Public hearing set next month on status of Dade Battlefield Historic Park

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has scheduled a public hearing on plans to improve the Dade Battlefield Historic Park near Bushnell.

The hearing will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 8 in the Dade Lodge at the historic park, 7200 County Road 603.

Re-enactors take part in a re-enactment of the fateful battle at the Dade Battlefield.
Re-enactors take part in a re-enactment of the fateful battle at the Dade Battlefield.

At 5:30 p.m., a management plan for the park will be presented by the department’s Division of Recreation and Parks.

Roadway conditions at the park need improvement, according to a memo by Richard Baier, Sumter County public works director.

He wrote that a Jan. 31 inspection found cracking and weathering on CR 603 and the road leading into the park. An asphalt overlay of 1.5 inches for CR 603 would cost about $65,000, according to the memo.

In a Feb. 14 letter to state Sen. Dennis Baxley and state Rep. Don Hahnfeldt, Sumter County Board Chairman Doug Gilpin asked that the state pave the park’s roads while the county will upgrade CR 603.

“The timing of our respective paving efforts will support rather than detract from the opportunity to enjoy the history and activities in the State of Florida Dade Battlefield Park,” Gilpin wrote.

The park is the site of a six-hour battle on Dec. 28, 1835, when Indian warriors ambushed 108 U.S. soldiers to start the Second Seminole War. Three soldiers survived. The soldiers were on their way to Fort King at Ocala.

Seminoles were angry about white settlers moving into an area designated for their reservation and slave traders coming in to capture black tribal members.

The 80-acre park includes the historic battlefield as well as natural communities that existed during the war.

A half-mile trail through a pine forest also features wildlife that includes tortoises, woodpeckers, hawks and indigo snakes. A visitor’s center displays information and a video about the historic battle and the park also has a playground, picnic area, shelters and recreation hall.

Upcoming events include a pine needle basket class, natural fiber crafts and a campfire music jam.