few dollars too, because rising utility costs have really hit the parks hard.
If you close the parks and put them in caretaker status, they will bring in no money, but still have some bills to pay. The artifacts in the museums will just rot without climate control. If they are open, you are at least bringing in a few bucks.
Here is the abridged version from the email. (It's public record sent out to all the employees, so I am not breaking any rules posting it here.) I shortened it, because not all of it will be of interest to everyone, unless you are a park employee.
In order to reduce the Division of Recreation and Park's statewide expenditures by 10 percent, a spending reduction plan was developed which includes, among other measures, the temporary closure of 19 state parks until the state's economy improves and revenues return to normal levels. Temporarily closed parks would be placed into a "caretaker" status until they can be re-opened.
The 19 parks that have been identified for temporary closure are:
o Yellow River Marsh Preserve State Park
o St. Marks River State Park
o Lake June-In-Winter Scrub State Park
o Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park
o Constitution Convention Museum State Park
o John Gorrie Museum State Park
o Deer Lake State Park
o Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park
o Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park
o Terra Ceia Preserve State Park
o Letchworth-Love Mounds Archaeological State Park
o Dunns Creek State Park
o San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park
o Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park
o Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park
o Dudley Farm Historic State Park
o Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park
o Florida Nature and Heritage Tourism Center
o Cedar Key Museum State Park
In addition to the 19 parks listed above, the spending reduction plan calls for the Division to return management of three state parks, which are not owned by the State of Florida, to their owners for future management.
The three properties to be returned to their owners are:
o Three Rivers State Park (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)
o Forest Capital Museum State Park (Taylor County)
o Egmont Key State Park (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services)
Half of these parks mentioned are historical parks.
Two Indian mounds: Terra Ceia and Letchworth Mounds.
Four are Seminole War-era sites: John Gorrie Museum, Constitution Museum, San Marcos de Apalache, and Cedar Key Museum. Five if you count Egmont Key, but the remaining structures there are Spanish American War.
Kissimmee Prairie is confusing to me, because it does have a campground that brings in people, especially in the winter. They still have to do resource management of the property, and it is the only place in the state where you will find the grasshopper sparrow. So it still needs to be maintained.
I worry a lot about the Forest Capital Museum, because county governments recently have treated their historical museums like bastard step-children. The Seminole County Museum is one example. And since the three-county area of Taylor, Dixie, and Lafayette Counties have no historical museums, then it shows that they don't really care about having any. Just my honest opinion!