Bill would waive Florida state park fees for an entire year

Bill would waive Florida state park fees for an entire year

TALLAHASSEE —

Florida is home to some of the nation’s most acclaimed state parks. From beaches to forests, they offer something for everyone.

But exploring the parks isn’t free.

Admission to the state parks range from $1 to $10 per person, but under new legislation, those fees could disappear for an entire year.

A new bill in Tallahassee would waive admission fees to all 174 state parks beginning July 1, 2016. The idea behind the bill is to encourage more people to enjoy the beauty of the Sunshine State’s outdoors.

Conservationists, however, are worried that if the fees go away, the state might look for new ways of raising money, like allowing logging and cattle grazing on state park land.

“There are activities we will do along the way, like logging, that has happened in the parks for over 25 years that will increase and enhance the bottom line,” said Jon Steverson, secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

State park attendance is booming. Every year, more than 25 million people pay a visit to a publicly owned gem, and waving the entrance fees could cause that figure to skyrocket.

Revenues could take a nosedive, though¬†[…]