Times Staff Writer
Every Florida state park is now being considered as a potential killing field.
A checklist that park planners use in reviewing what can be allowed in Florida’s park system now calls for adding hunting as a possible activity.
Initially the “hunting” category was only for the larger parks, according to former Department of Environmental Protection park planner Enid Ehrbar. But three weeks ago, she said, the planners were told to apply it to each of the state’s 161 parks.
That means it would include not just Hillsborough River State Park in Thonotosassa, but also beachfront and bayfront parks like Honeymoon Island State Park near Dunedin and Cockroach Bay Preserve State Park near Ruskin. Even the Ybor City Museum State Park would have to face the question of whether hunters could find something to shoot there.
“It’s an outrage,” Frank Jackalone of the Sierra Club said Thursday. “It’s shocking that they would pervert the meaning of our state parks that way.”
Created in 1935, the parks system is intended to preserve unique portions of Florida’s natural landscape. Hunting hardly fits with that mission, say parks advocates.
But DEP Secretary Jon Steverson, whom Gov. Rick Scott appointed to lead the DEP last year, is trying to make the parks pay for themselves by adding in previously banned activities.
He has said that parks pay only 77 percent of their expenses, and he wants that number to be 100 percent.
In March, he told a state legislative committee that he wanted to make the parks pay for themselves by adding timber harvesting, cattle grazing and other money-making activities[…]