Department proposed 53 State Park closures

Florida Division of Recreation and Parks got some bad news Wedneday when the Department of Environmental Protection presented the Legislature an unprecedented list of 53 state parks that will be closed, including Fort Mose in St. Augustine.

The proposed closings will likely become reality if the departments are ordered to reduce their budgets by 15%.

In a year when the state faces a nearly $4B shortfall, this is apt to be more than just an exercise; and with the high proportion of freshman members, there is less familiarity with the importance of Florida’s environmental programs.

The selections were made from state parks which garner the least attendance and do not have camping — despite being economic engines in some of Florida’s smallest and most rural communities.

Wednesday in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Committee, members seemed concerned but not willing to simply remove these cuts from the table. One suggested these lands should be sold to put them back on county tax rolls. Another suggested enlisting cash-strapped local governments to manage them. A third suggested closing them “except on weekends.”

The list of 53 proposed park closures:

Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park, Haines City
Atlantic Ridge Preserve State Park, Stuart
Big Shoals State Park, White Springs
Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park, Flagler Beach
Camp Helen State Park, Panama City Beach
Cedar Key State Museum State Park, Cedar Key
Colt Creek State Park, Lakeland
Constitution Convention Museum State Park, Port St. Joe
Crystal River Archaeological State Park, Crystal River
Dade Battlefield Historic State Park, Bushnell
Dagny Johsnon Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park, Key Largo
Deer Lake State Park, Santa Rosa Beach
Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, Gainesville
Don Pedro Island State Park, Boca Granda
Dudley Farm Historic State Park, Newberry
Dunn’s Creek State Park, Pomona
Estero Bay Preserve State Park, Estero
Fort Cooper State Park, Inverness
Fort George Island Cultural State Park, Jacksonville
Fort Mose Historic State Park, St. Augustine
John Gorrie Museum State Park, Apalachicola
Judah P. Benjamin Confederate Memorial at Gamble Plantation Historic State Park, Ellenton
Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park, Tallahassee
Lake June-in-Winter Scrub State Park, Sebring
Lake Talquin State Park, Tallahassee
Letchworth-Love Mounds Archaeological State Park, Tallahassee
Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park, Islamorada
Madison Blue Spring State Park, Lee
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park, Cross Creek
Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park, Woodville
Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park, Olustee
Orman House Historic State Park, Apalachicola
Paynes Creek Historic State Park, Bowling Green
Peacock Springs State Park, Luraville
Perdido Key State Park, Pensacola
Ponce de Leon Springs State Park, Ponce de Leon
Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park, Jacksonville
Rock Springs Run State Reserve, Sorrento
San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park, Alachua
San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park, St. Marks
Savannas Preserve State Park, Jensen Beach
St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park, Stuart
St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park, Fellsmere
Suwannee River Wilderness Trail/Nature and Heritage Tourism Center, White Springs
Terra Ceia Preserve State Park, Palmetto
The Barnacle Historic State Park, Coconut Grove
Troy Spring State Park, Branford
Wacasassa Bay Preserve State Park, Cedar Key
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park, Palm Coast
Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park, Port Richey
Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park, Islamorada
Ybor City Museum State Park, Tampa
Yellow River Marsh Preserve State Park, Holt

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