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Press Office
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 9, 2010
CONTACT: DEP Press Office, (850) 245-2112

DEP Celebrates Palatka-Lake Butler State Trail Construction Milestone

~Ribbon cutting marks first Putnam County segment of developing state trail~

PUTNAM COUNTY - The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Office of Greenways and Trails today joined the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and Putnam County to celebrate the opening of the first four paved miles of the Palatka-Lake Butler State Trail in Putnam County.

"We appreciate the support of the many partners involved in developing this state trail and are pleased to join them in celebrating the progress of the trail into Putnam County," said Jena Brooks, Director of DEP’s Office of Greenways and Trails. “This rail-trail corridor will provide alternative transportation and recreation opportunities for communities in four counties, bringing significant economic benefits to a region that truly values trails.”

Managed by DEP’s Office of Greenways and Trails, the Palatka-Lake Butler State Trail stretches nearly 47 miles through Putnam, Union, Clay and Bradford counties along the former Norfolk-Southern Railroad right-of-way. The trail is being paved in phases by FDOT. The newly paved four-mile segment of the trail in Putnam County connects to a five-mile previously paved segment of the trail in Clay County which was completed in September, 2008.

“The opening of this four-mile section of the Palatka-Lake Butler State Trail brings the Department closer to its goal of improving all modes of transportation and helps make northeast Florida a more friendly place for pedestrians and cyclists,” said FDOT District Secretary Alan Mosley. “Through economic stimulus funding, we have been able to move toward that goal. We now look forward to beginning the next section through Florahome.”

The next segment of the trail to be paved through Florahome in Putnam County is scheduled to begin in 2011. The ultimate goal is to connect St. Augustine to Lake City by way of this trail system, to make the total length of the paved trail more than 100 miles and provide connectivity to the 260-mile St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop cycling tour destination.

“We are very excited about this official opening of the completed western Putnam County portion of the Palatka-Lake Butler State Trail,” said Putnam County Commissioner Brad Purcell. “We appreciate the committed partnership of FDOT and DEP’s Office of Greenways and Trails in making this possible and for sharing in our desire to create opportunities for small business owners while providing another breath-taking nature-based opportunity for our citizens.”

Traversing flatwoods, sandhills and wetlands, and passing through several small towns, the Palatka-Lake Butler State Trail contributes to the 1400-mile, congressionally designated Florida National Scenic Trail. Crossing eight creeks and coming within one mile of eleven lakes, the trail offers access to hiking, biking, running, as well as kayaking and canoeing excursions.

The Palatka-Lake Butler State Trail is part of the state’s award-winning network of greenways and trails, which welcomed more than 4 million visitors in 2009, for an estimated $95 million in economic impact. According to VISIT FLORIDA, 65 percent of Florida visitors include nature-based activities in their travel. In support of this trend, VISIT FLORIDA recently launched a new Trails-Tourism component to its website, featuring maps and information for trails and greenways including lodging, restaurants and travel-related services. The website, trails.VisitFlorida.com, makes it easier than ever for Florida’s residents and visitors to experience locations that are off-the-beaten track and help diversify Florida’s tourism economy.

About DEP’s Office of Greenways and Trails
Florida has been named by American Trails as “Best Trails State in America,” recognizing the efforts of DEP’s Office of Greenways and Trails and its many partners for their coordinated efforts to establish Florida’s statewide system of trails. DEP’s Office of Greenways and Trails provides community assistance, trail acquisition and development funding, and public outreach to expand the statewide system of greenways and trails. DEP’s Office of Greenways and Trails also manages eight state trails and the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway. The Cross Florida Greenway is Florida’s longest green corridor stretching 110 miles from the St. Johns River near Palatka to the Gulf of Mexico near Inglis. Of the eight state trails, six are rail-trails, which are railroad corridors converted to recreational trails for hiking, biking, skating, equestrian activities and alternative transportation. For more information on DEP’s Office of Greenways and Trails, visit Floridagreenwaysandtrails.com.

Greenways and Trails Logo

"We appreciate the support of the many partners involved in developing this state trail and are pleased to join them in celebrating the progress of the trail into Putnam County."

Jena Brooks
Director of DEP's Office of Greenways & Trails

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Last updated: November 09, 2010

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