UPDATE: All future dates for workshops have been postphoned pending Hurricane Irma impacts. We will update the below dates once new dates are shared.
During the month of September, the Office of Greenways & Trails will be holding workshops throughout Florida to show off their five-year plan for the trail systems they manage throughout the state. Of special interest to cyclists will be the planned evolution of the SunTrails network, including such major projects as the Coast to Coast Trail and the Capital City to the Sea Trail, as well as hundreds of other paved bike path corridors under consideration for the future. Paddlers can see what new paddling trails and blueways are planned in upcoming years.
Beyond paved trails and blueways, the Office of Greenways & Trails also has influence over the future route of the Florida Trail. Proposals made to the U.S. Forest Service regards major reroutes to “close the gaps” in the Florida Trail will be presented to the public at these public forums. According to the DEP press release, “the USDA Forest Service will be taking input about current and proposed changes for the 1,300-mile Florida National Scenic Trail at most of the workshops.”
Since the word most is used, if you are attending specifically to provide your opinion on changes to the Florida Trail, call 850-245-2118 during Mon-Fri business hours to check that the workshop you plan to attend will have someone there with the maps that show planned changes to the Florida Trail. We have seen these maps in person at other public meetings but have not been able to find copies online.
Florida Trail Gaps
The three major gaps in the Florida National Scenic Trail, as defined by the FNST Coalition, include:
Gap 1: Central Florida. Seminole Ranch CA to Bull Creek. (Tosohatchee / Deseret)
Gap 2: Panhandle Florida. Apalachicola National Forest to Choctawhatchee River. (Blountstown Greenway / Altha / Econfina Creek / Pine Log)
Gap 3: Northern Florida. Suwannee River to Aucilla River. (48.4 mile roadwalk)
The following presentation was shared in June 2014 at an FNST Coalition Meeting
As you can view on the Maps page of the Florida Greenways & Trails Foundation, beyond the gap proposals for the Florida Trail, the Statewide Regional Priority Trail Connectors are bicycle trails interconnecting statewide through the new SunTrails program. The FNST is shown in black on this map.
This is your chance to see and comment upon the changes being recommended in the Orlando metro (Gap #1) – a new corridor bypassing the current route through Forever Florida, Bull Creek, and Tosohatchee – as well as in the Central Panhandle (Gap #2) and the Big Bend (Gap #3). As hikers, our roles as trail users and trail maintainers are disproportionate to the influence we have on the future of hiking on the Florida Trail. This is one of the few opportunities for you to review these plans and have a say as part of the public record.
Attend a workshop
Look through the list of workshops below and find one near you. Your participation in this process is essential to ensure that the public is listened to when trail planning is on the table.
Tuesday, September 5 – Marianna
Jackson County Citizens’ Lodge
4574 Lodge Drive, Marianna, Florida 32446
Wednesday, September 6 – Port St. Joe
St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve Center
3915 State Road 30-A, Port St. Joe, FL 32456
Thursday, September 7 – Milton
Blackwater Heritage State Trail-Visitor Center
5533 Alabama Street, Milton, FL 32570
Monday, September 11 – Sebring
Bert J. Harris, Jr. Agricultural Center, Conference Room #2
4509 George Boulevard, Sebring, FL 33875
Tuesday, September 12 – Port St. Lucie
St. Lucie Transportation Planning Organization, Coco Vista Center
466 SW Port St Lucie Blvd. #111, Port St. Lucie, FL 34953
Wednesday, September 13 – Hialeah
Milander Center for Arts & Entertainment, Garden Plaza Hall
4800 Palm Ave, Hialeah, FL 33012
Thursday, September 14 – North Port
Morgan Family Community Center, Meeting Room A/B
6207 West Price Boulevard, North Port, FL 34291
Friday, September 15 – Temple Terrace
Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Southwest District
13051 N Telecom Parkway, Temple Terrace, FL 33637
Monday, September 18 – DeBary
198 Sunrise Boulevard, DeBary, FL 32713
Tuesday, September 19 – Jacksonville
Ed Ball Building, Conference Room 851
214 N Hogan Street, Jacksonville, FL 32202
Monday, September 25 – Palatka
Ravine State Gardens
1600 Twigg Street, Palatka, FL 32177
Tuesday, September 26 – Dunnellon
Historic Train Depot
12061 S. Williams Street, Dunnellon, FL 34432
Wednesday, September 27 – Tallahassee
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Douglas Building, Conference Room A
3900 Commonwealth Boulevard, Tallahassee, FL 32399
Thursday, September 28 – Live Oak
Suwannee River Water Management District, Suwannee Room
9225 County Road 49, Live Oak, FL 32060
A special note to our friends who have been working with local governments to end local support for the River of Grass Greenway (ROGG) cutting through fragile habitats in Big Cypress and Everglades National Parks: your voice is needed at these workshops, as the plans for ROGG are still on these state maps.