Protect Paynes Prairie Coalition, a group of concerned local citizens, sponsored a march that went from First Magnitude Brewery north to University Avenue, choosing a high-profile drag in Gainesville to bring attention to a Florida Department of Environmental Protection proposal.The FDEP drafted a strategic plan last year that could potentially open state parks to commercial uses such as cattle grazing, logging, and hunting.
“They’re not hunting grounds, they’re not tree farms, they’re not cattle ranches. In fact, some state parks are ex-cattle ranches” restored to their status as natural habitats, said Whitey Markle, a local musician and conservation chair for the Suwannee-St. Johns Sierra Club.
Markle said the changes could negatively impact Paynes Prairie’s environment.
“Every one of these parks is a special place, geographically, historically, culturally,” He said. “There’s something there that people wouldn’t have spent the money to put it aside.”