Winter 2012 Connections Title Bar

Withlacoochee State Trail-Tree Branch

FloridaGreenwaysAndTrails.com

Welcome to the Winter 2012 Edition of Connections!
In This Issue of Connections:
February in Florida--Time to Take a Hike
A River Runs Through a City That Cares
Florida Hosts East Coast Greenway Alliance
Minneapolis Greenway Helps Businesses Grow
Bike Florida's Spring Tour of the Forgotten Coast
Historic Jupiter-Indiantown Trail Now Open
Community Welcomes The Legacy Trail Overpass
Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail Bike Ride
Calling All Young Equestrians
Horses for Hospice Benefit Trail Ride
Ride-Roll-Run Relay Returns to the Greenway
Spring Break Fat Tire Festival
Two State Trails Underway in North Florida
Calendar Highlights

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Spotlight on Florida Hiking Trails 
Florida Trail highlighted in broadcast 
 

Cross Florida Greenway hiking
Cross Florida Greenway
Photo by Diane Dammiller 
Florida Trail Association 
February is Florida Hiking Trails Month and the perfect time of year to make good on your New Year's health and fitness resolutions by exploring some of the beautiful hiking trails throughout the state. If you're looking for inspiration and information, you might want to check out this story on the Florida National Scenic Trail, produced last November by WFSU-TV for its Dimensions program. Filmed on location at Shepherd Spring in the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and along the Sopchoppy River in the Apalachicola National Forest, you will see interviews with Florida Trail Association (FTA) staff Kent Wimmer and Sean Ogle, FTA volunteer George Weaver and Student Conservation Association volunteer crew members Michael Swanberg, Michael Marchetti and Emily Galanto. This video production was aired over two weeks on WFSU's Dimensions program. Kent Wimmer was interviewed about what is needed to plan a hiking excursion.


Many activities are planned across the state to celebrate Florida Hiking Trails Month, from short day hikes and weekend campouts to week-long backpacks or service projects on the Florida Trail. Visit the FTA website to see what the local chapters have planned. There's sure to be an activity taking place near you and this year's mild winter weather makes hiking on Florida's trails an inviting and affordable match for any fitness plan!

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Annual Chipola River Clean-Up
A time for families to enjoy the outdoors and make a difference

By Kay Dennis
Chipola River Cleanup Crew

John Haines once said "to live by a large river is to be kept in the heart of things." The residents of Jackson County feel that way about the beautiful Chipola River that runs through downtown Marianna. On Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011, the Chipola Greenway Volunteers, led by Frances Stone and the City of Marianna, sponsored a River Clean-Up.
Families and friends gathered together and set off in canoes from Yancey Boat Landing, to protect the treasure that their town was built upon.
City Commissioner Paul Donofro, Jr. organized his neighbors, who own boats and live along the Chipola River Cleanup-kayaksRiver, to meet the paddlers and help haul the debris to a trailer at Hinson Conservation and Recreation Area.  Other volunteers waited to help unload the 1,340 pounds of trash collected, including glass bottles, furniture, shopping carts, tires and shower doors.  The outing provided families an opportunity to spend time together, enjoy the outdoors and make a positive difference for the environment. 

Kay Dennis is Director of Municipal Planning and Development, City of Marianna
 

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East Coast Greenway Alliance Celebrates 20 Years
Trustees treated to a "home run" weekend in Florida

By Herb Hiller

East Coast Greenway Alliance Meeting
The East Coast Greenway Alliance trustees and representatives of Florida's trail network celebrated the Alliance's 20th anniversary during a meeting in South Florida. 
The East Coast Greenway Alliance recently held their biannual meeting in Florida, splitting the event between the two coastal towns of Stuart and Jupiter. During this October assembly, the Alliance conducted business which included the adoption of greenway extensions throughout several states stretching from Maine to Florida, including the 2.1-mile Boardwalk Trail in Hollywood, Florida.   

However, this weekend long affair was especially different from others of its kind because, not only did it highlight the achievements and future goals of this multi-trail development system, it also marked the Alliance's 20 year anniversary.

Piecing the Greenway together through its 14 states and the District of Columbia largely falls to state, county and city volunteers plus a national staff of five. In 20 years, all together have nurtured completion of the paved, off-road trail some 900 miles, almost one-third of its entire route.
Yet it is the trustees who frame the big picture. They represent business, health and legal professions, natural resource management, philanthropy and retailing. Like most of us, they respond well to inspiration, which is why South Florida organizers David Larsen of Atkins Engineering Inc., Karl Soderholm of England-Thims and Miller, Paul Haydt of the St. Johns River Water Management District, and I worked to show the Alliance trustees more than gratuitous thanks during the commemorative weekend.  

Aside from formal meetings which included several speakers representing state, regional and local agencies and organizations, special activities were planned for the trustees including kayaking at St. Lucie Inlet State Park, coordinated by Paul Rice, Florida State Parks, District 5 Manager. Kim Delaney of the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council and Terry Rauth of Martin County Engineering hosted a review of how resuming passenger service through the Florida East Coast Railway corridor could facilitate the Greenway along the railroad's right-of-way. Trustees were also honored guests at a dinner hosted by Atkins.


These and other events were designed to acknowledge and reward the Alliance trustees for their dedication and collaborative efforts. The trustees called the weekend "an out of the park home run." Florida sent them home in a mood to keep scoring.

Herb Hiller is Southeastern Region Program Consultant to the East Coast Greenway Alliance and Florida Trail Advocate of the Year (2010-2012).

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Where Bicycles Mean Business
A greenway helps a city grow "greener"

Connections readers may enjoy this interesting article on Minneapolis's Midtown Greenway: Good for Bikes, Good for Business by Clarence Eckerson, Jr. The article includes a 4-1/2 minute video, which was produced by StreetFilms and funded by the Bikes Belong Foundation.

The article and film explore the ways in which this Midtown Greenway not only serves as an urban recreational and alternative transportation corridor, but also attracts development and new businesses. It's well worth a few minutes to learn about this great project, which is no doubt one of the many reasons that Minnesota succeeded Florida in being honored with American Trails' 2010 "Best Trails State" award.

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Bike Florida's 2012 "Forgotten Coast" Tour
Mar. 24-30, 2012
Florida's Panhandle
Tallahassee-Quincy-Blountstown-Wewahitchka-Apalachicola-Sopchoppy

Apalachicola Bay
Apalachicola Bay
Photo by Robin Birdsong 
Bike Florida's 19th Annual Spring Tour is a week-long, fully supported bicycle tour showcasing Florida's "Forgotten Coast." Traveling 45 to 65 miles per day, cyclists will venture from the Capitol City to the Sea, explore the interesting features along Florida's Big Bend Scenic Byway and discover a less-traveled area of the Gulf Coast. From the pine forests, hardwood hammocks, streams and rivers of the Apalachicola National Forest to the coastal salt marshes, bays, beaches and springs of the state parks, Florida's Panhandle has one of the richest eco-systems in the state. The route highlights these natural resources as well as historical downtowns that are vibrant with culture and a haven for the arts.  
 
For more information and registration, please visit bikeflorida.org, email springtour@bikeflorida.org or call (352) 224-8601. 
 

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New Jupiter-Indiantown Trail
Now open to the public

By Ginny Powell

Historic Indiantown Trail-JupiterPalm Beach County's Department of Environmental Resources Management (ERM) is pleased to announce the opening of a new multi-use trail within the Northeast Everglades Natural Area (NENA). Phase 1 of the Historic Jupiter-Indiantown Trail is a two-mile segment through the County's Cypress Creek Natural Area which is open to travel by foot, bicycle and horseback.    

 

The trailhead is co-located in the new parking lot for the natural area located on Gulfstream Citrus Road, north of Indiantown Road in Jupiter, and includes off-street parking for cars and equestrian trailers, an elevated, fully accessible trail surface, a chickee shade shelter, an informational kiosk and an equestrian pitcher pump well. Bike racks, horse hitches and mounting blocks are located at several access points along the Trail. Primarily funded through Transportation Enhancement grants from the Florida Department of Transportation, the Trail also connects to other multi-use hiking trails and wildlife observation platforms within the Cypress Creek Natural Area. Trail users must leave bicycles and horses at these access points if they wish to hike in the natural area. However, a portion of NENA's Jesup Trail, which extends north along Gulfstream Citrus Road into Martin County, is open to cyclists and equestrians, as well as hikers.  

The Historic Jupiter-Indiantown Trail is being built in phases along an old 16-mile road used from the turn of the century to the late 1950s for travel between Jupiter and Indiantown. Construction of Phase 2  is expected to commence in Fall, 2013, and will extend the Historic Jupiter-Indiantown Trail to the south and east, connecting to the County's Riverbend Park.   

  

The NENA is an amazing collection of 165,000 acres of public conservation and historic lands in northern Palm Beach County and southern Martin County, providing nature-based recreational and educational opportunities for residents and visitors. Six main NENA connector trails are in various stages of planning, permitting and construction. The goal of the NENA partners is to make connections among and between these conservation lands, creating a world class ecotourism destination and an alternate transportation network of multi-use trails and blueways for cyclists, hikers, equestrians and canoeists/kayakers.  

  QR Code  

There are many new features to enjoy on the Historic Jupiter-Indiantown Trail and in the Cypress Creek Natural Area. To download fact sheets on these properties, visit the ERM website. To access Palm Beach County's natural areas mobile map, click here or scan the QR code with your smart phone's camera.    

 

Ginny Powell is with Palm Beach County's Department of Environmental Resources Management.  

 

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The Legacy Trail Overpass Joins Sarasota and Venice Trails
Community celebrates grand opening in record numbers
 
Legacy Trail Overpass
Photo courtesy of Florida Department of Transportation.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 5, 2011, marked the official opening of The Legacy Trail Overpass that spans the US 41 Bypass. The new overpass safely connects The Legacy Trail with the Venetian Waterway Trail to provide Florida's residents and visitors with more than 20 miles of trail in which to explore this beautiful, historic region and the parks along the way, including Oscar Scherer State Park.
Legacy Trail Overpass Ribbon Cutting
According to county officials, The Legacy Trail Overpass ribbon- cutting ceremony had the highest attendance of any park project in memory. Photo by Friends of The Legacy Trail - Bruce Dillon.

 

Visit Sarasota County's website for information on The Legacy Trail and area recreational opportunities. See the County's online "Flickr" photo album for more images of the festive ribbon cutting event.  

 

The Legacy Trail and Sarasota County's parks will be showcased in the annual Tour de Parks Fun Ride on Mar. 25, 2012. For details on this fully supported ride, which benefits the parks and trails of Sarasota County, see Friends of The Legacy Trail.  

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Big Pine Key Historic Bike Ride 
Feb. 4, 2012
Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail (FKOHT)

Meet at the Big Pine Plaza (MM 30), in front of the Key Deer Refuge Visitors Center. The group will review the FKOHT kiosk and take a side trip to visit historic sites, while learning about some of the Keys' pioneer families. The event is free; a group lunch following the ride is 'on your own' and optional. For more information, email Monica Woll, call her mobile number, (305) 360-0846, or call the FKOHT office, (305) 853-3571.

For news of the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail, see the latest issue of Trail Talk here under the Highlights menu.
 

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Youth Equestrian Trails Expo
Feb. 4-5, 2012

Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park 
Tallahassee, Florida

Young equestrians of all ages are invited to join the fun and learn through a series of
young equestrians on trail
Photo by Alexandra Weiss 
hands-on activities about trail development and maintenance and riding opportunities. Designed to inspire young equestrians to become active trail users and raise awareness of trail advocacy, volunteerism and land conservation ethics, this free weekend event is hosted by the Department of Environmental Protection in partnership with the Florida Forest Service-Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, the U.S. Forest Service, the City of Tallahassee and the Southern Trailriders Association. A Sunday trail ride will be led by the Southern Trailriders Association. Ride participants must bring their own horses, proof of negative Coggins test and a properly fitted helmet.
 

Registration is limited in order to preserve the quality of the program. Please register before Jan. 30, 2012 by contacting Alexandra Weiss, (850) 245-2052 or emailing alexandra.weiss@dep.state.fl.us.
 

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12th Annual Horses for Hospice Trail Ride 
Feb. 18, 2012
Florida Horse Park, Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway
 
Hospice of Marion County, Inc. will host this year's event, to be dedicated in memory of Wayne Vaught, former chair of this benefit event and a longtime volunteer for the Cross Florida Greenway. Riders travel from as far as Jacksonville and Tampa to spend 2 to 3 hours on the Trail. Following the ride, participants can enjoy lunch by Tommy's BBQ, live entertainment by Bordertown and 50 door prizes will be given out.

 

Proceeds from this event will benefit Patient Care Programs and there are donation levels for riding the Trail or just participating in the lunch and entertainment. For more information or to register, call (352) 854-5218 or visit Hospice of Marion County.  

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Ride-Roll-Run Relay Logo

 

 

Greenway Relay Returns! 

Mar. 17, 2012 
Cross Florida Greenway

Back by popular demand, the Annual "Ride-Roll-Run Relay" on the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway is back for its sixth year. Relay teams, composed of one horseback rider, one mountain biker and one trail runner, participate in this friendly competition on trails built and maintained by the Ocala Mountain Bike Association, Greenway Equestrians and the Florida Trail Association. Proceeds from the Relay help benefit the state's beautiful trails and greenways through the Florida Greenways and Trails Foundation, Inc.

 

The event serves to unite different types of trail users and foster a sense of community and understanding among diverse groups--who keep coming back for the pure fun of it all! For more information, call (352) 236-7143.  

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Spring Break Fat Tire Festival
March 9-11, 2012 
Santos Trailhead
Cross Florida Greenway


Spinning Mountain Bike
Photo by John Moran 
Spring Break means bicycles instead of beaches for many folks and especially so for all who enjoy the annual Fat Tire Festival on the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, hosted by the Ocala Mountain Bike Association (OMBA). This weekend of festivities features the Greenway's internationally acclaimed Santos Mountain Bike Trails in free ride competitions, guided rides, demonstrations, a "Vendor Village," food, camping and even live music on Friday night. For both serious, experienced cyclists and casual cruisers, the Spring Break Fat Tire Festival is a family event enjoyed every year by riders from across the U.S.
 

Space is limited and the event has been a sell-out for the past two years, so visit the OMBA site to check out the details and register early!
 

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Update on Developing State Trails
Regional trail network emerging in Northeast Florida


Two state trails in Northeast Florida are in development as multi-use, recreational trails and are being paved in segments by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) as funding becomes available. Managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Recreation and Parks (DRP), the Palatka to Lake Butler State Trail (PLBST) corridor stretches over 47 miles from the vicinity of SR 238 in Lake Butler to west of US 17 in Palatka. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy played a key role in preserving the corridor for conversion to a rail-trail, which was designated as part of the Florida Greenways and Trails System in 2007. The Twin Lakes Park in Keystone Heights serves as the trailhead for a ten-mile segment of trail which is now paved and connects to Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park by way of the five-mile, Highway 21 Bike Path. Other sections of trail within this corridor are being constructed by FDOT. An additional 8.5 miles of the PLBST--4.1 miles in downtown Lake Butler and 4.4 miles in Putnam County--is expected to be completed this Spring.

The DRP also manages the Palatka to St. Augustine State Trail (PSAST), sometimes known as the State Road 207 Rail-Trail. The first 3.2 miles of this 19-mile corridor through St. Johns and Putnam counties are paved and open to the public. Another 2.9-mile segment, soon to open, will connect to the existing trail, about one mile south of Vermont Heights to Armstrong Road in St. Johns County.

These state trails are becoming a reality, a step at a time, and have the potential to draw valuable, nature-based tourism to this rural area of Florida. Ideally situated to serve as a recreational pathway between historic points of interest and scenic landscapes of native Florida wildflowers, these trails contribute to a developing regional trail network that includes the 260-mile St. Johns River-to-the-Sea Loop. Bicycle touring is growing in popularity nationwide. Given Florida's mild winter climate, development of these long-distance trails helps put the state in perfect position to take advantage of this tourism trend, with the promise of good things to come!

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Calendar Highlights

Feb. 4-5, 2012
 
Youth Equestrian Trails Expo
Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park
Tallahassee, Florida
Register before Jan. 30, 2012 by emailing Alexandra Weiss or calling (850) 245-2052.

Feb. 4, 2012
Big Pine Key Historic Bike Ride
Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail (FKOHT)
Contact Monica Woll, mobile number, (305) 360-0846; FKOHT office, (305) 853-3571.

Feb. 18, 2012
12th Annual Horses for Hospice Trail Ride
Florida Horse Park, Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway
To register, call (352) 854-5218 or visit Hospice of Marion County.

Mar. 9-11, 2012
Spring Break Fat Tire Festival
Santos Trailhead, Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway
The Ocala Mountain Bike Association has the details--register early!

Mar. 17, 2012
Ride-Roll-Run Relay
Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway
For information, call (352) 236-7143.

Mar. 24-30, 2012
Bike Florida's 2012 Forgotten Coast Tour
Florida's Panhandle:
Tallahassee-Quincy-Blountstown-Wewahitchka-Apalachicola-Sopchoppy
See BIKEFLORIDA; email springtour@bikeflorida.org or call (352) 224-8601.

Mar. 25, 2012
Tour De Parks Fun Ride
Sarasota, FL
To register, contact Friends of The Legacy Trail.

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