Florida Trail Association
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The Florida Trail
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March 2018 E-blaze

March 2018
Cypress dome along the Florida Trail
Big Cypress National Preserve Reopens for FT Hikers!
Trail Closures Lifted
Ochopee – The temporary Trail Closures for Kirby, Bluebird and Lost Dog Prescribed Fires to promote visitor safety during prescribed fire activity have been lifted. All sections of the Florida National Scenic Trail in Big Cypress National Preserve are now reopen.
Backcountry users should exercise caution when traveling in recently burned areas. Visitors should look up and around and be aware of fire and storm weakened tree limbs.
The fire activity is managed by the Southwest Florida and Caribbean Fire and Aviation Management Program (SWFLCAR), a cooperative program between Big Cypress National Preserve and the US Fish and Wildlife Service Region 4, District 6. Questions about the fire may be directed to the SWFLCAR Duty Officer, available any time, 239-719-0241.Media questions should be directed to Acting Public Information Officer, Laurie Humphrey,239-695-1214.
Florida Trail GIS Updates
Example of a Map in ArcGIS software
U.S Forest Service GIS Technician, Ashlee Townsend, writes:
Over the past few months, the USFS and the FTA have been working together to improve the content and overall completeness of data for the Florida Trail. Geographic Information System (GIS) has allowed us to bridge the gap between the physical resource and the spatially represented data (on our devices), which has led us to improve planning strategies and to provide updated information for hikers and land managers. I have been working closely with the FTA Regional Representatives, conducting research and site visits to ensure that we are representing the most current information and locations of our trail line, campsites and trailheads. An example of this work can be seen along the trail at our newly printed kiosk panels. Kiosks provide hikers with information on the area and help to illustrate the trail locations while providing insight on the resources available. Having accurate data aids in the construction of maps and information used to build these information stations.
One of the major challenges of maintaining a database for 1,500 miles of trail is that it is constantly changing due to things like reroutes and closures. With the diligent reporting from volunteers, partners and the regional reps, we aim to keep the data as current and representative as possible so that trail users can utilize this rich source of information. The Florida Trail is employing a more developed GIS than most of the National Scenic Trails in the country. While we are excited to hold this position, we continuously aim to improve and evolve our GIS to better serve our users.
To view the Florida National Scenic Trail’s online map and to download the most current KMZ files, visit our ArcGIS website.
One of the kiosk panels for the Suwannee River section installed in White Springs
Example of a kiosk panel installed at Camp Blanding
Building More Than Trails
with Groundwork Jacksonville
Groundwork Jax’s Green Team Youth Corps in Juniper Prairie Wilderness
“Educating the mind without educating the heart
is no education at all.” – Aristotle
Community Outreach Coordinator, Van Tran, writes:
The future of the Florida Trail lays in the hands of our future generation of trail stewards. The FTA is continualy striving to engage new trail maintainers by working with universities and youth groups throughout the state. Last Thursday, North FL Regional Representative, Jeff Glenn, and I had the pleasure of hosting a morning of trail work in the Ocala National Forest with Groundwork Jacksonville’s Green Team Youth Corps.
Groundwork Jacksonville is a non-profit organization working to restore, connect and revitalize the historic neighborhoods of Jacksonville’s urban core. The organization is committed to environmental restoration of the urban parks, trails and waterways that make up the city’s Emerald Necklace. They engage neighboring communities, including young people, to fulfill this mission.
One of Groundwork Jacksonville’s successful youth programs is the Green Team Youth Corps, a year-round program that offers apprenticeships and fellowships to high school students from the city’s urban core neighborhoods. The program works to prepare Jacksonville’s youth for a lifetime of environmental and healthy community leadership as well as invest in their community’s future and capacity to improve its physical environment. Jeff and I collaborated with Groundwork Jacksonville’s Program Manager, Alyssa Bourgoyne, to incorporate a morning of trail maintenance into the Green Team’s annual overnight camping trip in the Ocala National Forest.
We met up with the group at Pat’s Island Trailhead and were greeted with cool, spring temperatures and sunny skies. After introductions, a tailgate safety session and a morning stretch circle, we hit the Florida Trail and entered the Juniper Prairie Wilderness. Clay Coates, Biological Technician for the Ocala NF, accompanied us for the first part of our hike. We sat down by the entrance to The Yearling Trail at an overlook of one of the many gorgeous sinkholes in the wilderness as Clay shared with the teens his story of how he came to work for the Forest Service and the opportunities available for them to get involved in forestry. Jeff then reviewed safe handling of the tools used for trail work in the Juniper Wilderness and how to determine the right amount of clearance for a trail corridor. The group was enthusiastic to clear the trail, using loppers and handsaws to cut back scrub oak and palmettos. They went straight to cutting and schlepping stray branches and scrub without hesitation. We were able to accomplish a solid hour of trail maintenance on The Yearling Trail with the Green Team. For most of the teens, this was their first time in the Ocala National Forest. For some of them, it was also their first experience hiking. This section of the Ocala Forest is rich in cultural and natural history and is a great resource to share with youth growing up in Florida.
We are so grateful Groundwork Jacksonville’s Green Team dedicated time in their camping trip to do trail work with us. They are an incredibly kind and hardworking crew. The work this program is doing to train and empower future environmental leaders is indispensable. Thank you, Groundwork Jax!
Panhandle Update: New Gates along SR 87
Panhandle Regional Representative, Adam Fryska, writes:
For over a year now, the Florida Trail has been impacted by major highway widening projects along SR87 and US331. While these construction projects present a temporary inconvenience for hikers and trail maintainers, ultimately we’ll have safer, more accessible, and more visible trail crossings along these major highways. Planned improvements include new parking areas, kiosks, crossing signs, and a dedicated pedestrian walkway along the Yellow River Bridge.
One recent development has been the reopening of a section of trail in Weaver Creek directly south of the Yellow River Bridge. As part of the highway widening, FDOT installed wildlife exclusion fences that cut-off access to a section of the Florida Trail between the bridge and Range Road 736. We’re happy to share that our partners at Jackson Guard have installed an access gate to reopen this section of trail and remove the roadwalk along SR87. The Western Gate Chapter volunteers have also recently cleared and maintained this section of trail, ensuring that it’s in excellent condition. Thank you to all involved for working to keep the Florida Trail open!
FTA Annual Meeting
FT Logo
Join us! Saturday, April 7, 2018:
The FTA Annual Meeting will be held at the Wyndham Garden Gainesville (formerly the Paramount).
SCHEDULE
8AM – 10AM:
President’s Board Review
Treasurer Report
Board Elections
Ididahike Presentation
Awards Presentation
10AM – 2PM:
Chapter Council Meeting
Followed by:
Please join us after the annual meeting to celebrate the opening of the new FTA Trail Office.
All are welcome! Light hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be provided.
FTA Board Elections
FTA Board Director, Megan Donoghue, writes:
The Florida Trail Association will be holding Board elections at the Annual Meeting on
April 7. The following are current and vacant positions. Positions up for election or reelection are represented in bold.

OFFICERS

President—Leslie Wheeler

Treasurer—Pam Hale (up for 2nd term)

Secretary—Jan Wells

Vice-President, Governance/ Admin—Pete Durnell

Vice-President, Membership—Adam Wiegand

Vice-President, Trails—David Waldrop (up for 2nd term)

Vice-President, Development/Outreach—Carlos Schomaker

AT-LARGE BOARD MEMBERS

1. David Denham;

2. Greg Knecht; (up for 2nd term)

3. Megan Eidel (Donoghue)

4. Lauren Krebs

5. Bill Turman (up for 1st full term)

6. VACANT

7. VACANT

8. VACANT

BOARD NOMINEES

Deborah Schroth, Orange Park, FL

Deborah A. Schroth is Board Certified in Juvenile Law. Deborah has been an active member of The Florida Trail Association TrailBlazers Chapter for several years.

Special Discount for FTA Members!
20% Discount on Sandra Friend and John Keatley’s The Florida Trail Book to FTA Members Only
We are offering Sandra and John’s FNST book (priced at $50) for $40 to FTA Members through the FTA Shop. This book is a wonderful resource for all Florida Trail enthusiasts.
“This commemorative retrospective of Florida’s National Scenic Trail shares the stories of those who have played a part in building, maintaining, and experiencing this national treasure, and recounts the paralleling history of the volunteer organization created to develop the trail, the Florida Trail Association.”
For more resources on hiking in Florida, visit https://floridahikes.com/.
Florida Trail Association | 1-877-HIKE-FLA | floridatrail.org