Monday, February 2, 2009
Three Rivers State Park - Sneads, Florida
One of Florida's unique treasures may not be available to its people for much longer. Three Rivers State Park in the Northwest Florida community of Sneads is one of three state parks that the state may close permanently this year.
The state has more than doubled its budget in the last ten years, but no longer seems to have money to operate small state parks that have been open to the public for decades. Three Rivers, for example, has been part of the state park system since 1953.
The beautiful park overlooks Lake Seminole, formed by the damming of the forks of the Chattahoochee, Flint and Apalachicola Rivers (hence the name). The lake area is a focal point of archaeology and history. Remains of a massive Native American site dating to the days of the earliest invention of pottery have been found along the shoreline of the park.
The park overlooks the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers, a major landmark in the early exploration and expansion of America. The site of the Spanish mission of La Encarnacion a la Santa Cruz de Sabacola (1674) is within view of the picnic area of the park, as is the location of an 18th century Native American fort and a British fort from the War of 1812.
Dr. John Gorrie, the inventor of the ice machine and a process of refrigeration and air conditioning, lived on Gorrie Hill along the southern edge of the park during the 1820s before moving on to Apalachicola. He is one of two Floridians honored at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
The park preserves unique hill country that is among the most unusual terrain in its area. Specimen of the Florida Torreya, one of the rarest trees in the world, can even be found growing there.
Three Rivers State Park costs the state less than $200,000 a year to operate, while generating (according to the state's own figures) an economic impact on the Sneads area of nearly $2,000,000 per year. The state has indicated that since the land on which it has operated the park since 1953 actually belongs to the Federal government, it will hand the park back over to save money. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has indicated that it does not have the money to operate Three Rivers, which means the park will likely close.
If you would like to voice your opinion about the closing of Three Rivers State Park, you can do so by writing to Governor Charlie Crist at Charlie.Crist@MyFlorida.com. You can read more about the park at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/threerivers.