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DEP Chief Defends 'Sustainable' State Parks


Governor Rick Scott and the Cabinet voted Wednesday to appoint John Steverson as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. The move came despite protests over his support for logging, cattle grazing and hunting in state parks.

Steverson vowed to hold public hearings and conduct studies, but he said parks need to make money to cover their upkeep. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said that would be, quote, “starting off on the wrong foot.”

‘“They’re not going to be self-sustainable, and what it would take to manage a park to be self-sustainable would be unacceptable.”

Protestors made the same argument. Jean Huffman, a spokeswoman for the group Florida Parks in Peril, came armed with a petition bearing 6,000 signatures.

“The idea that state parks need to raise more and more revenue runs counter to the idea of state parks.”

Steverson said the criticism was premature and described a hunting program that helped a former soldier overcome post-traumatic stress.

“I want to have that conversation, I’m not afraid to have that conversation, but it seems like everyone wants to kill it in the cradle.”

It’s not the first time Steverson has been on the hot seat. He appeared before a Senate committee last year to deny allegations Scott muzzled references to global warming or climate change.

Last year, Steverson was one of a handful of Scott appointees who failed to win Senate confirmation. Despite Wednesday’s action, he faces another Senate vote next year.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.