Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced over the weekend that plans to privatize portions of Honeymoon Island State Park to turn them into high-impact campsites have been scrapped.
“After seeing the public’s reaction, it is clear that this is not the right time to expand camping at Honeymoon Island State Park,” said Scott in a press release. “These natural treasures belong to all the tax-paying citizens of this state and it would be unfair to proceed with a plan that so many Floridians are so adamantly opposed to.”
Seemingly every Florida lawmaker was opposed to the plan — including state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. Fasano penned letters to both Scott and Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel Vineyard, in which he noted that the proposal “needs more review than it has been given.”
Fasano received a response to his letter, from Vinyard, over the weekend — alerting him to the decision not to move forward with plans at Honeymoon Island.
“One of the most frequent requests our park rangers receive is for additional camping opportunities in state parks,” writes Vinyard. “Indeed, due to the popularity of some sites during holidays or peak camping season, campers have found it difficult to book a camping spot without making reservations months in advance. Regretfully, the Department’s desire to meet the demand and provide this amenity to more Floridians was overshadowed by the timing of the process.”
Vineyard goes on to say that his department recognizes that “adding amenities in state parks should be a citizen-supported effort and should not appear rushed” and that privatization efforts at other state parks will undergo further evaluation.
The Department of Environmental Protection says that it will be “evaluating how to proceed” with the other parks initially considered for expansion, including Edward Ball Wakulla Springs, Fanning Springs and DeLeon Springs.
“Sen. Fasano is pleased that the average citizen, who sometimes feels disenfranchised from their government, was heard loudly and clearly,” says Greg Giordano, Fasano’s chief legislative aide. “He is glad that the natural treasure that is Honeymoon Island will continue to be the pristine environmental jewel that it has been for so many years. Additionally, the state employees who work so hard to keep this state park the wonder that it is don’t have to worry about a company coming in and taking over the duties they do so well.”
View Vinyard’s full letter to Fasano: