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Gov. Rick Scott again pursuing stealth attack on state parks [View All]

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-27-11 10:09 PM
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Gov. Rick Scott again pursuing stealth attack on state parks
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Under the radar attack on state parks

St. Petersburg Times
June 28, 2011

Displaying contempt for the public and the environment, Gov. Rick Scott's Department of Environmental Protection has provided only scant notice of its plan to turn over portions of up to 56 state parks to private corporations to build and run campgrounds. As early as next week, the department could decide to move forward on four parks, including Honeymoon Island State Park in Pinellas County. Such radical policy changes affecting some of the state's most prized natural assets deserve far more public vetting and consideration.

It appears that DEP's Division of Recreation and Parks learned a lesson earlier this year from state Sen. John Thrasher. When Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, brashly floated a plan to turn over several state parks to build a Jack Nicklaus golf trail, the former House speaker was forced to retreat quickly in the wake of public outrage. The parks division has made no such pronouncement, launching the bold initiative mostly outside the public's view, not unlike how DEP abruptly scuttled conservation land buys at water management districts and forced out their managers.

Earlier this month, the division won approval, 7-2, from DEP's Acquisition and Restoration Council, a little-noticed advisory group, to expedite the planning process to create more private concessions at the 56 state parks. But this is more than privatizing snack bars, canoe rentals or gift shops. It's about turning over portions of state parks to private enterprises to build and run campgrounds, often in environmentally sensitive locations that are already being heavily utilized by day visitors.


Generations of Floridians and their tax dollars have built one of the best state park systems in the country. DEP's curiously quiet campaign to abruptly change that system is reckless. The parks division should slow down and make its case to the public that swaths of unspoiled public parks should be turned into commercial profit centers filled with RVs.

March 10, 2011:

We've already seen these thieves at the gate.

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