Sierra Club plans Saturday protest against more state attacks on parks

click to enlarge A stretch of riverfront in Hillsborough River State Park, where a pro-environmental conservation rally is set to be held. - wknight94/Wikimedia Commons
wknight94/Wikimedia Commons
A stretch of riverfront in Hillsborough River State Park, where a pro-environmental conservation rally is set to be held.

To help raise awareness of what they say are short-sighted, special interest-pandering environmental policies at the state level, environmental activists are planning demonstrations in state parks throughout Florida, including Hillsborough River State Park.

Given that it's the day before Valentine's Day, they titled the event "Have a Heart, Save Our Parks."

"On Saturday, February 13, Support our state parks against attempts to turn them into profit centers for timber harvesting, hunting, cattle grazing, oil drilling and more," reads a an invitation to the event, which is open to the public.

To environmentalists, Florida's approach to land conservation couldn't be more Hiaasen-esque if Carl Hiaasen had dreamed it up it himself.

First, there was Governor Rick Scott's pitch that literally would have made it legal to install golf courses, resort facilities and all, in state parks, something the Tampa Bay Times called the "worst idea in history."

Since then, there's an effort to allow hunting, logging and even drilling in state parks.

A bill in the state legislature that the Gainesville Sun called "another assault on our parks" is moving forward in Tallahassee. The bill would, among other things, allow residents to buy adjacent public lands if they promise not to develop anymore on the land they currently own.

It would also apply money from Amendment 1 — which voters overwhelmingly approved in 2014 as a means of setting aside money to buy up and protect public lands — to the purchase of water pumping, treatment and transport from freshwater sources in north Florida down to rapidly developing areas in Central Florida. (Never mind the health or environmental impacts of sapping a population's local water supply.)

"This is another bad piece of environmental legislation undoubtedly being pushed by big business special interests," wrote the Sun's editorial board.

The Hillsborough event starts Saturday at 10 a.m.

For information on actions in other states, visit www.savefloridaparks.org.

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