Jon Steverson was unanimously approved as Secretary of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection a position he has held on an interim basis since he was originally appointed to the position by Gov. Rick Scott (R) in December 2014. His appointment was approved by a unanimous vote of the entire cabinet.
Steverson was reappointed despite controversy surrounding his proposals to use private contractors to manage parks and to allow grazing, hunting and timber harvesting in some parks. Steverson would have Florida’s parks follow the example of some other states that allow hunting and limited commercial activities like logging and energy production in their parks to offset the costs of, or improve funding for, their operations.
Steverson argues while he’s committed to protecting parks, he wants to maximize their ability to make money and become self-sustaining, allowing them to improve and expand their performance during good budgetary times, while buffering them from program cuts during economic downturns when the state might consider cutting environmental programs and park budgets.
“It seems like everybody is ready to kill it in the cradle,” Steverson said to Governing.com. “I am in no way trying to harm the parks.”
Steverson, for example, has proposed leasing 6,500 acres of land in the Myakka River State Park to cattle grazing companies. He says criticism hasn’t changed his plan to seek public hearings on revenue-raising ventures.
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., ([email protected]) is the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.