In This Issue of Connections:
State Project Receives National Recognition
Florida Greenways and Trails System - Foresight and Planning
Progress on the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail
Florida National Scenic Trail - 5 Year Strategic Plan
Sustainable and Authentic Florida Conference
Circumnavigational Trail Guide - Third Edition
2012 Southeastern Equestrian Trails Conference
Celebrating National Trails Day® in the Keys
Recreational Trails Program grant
supports grassroots community trail project
The CRT Annual Achievement Award was presented in Washington, D.C. on June 5. (l to r) Derrick Crandall, Co-Chair of the CRT; U.S. Representative Steve Southerland; Lee Garner, City Manager, Chattahoochee; Anne and Charles Thrash, City of Chattahoochee volunteers; Jack Terrell, RTP Member; Marianne Fowler, Co-Chair of the CRT.
The small Apalachicola River community of Chattahoochee was recently awarded one of only nine national Annual Achievement Awards
by the Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT), a federation of national and regional trail-related organizations. The award, specifically for construction and design, was for a sustainable and accessible trail of approximately 2.3 miles added to the city’s Angus Gholson Nature Trails. The project involved development and/or enhancement of three trails and a new trailhead, as well as amenities that include interpretive kiosks, benches, water fountains, picnic areas and restrooms. Sustainable and accessible design principles were applied throughout the project for design, layout and construction.
“We are so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with OGT on this project.” Chattahoochee City Manager Lee Garner said. The trail project, in conjunction with an RV Park, performance stage, boating and fishing opportunities, enhances eco-tourism opportunities that could result in positive economic impacts for the community. Thanks to the vision of dedicated volunteers and enthusiastic city leadership, the Nature Trails project was awarded a grant of $95,145 through the OGT-administered Recreational Trails Program (RTP) and the city supplied $63, 430 in matching funds, for a total project cost of $158,575.
In addition to Chattahoochee officials traveling to Washington, D.C. for the awards ceremony, the city celebrated the project’s completion with a grand opening event in late May.
A renewed vision for the Florida Greenways and Trails System
This year, the Office of Greenways and Trails is coordinating with the Florida Greenways and Trails Council and partners statewide to renew the vision for the Florida Greenways and Trails System (FGTS). A new plan to guide Florida’s efforts to establish, connect, promote and coordinate the FGTS is being developed, and the state maps defining and prioritizing greenways and trails are being fully updated. OGT welcomes your comments and feedback. Follow the progress of this effort and learn how to provide input by visiting the Florida Greenways and Trails website
and clicking on the Florida Greenways and Trails System Plan logo.
Bringing the past and present together for a bright future
In the early 20th century, railroad tycoon Henry Flagler fulfilled a dream to connect Key West to the mainland U.S. by way of his famous Overseas Railroad. One hundred years later, 23 of Flagler’s railroad bridges now form a central component of another long-term vision to connect the islands--this time by way of a multi-use bicycle and pedestrian facility. The developing Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail (FKOHT) extends 106 miles from Key Largo to Key West, serving as an alternative transportation route between the islands and a recreational venue for hiking, running, bicycling, in-line skating, fishing and kayaking. The FKOHT also contributes to a larger system of trails as part of the East Coast Greenway, which aims to connect the cities and towns of the East Coast from Maine to Key West in a continuous, traffic-free path.
Based on a locally developed master plan, the Florida Park Service is coordinating the construction of the FKOHT in partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation and Monroe County. Progress in implementing the vision for this 106-mile trail has shifted into high gear during the past three years. Approximately 70 miles of the FKOHT have been completed in segments along the corridor, to date, and an additional 30 miles of new paved trail segments are in progress and scheduled to be completed by June, 2013. Many of the historic bridges along the corridor have been retrofitted for trail use and cantilevered fishing platforms have been added to some of the bridges.
Such progress is welcome news for the Keys tourism industry since, even in its development phase, the FKOHT welcomes an average of nearly 1,000,000 visitors annually and trail users recognize its growing economic benefits. For example, May’s annual Keys100 race attracted 932 participants this year. Race Director Bob Becker estimated that an additional 400-500 people—support crew, friends, family and volunteers—attended the event, staying one or more nights in local hotels. “The KEYS100 was a big success this year, but the race just couldn’t exist without the Overseas Trail,” wrote Becker. “We hope that a few more miles of new paved trail will continue to be added each year to Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail. Those of us involved in the KEYS100 are grateful for every one of them!”
As Flagler once envisioned the Overseas Railroad as a pathway for commerce and tourism, the FKOHT helps preserve and reincarnate his legacy, giving residents and visitors a new way to travel the area and enjoy its natural beauty, local businesses and colorful communities “up close and personal.” For details on the status of specific FKOHT construction projects, please see the Highlights menu at FloridaGreenwaysAndTrails.com.
U.S. Forest Service presents 5-Year Strategic Plan for Florida National Scenic Trail
The U.S. Forest Service presented its comprehensive 5-Year Strategic Plan for the Florida National Scenic Trail (FNST) during a meeting of the FNST coalition partners at Mission San Luis on Wednesday, June 6, 2012. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is a member of the coalition through staff from the Division of Recreation and Parks.
The FNST is a federally-designated non-motorized recreation trail, which was started by a dedicated group of hikers in the 1960s. As it stands now, the trail consists of 1,079 designated scenic miles and is the only National Scenic Trail that explores a semi-tropical ecosystem.
The U.S. Forest Service relies on its close association with the Florida Trail Association (FTA) and other coalition members to help oversee this national treasure. Volunteers play an invaluable role in the maintenance of the FNST and the implementation of the strategic plan.
(l-r) Shelli Bischoff-Turner of Conservation Impact, Tom Heffernan from Eglin AFB, James Burnett of U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and Jim Wood, DEP Office of Greenways and Trails discuss the new 5-Year Strategic Plan for the Florida National Scenic Trail presented by the National Forests in Florida on June 6. The FNST is one of eleven congressionally designated Scenic Trails in the country.
U.S. Forest Service Photo/Susan Blake.
“We wanted a plan that highlighted priorities that land managers could focus on. In addition, we wanted to provide them with a document that they could refer to as we work together to achieve our common goals,” said Forest Supervisor Susan Matthews for the National Forests in Florida.
The plan focuses on four goals, which include adding 100 miles of designated trails to FNST, standardizing 100% of the FNST, proactively engaging FNST land managers in the maintenance and promotion of their segment of the trail and clearly branding and promoting the FNST and its significance.
According to Carlos Schomaker, FTA President, volunteers conduct significant trail construction and management. Schomaker believes that, to make the plan successful, it is critical for the Forest Service and land managers to involve volunteers so that “we’re all working together.”
Jim Wood, Chief of the Office of Greenways and Trails, said, “The new FNST Strategic Plan is a concise document that will serve as an effective guide for advancing the Florida National Scenic Trail. We are very pleased to be a part of the coalition effort led by the Forest Service, which has brought together a team to reach its first critical milestone with completion of this plan.”
Examining how greenways, blueways and trails
help define authentic places
Trail advocates will find much to like about the Sustainable & Authentic Florida Conference that takes place Oct. 17-19, 2012 through coastal Manatee County. The conference will examine four places of authentic character achieved by protecting nonrenewable natural and cultural resources.
The four are Miami Beach, DeLand and northwest Volusia County, Wakulla and mainland Franklin counties, and coastal Manatee. In each, multi-use trails, greenways and blueways contribute to the authenticity that attracts innovative investors, creative newcomers and visitors who prefer places that reflect the choices of people who live there. A team of “place-makers” will represent how each of the four has shaped its own character.
Speakers who will address how authenticity prefigures sustainability include photojournalist John Moran; co-director of the University of South Florida’s Florida Studies Program; Gary Mormino, director of the Masters Program in Urban Studies at Rollins College, Bruce Stephenson and recently retired director of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, Peggy Bulger.
For information and to register visit the Sustainable & Authentic Florida Conference website.
By Herb Hiller, Conference Director
American Trails’ Florida Advocate of the Year
321 N. Clara Avenue
DeLand, FL 32720
The third edition guidebook for the 1,515-mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail, commonly referred to as the CT, is now available for retail purchase. The 290-page guide, created by the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT), alleviates the need to download and print 26 different segment guides and other information from the OGT website. It includes the trail guide text and data book, along with trip planning and safety information as well as recommended gear for a CT journey. Color maps must still be downloaded and printed from the OGT website.
Almost a dozen changes are included in the new edition, most of which relate to overnight stops. All proceeds from the sale of the guide go directly to the non-profit Florida Paddling Trails Association (FPTA). The FPTA serves as a volunteer steward of the trail as well as other paddling trails statewide. Retail copies of the $16.95 guidebook can only be purchased on Amazon.com.
Mark your calendar and save the date
The SETC 2012 conference has grown to be the largest, most renowned equestrian trails conference in the country, which will host a number of educational speakers, enriching and fun workshops, engaging tours and activities, as well as an assortment of exhibitor booths that are sure to be gratifying for all participants.
Whether you are a novice or an experienced equestrian, an involved trail user, resource conservationist, or other stakeholder who’s concerned with the education, preservation, development, maintenance or responsible recreational use of trails, you’re sure to find much to interest you in this three day conference.
You don’t want to miss this dynamic, equine forum and all its invaluable networking opportunities. The SETC website has all the details regarding registration information, speaker and workshop lineups, conference agenda and more.
Participants had the option of joining in on a “pedal” or a “paddle!”
In honor of National Trails Day® on June 2, the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail hosted a combo cycling and paddling event. In the morning half of the day, Mark Terrill of Islamorada Historical Bike Tours met the cyclists at the Hurricane Monument on Upper Matecumbe Key. His cycling tour around Islamorada included stops along the way to survey historical monuments and attractions.
The group then had the option of meeting for lunch at a local restaurant, after which Trail Specialist Monica Woll with the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail (FKOHT) led a paddling expedition out to Indian Key State Park. There are many delightful ways to enjoy the FKOHT and both the pedaling and the paddling groups appreciated this opportunity to mark the 20th Anniversary of America’s largest trail observance in their own recreational styles.