In a letter released today, state Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, joined state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, in his opposition to the Scott administration’s plan to privatize portions of state parks for use as high-impact camp and RV sites.
The letter, addressed to Gov. Scott and state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel Vinyard, Dockery says she is “adamantly opposed” to the proposition and says it is not a decision that “follow the intent of the Florida Forever Act.”
Dockery also asks: Does the approval of high-impact campgrounds even fall within the mission of the Acquisition and Restoration Council?
From the letter:
This council was created by the Florida Forever legislation that I passed in 1999. The legislative intent was that the ARC be a group that first and foremost is a good steward of the conservation lands acquired with Florida tax dollars. The appointees are entrusted to identify lands for purchase and approve management plans for those lands. Their primary goal is to preserve the natural resources on Florida’s public lands and the flora and fauna on those lands while allowing public access within the parameters of protecting those resources. Florida State Parks belong to all citizens of our great state.
Dockery writes that her father volunteers at Honeymoon Island, one of the parks slated to be affected by the proposal. According to him and his neighbors, friends and fellow volunteers, the decision “is not going to be a politically popular [one] and it certainly is not a policy‐based decision that follows the legislative intent of the Florida Forever Act.”
The proposal to privatize portions of state parks to appears to be financially motivated, with the rationale that increased campsites would mean increased revenue. But Dockery says that “nature-based resources” increase Florida’s tourism.
“In these tough economic times when many families don’t have the disposable income to visit expensive tourist attractions,” writes Dockery, “this is not only an environmental issue; it is an economic issue as well. Florida is a state that relies heavily on tourism, and eco‐ tourism has been the silver‐lining.”
Read Dockery’s full letter: