Monday, April 4, 2011

State Parks Facing Tough Cuts

With permission from the author,
Ginny Stibolt at the Florida Native Plant Society, 
I am sharing this information about Florida state parks. 
The same thing could happen in any other state. 
Please support the state park system where you live. 
Our world is a better place because of them.

"Here in Florida, we have 160 state parks consisting of more than 700,000 acres. In contrast, Texas boasts "more than 90 state parks." There are various types of parks in Florida such as the underwater parks John Pennekamp Coral Reef State and San Pedro Park; the historical sites such as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historical Park and the Fort Zachary Taylor Historical Park; but most of the parks highlight wonderful natural areas of the "Real Florida" where you can enjoy native plants and animals in their native ecosystems. Our state parks host more than 21 million visitors a year and provide many of the destination sites that bring out-of-state visitors to our state. www.floridastateparks.org

Even though Florida's parks provide beautiful and educational experiences and bring in many tourists, Governor Scott threatened to close many of them to "save money" and then some of our politicians were ready to make a deal with Jack Nicklaus to build golf courses in our state parks. We hear that the golf course plan, even though it has been labeled as "The Worst Idea Ever," is still alive and may still end up as an amendment on a bill during this legislative session.

While the closings haven't happened yet, many of the parks are operating with less staff and much smaller budgets. So what can you do? Visit various your local state parks more often, plan and attend field trips to state parks, bring your out-of-state guests to state parks, tour parks in other areas of the state, and you could make some time to volunteer at a park. Many of Florida's state parks could not succeed without the help of volunteers. In 2008, volunteers contributed more than 1.2 million hours. http://www.floridastateparks.org/getinvolved/default.cfm"