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DEP closing 53 state parks?

The Department of Environmental Protection has proposed closing 53 of its 160 state parks, among other cutbacks in services, should the agency be required to slash 15 percent of its budget this year.

DEP's proposal, which would save about $47 million, was presented at Wednesday's House Agriculture and Natural Resources Approproations Subcommittee (look at pages 37-40). The proposals have become a common exercise for agencies amid the state's recent lean years.

Closing state parks with the lowest attendance and no camping facilities would save a quick $6.5 million, DEP said, but that would also mean the end of recurring revenues from those spaces. Here's a list of the parks, which includes Tampa's Ybor City Museum State Park and Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park in Islamorada.

Naturally, Audobon of Florida is not a fan. “These may be the least-visited state parks, but they are often a substantial contributor to Florida’s smallest and most rural communities,” wrote Julie Wraithmell, the group's wildlife conservation director, in a Friday news release. "Florida state parks also provide an outstanding, affordable recreational opportunity to Florida’s families—all the more important in the current economy.” 

Fortunately for Audobon, neither is Rep. Trudi Williams, the subcommittee's Republican chairwoman from Fort Myers. Here's the chairwoman's e-mail to Naked Politics:

“With a 4 billion dollar budget shortfall, times are tough in the state of Florida. While I applaud DEP for their willingness to explore all avenues as a means to decrease our spending, I think that it is far too premature to conclude that 53 state parks will be closed in an effort retain an estimated 6.5 million dollars. When you consider the income that these parks bring in to the state and the quality of life that they afford our citizens, I would hope that there are other means in which we can responsibly cut back.  It should be noted that this proposal was made by agency staff and before Secretary Vinyard was appointed, and therefore the priorities of Secretary Vinyard may not be reflec

Comments

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ab

Audubon is misspelled.

George Fuller

Typical government move when threatened with cutbacks.

They always take the most needy (fire/police) to cut back on to scare people.......

In this case take away what the citizens enjoy....

Scott is a Crook

This is the most abominable thing this Unethical administration has proposed to so far.
This governor who has only live in the state for 4 years and cannot contemplate the connection native Floridians have to their natural environment. Restricting access and letting natural public spaces degrade, because that is what will happen to them if they are not used, is the most despicable concept of environmental responsibility. Floridians have preserved these spaces long before TRick Scott moved to OUR state and decided to but his governorship.

Scott is a Crook

That was BUY not but his govship

Nobody

If this proposed cutback is accepted and the 53 parks close..what will happen to the land? Will it be sold for development or maintained by the state until hopefully the economy turns around? Most all of our state parks are on the most beautiful, untouched property in this state.....it's the only way Floridians or visitors can connect with the natural beauty and abundant resources that Florida once held. What will happen to the employees that maintain these parks? Will they be laid off or reassigned?

Margaret VE

If Governor Scott wants the tourists to come to Florida, the state parks must not close! We have the most beautiful parks in our state, and if they are closed, who will take care of them? The parks will become overgrown with vegetation, not to mention other catastrophies. This would definitely be a slap in the tax payer's face to close down "their" parks!

someone who cares

I am completely speechless over this i love my state parks i write that in the log book every time my family goes to one of them. I was taken to some of these parks as a child and now my family and i go and enjoy this truly beautiful place we live in.

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