Paynes Prairie in danger

From: Rex Rowan <>
To: Alachua County birding report

You may have read in the papers that Governor Scott is encouraging private business to rent our State Parks for grazing cattle or growing trees. Myakka River was first, but Paynes Prairie is now in the sights. Cattle ranch owners have already been invited to government meetings to discuss setting aside part of the Prairie for grazing cattle. Whether or not you support Governor Scott on other issues, you will hopefully agree that this is a misuse of our park system. Forbidding certain sectors of publicly-owned land to the general public, while allowing a small subset of the public to use those sectors for individual profit, is not what the State Parks were created for, but it seems to be what the current administration has in mind.

Jim Stevenson, the retired Chief Naturalist of the State Park system (not to be confused with the cat-shooting Jim Stevenson of Galveston, Texas), has sketched out the strategy that Governor Scott, his appointees, and like-minded legislators have mapped out in order to achieve this end. Here is Jim’s view of “The Big Picture”:
A few years ago, Governor Scott’s previous DEP Secretary told his deputy secretary that he wanted to privatize the entire state park system. The deputy advised against it, knowing there would be a huge public outcry.

The current game plan to reach that goal:

1. Exploit the natural resources through hunting, cattle grazing and timbering which will require “private” contractors and further crush morale of the park service staff.

2. Starve the parks by eliminating more staff and funding each year including professional biologists and education staff. DEP has recommended cutting 209 park service positions during the Scott administration. Instead, the Legislature cut 78 positions.

3. In the absence of adequate staff and funding, the parks won’t be able to get their job done.

4. Gov. Scott increases “Free Days” which reduces revenue while park managers are struggling to increase revenue.

5. The parks’ facilities and resources will deteriorate and the politicians will criticize the poor management.

6. Since the park service will not been able to maintain the resources, DEP is justified to “privatize the state park system.” Of course government should be run like a business.

End Game is achieved.

“The first sign of tyranny is government’s complicity in privatizing the commons for private gain.” Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

The future of Florida’s state parks depends on your apathy or your action. It is your choice.
That’s the end of Jim’s statement.

It’s important to remember that the Park Service is not a willing participant in this process. The Park Service is under attack. It’s our job to stand with them against Governor Scott and his allies. Emails and phone calls to the governor and cabinet members will be helpful in stopping this anti-park, anti-nature, anti-human-being plan from becoming reality. Take a few minutes to call or email at the numbers and addresses given below and tell them what you think of their plans for Paynes Prairie right now. Communication with the cabinet – Bondi, Atwater, and Putnam – is particularly important, since they’re not getting along so well with Governor Scott right now.

Governor Rick Scott (850) 488-7146 or

Attorney General Pam Bondi (850) 414-3300 or

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater (850) 413-2850 or

Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam (850) 488-3022 or

Senator Rob Bradley (904) 278-2085 or (Click on “Email this Senator)

Representative Keith Perry (352) 264-4040 or

Representative Clovis Watson (352) 264-4001 or