Making parks profitable
State officials seek to allow timber harvesting at Myakka River as a moneymaking effort.
Two years after officials first talked of boosting the moneymaking efforts of the state park system, a pair of parks are finally going to try it.
State officials have proposed allowing timber harvesting in one, Myakka River State Park near Sarasota. They have proposed allowing timber harvesting and cattle grazing in another, Savannas Preserve State Park in Port St. Lucie.
In each case, a draft management plan for the park said those moneymaking uses have now been found to be “compatible with the park’s primary purpose of resource-based outdoor recreation and conservation.”
The two parks are slated to hold public hearings on the proposed changes this week. The Savannas Preserve hearing is tonight, and the Myakka River one is Thursday night.
A Florida Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman said if timber harvesting and cattle grazing are approved, those activities would occur on only a limited basis.
“The Florida Park Service is committed to protecting the lands entrusted to us and will only conduct these activities when they are part of a restoration or maintenance project for the park,” said DEP communications director Lauren Engel. “For example, timber management for thinning or restoration purposes, vegetation removal for ecosystem health and fire control, or cattle grazing in a small overgrown pasture to assist with control of invasive plant species.”
In addition to timber harvesting, the Myakka plan also calls for allowing such commercial activities as the harvesting of stumps and palm or palmetto fronds. The Savannas Preserve plan calls for allowing beekeepers to lease park land for their hives and charging developers to move gopher tortoises to the park so they can