News-Journal file/Nigel Cook
Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, where the manatees are a crowd favorite, actually pulls in more revenues than it costs to run the park, and Florida’s park system overall ranks high nationally in a comparison of revenues vs. expenses.
The concept sounded good to some: Make Florida’s state parks pay for themselves. But Jon Steverson, the state’s top environmental official, has faced a firestorm of controversy since he started talking about it earlier this year.
Parks advocates statewide have rallied to protest the proposal and money-making measures being considered, including hunting and additional cattle grazing and timber harvesting in state parks. They mounted a letter-writing campaign to try to prevent the Florida Cabinet from confirming Steverson as secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. They started petitions and expect nearly 400 people to attend a planned statewide parks summit in Orlando in October.