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Gov. Rick Scott recently voiced his disapproval with a Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) budget proposal to close 53 state parks, including Dade Battlefield Historical State Park in Bushnell, to help slash overall spending by 15 percent.
Scott recently met with DEP officials and reportedly said he does not want the parks closed.
Paul Remis of Webster and his pro-parks group, Sumter County Patriots, are not convinced that the Bushnell parks’ future won’t be threatened again as budget talks heat up. To that end, Sumter County Patriots, whose members include re-enactors who perform at the annual “Dade’s Battle” reenactment, are hosting a meeting at the Dade Park lodge at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 17.
“We want residents to take an interest in their park and use it regularly because the parks targeted for closure are deemed to have poor attendance,” said Remis.
Remis said those who have attended picnics, reunions, parties and other events at the park over the years are invited to share their stories at the meeting and residents wishing to be a part of the group’s efforts to save the park are welcome.
DEP created a list of 53 state parks that could save the department as much as $11.3 million toward $52 million in spending cuts required to bring DEP spending levels in line with a proposed balanced budget.
Dade’s Battlefield Memorial Park is at end of County Road 603, near C.R. 476, west of US 301.
The park draws thousands of visitors each year to a variety of events that include the reenactment of the 1835 ambush of Major Francis Dade and his men by an overwhelming force of Seminole Indians. All but three of Dade’s troops were killed and only one lived long enough to tell the soldier’s side of the battle. The Dade’s Battle event alone is attended by thousands of visitors and re-enactors from across the state and various parts of the country each year.