Jack Latvala is saying “no way” to hunting at Honeymoon Island State Park.
On Tuesday, the Clearwater Republican state senator sent a letter to Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Jon Steverson asking him to remove Pinellas County’s Honeymoon Island State Park from a list of potential locations for hunting.
This week, Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times reported that the DEP – to generate revenue – is considering permitting hunting at all 161 state parks in Florida.
Honeymoon Island is a beachfront Park just outside Dunedin, a heavily populated area in the heart of Latvala’s Senate District 20. Steverson, who had not said specifically “hunting” to lawmakers, did indicate he wanted the parks to be 100 percent financially self-sufficient, as opposed to the 77 percent they are now.
In June, a DEP representative told the Times that one of the money-making “action steps” for state parks could be hunting.
Pittman writes on an updated DEP checklist, titled “Potential Park Activities/Facilities,” amended to now include hunting.
Latvala was not pleased.
“I was surprised to discover that Honeymoon Island State Park has been added to a list for possible hunting sites. It’s almost as if whoever added Honeymoon Island to this list has never actually been to the state park,” Latvala said in a statement. “Our state parks are meant to protect the treasured natural beauty of Florida. I’m concerned that allowing hunting would be a disaster waiting to happen.”
In the letter to Steverson, Latvala made clear his “strong and vigorous opposition” to hunting at Honeymoon Island State Park.
“I have concerns about this proposed policy and during the upcoming 2016 legislative session,” Latvala added. “I will explore with my colleagues in the Senate and House the mission of our state parks.”