Tallahassee needs a walk in the woods before sullying state parks

Should Rick Scott want to quietly contemplate his recent ranking as one of America’s least-liked governors, he could always take a walk in a park. One of Florida’s award-winning state parks, perhaps.

Gov. Not-From-Here could kayak a shoreline or traipse a boardwalk through a hammock, maybe spotting a scrub jay here, a black racer snaking through the underbrush over there. He could look across waves of sawgrass and see otter and alligators. Maybe he’d be amazed.

Then again, maybe not.

In what appears to be a continuing threat to the very purpose of preserving park land, the Scott administration continues to imply that their focus is more about income than ecology. The Times‘ Craig Pittman reports that the newest deputy secretary in charge of state lands and parks for the Department of Environmental Protection — Gary F. Clark — is neither a biologist nor a man with any experience with the state. Turns out he’s a guy with a business degree who owns and runs what’s touted as “Northwest Florida’s premier bobwhite quail hunting preserve.”

Which has supporters of our parks and the purity of their purpose understandably concerned that this hiring could help pave the way for some very bad ideas percolating out there.

Like opening parks to hunting.

Hunting is only one of the nifty money-making ideas — including allowing timber harvesting and cattle grazing — proposed by Jon Steverson, Scott’s newest secretary of the Department of Environmental Exploitation, excuse, me, Protection.

The Times previously reported than in a review of every state park in Florida, the possibility of hunting was required as a consideration.

This absurdity of this makes you wonder: Are we talking hunters stalking the elusive gopher tortoise on beautiful Honeymoon Island? Maybe a rooster shoot of the proud fowl that strut through Tampa’s busy entertainment district at the Ybor City Museum, also a state park?

Hey, you can’t get too creative when it comes to making money, right?Tallahassee needs a walk in the woods before sullying state parks[…]