Latest DEP budget proposal to cut State park hours, jobs

March 27, 2009

A trail to the beach at Camp Helen. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
A trail to the beach at Camp Helen. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Deer Lake, Camp Helen and Ponce de Leon Springs park hours would be affected

Last week the Department of Environmental Protection was asked to submit a 20 percent budget reduction to the Legislature. This budget reduction proposal does not call for the closure of any state parks, but does propose a reduction in the days and hours of operation at 58 state parks. Nineteen of those 58 are the 19 that last fall were considered for temporary closure.

The proposed cuts would also result in the loss of a total of 85 full time employees from field staff and 20 full time employees from the main and district offices.

The reduced days and hours of operation would result in an estimated savings of more than $2.2 million.

Path at Deer Lake. Lori Ceier/
Path at Deer Lake State Park. Lori Ceier/

Local State Parks slated for reduction in hours:

Deer Lake State ParkWalton
Camp Helen State Park
Ponce de Leon Springs State Park

The Department is also considering adjustments to park fees, however no steps have been taken to implement any fee changes. In the event that any fee adjustments are made, the Department will take all necessary steps to notify the public.

“Florida is currently facing an unprecedented economic crisis. Reducing expenditures throughout the agency is a difficult task — and one that we do not take lightly. At this point, the proposal to reduce the days and hours of operation at 58 state parks is just that — a proposal. The Legislature will consider the proposals made by the agency and may also develop budget reduction measures of their own,” said Amy Graham, Public Information Officer of the Department of Environmental Protection.

The Department also recommend that the three non-state owned parks be transferred to their property owners for management, those three parks include:

·  Three Rivers State Park- Jackson County (Owned by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)
·  Forest Capital Museum State Park- Taylor County (Owned by Taylor County)
·  Egmont Key State Park- Pinellas County (Owned by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services)

Click for PDF of State park hour reduction list