Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

DEP Leader Reappointed despite Critics | Jon Steverson Advocated Commercial Activity on Some State Park Land

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

DEP Leader Reappointed despite Critics | Jon Steverson Advocated Commercial Activity on Some State Park Land

Article excerpt

FLORIDA CABINET

TALLAHASSEE -- Jon Steverson, who has been sharply criticized by environmentalists for advocating cattle grazing and other commercial activities on state park land, was unanimously reappointed Wednesday to head the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Steverson and Rick Swearingen, who was also reappointed Wednesday as commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, failed to get Senate approval of their original appointments in the spring, forcing Gov. Rick Scott and the three other Cabinet members to reappoint them.

Steverson was questioned by Cabinet members about the DEP's plans to make Florida's parks "self-sustaining," allowing some parks to be used for cattle grazing, timbering and hunting. Steverson defended the developing plan, saying it had been mischaracterized by critics as a proposal to commercialize and privatize the parks.

"I am in no way intending to harm the parks," Steverson said.

But he said the DEP is exploring those uses on a "park by park basis," including a plan to allow more than 300 cattle to graze on 6,500 acres of the Myakka River State Park, although any specific plans involving more than 160 acres would be subject to public hearings and a review by the DEP's Acquisition and Restoration Council.

In the spring, Steverson testified before the Legislature that Florida's award-winning parks attracted some 27 million visitors last year, although the revenue from the parks only paid for 77 percent of their upkeep. He said the agency's goal was to make the parks economically self-sustaining by allowing some revenue- generating activities, such as grazing and logging.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam advised Steverson to realign his strategy for the parks, saying he was starting "off on the wrong foot" by saying the parks should be self-sustaining rather than talking about "multiple-use management plans" for the parks that could include some things like cattle grazing and logging "where appropriate based on the ecosystem, based on the landscape. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.