Florida Trail Association
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May 2018 E-blaze Newsletter

May 2018
The new route through Big Shoals SP eliminates 5 miles of road walk
Big Shoals Reroute
Removing Roadwalk
North Florida Trail Program Manager, Jeff Glenn, writes:
The Suwannee River is one of the major highlights on the Florida Trail (FT) and just recently, a brand new section of trail was opened up that puts trail users along more of the river’s scenic banks. The FT now enters Big Shoals State Park between Cansa Road and Bell Springs, accessing the only class III rapid in the state of Florida. This new route eliminates 5 miles of road walk while adding 3 miles of new trail, a major accomplishment for the region. This new section includes a campsite and overlook at Big Shoals.
Closing gaps is one of the most important tasks towards completing the trail and this was a great one. A special thanks to the North Florida Trailblazers Chapter for their hard work in opening this new section!
For a map and additional information on this new section of trail, visit our Trail Closures & Notices page.
The group has a morning safety briefing before work begins
Map of new FNST reroute through Big Shoals State Park
Big Shoals Ribbon Cutting & Inaugural Hike
Join us in celebrating the opening of the Big Shoals reroute!
Looking down on the Suwannee River (Bruce Lyon)
Tuesday, June 19, 8AM – 1PM:
On June 19th at the Bell Springs trailhead, the FTA is hosting ribbon cutting honoring our volunteers and Big Shoals State Park partners for their incredible accomplishment. Following the ribbon cutting we will lead a day hike to Big Shoals, a three mile round trip hike.
SCHEDULE:
8:00 AM- Breakfast and coffee served
8:30 AM- Ribbon cutting ceremony begins
9:00 AM- Optional day hike begins. Pack a lunch to eat at Big Shoals and be sure to bring at least 1 liter of water.
1:00 PM- Approximate completion of hike. This is a round trip hike so no shuttle is required.
Register to attend this FREE event at the link below:
Regional Chainsaw Trainings
From our Regional Trail Program Managers, Adam, Kelly & Jeff:
All three regions throughout the state recently held their spring Chainsaw Trainings at Blackwater River State Forest, Highlands Hammock State Park and Ocala National Forest. Dennis Helton of Helton Logging Enterprises once again treated our FTA trail maintainers to a fantastic chainsaw training that raised certification levels of many sawyers throughout the state as well as trained brand new sawyers who will assist their chapters with trail maintenance.
A total of 18 volunteers and 1 FTA staff member were re-certified and trained in bucking and limbing techniques and 15 volunteers received their first sawyer certification, ensuring that FTA volunteers continue to have the skills necessary to maintain the Florida Trail to a high standard. With hurricane season fast approaching, we feel prepared and confident that our volunteers are up to the task of responding to storm damage and clearing blow-downs.
We’d like to thank Blackwater River State Forest, Highlands Hammock State Park and Ocala National Forest for their support of the FTA and assistance in hosting these important training events. These facilities provided fantastic camping accommodations and classroom space, as well as an ideal field location. At Blackwater, the volunteers contributed to thinning sand pines in a small parcel being managed for quail hunting. At Highlands Hammock, the volunteers helped clear trees on trails and at the campground. We wouldn’t be able to provide these trainings without the support of our land manager partners and we look forward to future opportunities for collaboration.
Volunteer trail maintainers interested in pursuing chainsaw training can contact their Chapter Trail Coordinators for information about future training opportunities.
In Memoriam
In remembrance of those in our FTA commuity who have passed
“The life of the deceased is placed in the memory of the living.”
– Marcus Tullius Cicero
Community Outreach Manager, Van Tran, writes:
Our FTA members and volunteers are the organization’s greatest asset. We have created an ‘In Memoriam’ page on the floridatrail.org website dedicated to honoring and remembering those in our FTA community who have passed away.
The contributions and impact these individuals have made to the Florida Trail Association are invaluable. If there is an FTA member/volunteer who is not on the list and should be included, or if you’d like to include more information about a listed individual, please contact me at: vant@floridatrail.org. Please include in the e-mail: the person’s name, a brief biographical write-up including their affiliation with the FTA, and their photo.
We would like to express our gratitude to Sandra Friend and other FTA members who have provided us with many of the photos and biographical information for these commemorated individuals.
Mark Your Calendars!
FTA Presents: The National Trails Festival
Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System
October 5-7, 2018
Wayne G. Sanborn Activity Center in Earl Brown Park
Deland, FL
Carlos Schomaker, VP Development & Outreach, writes:
The FTA invites all nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts to come celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act, October 5-7 in Deland, FL. The Florida Trail is one of eleven other designated national scenic trails that were spawned by this 1968 Act of Congress. Everyone’s invited to drop in and check out these amazing public resources!
  • Learn about America’s important trails and opportunities to enjoy, traverse and volunteer on them
  • Check out various presentations, demos and displays; and meet a variety of outdoor leaders
  • Hear from compelling speakers, including: well-known speed-hiker and author, Jennifer Pharr Davis, and outdoor diversity advocate and author, Audrey Peterman. Other exciting guests from the outdoor community will also be present
  • Live music and exciting gear raffle
  • Bonus: We’ll also be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act!
Put this event on your calendar and help us spread the word! We’ll be sharing more information as the date gets closer. It’s time to celebrate this important legislation and the trails and communities that are its legacy! To find out more info about the National Trails System’s 50th Anniversary, visit:
National Trails Day
Saturday, June 2nd
REI Winter Park, 6-7PM
Gulf Islands National Seashore
Community Outreach Manager, Van Tran, writes:
In celebration of National Trails Day and as a part of REI Winter Park’s Summer Speaker series, I’ll be leading an interactive class about the Florida Trail’s Coastal Ecosystems at the REI Winter Park store location. Inspired by a Florida Master Naturalist course I’ve just completed, I’ll be covering the diverse ecology of seaside and estuary environments and coastal wildlife you can find along the Florida Trail.
This class will inspire hikers to become their own naturalist as they go off to explore the Florida Trail’s scenic shorelines including Gulf Islands National Seashore and St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Join me for an evening of nature discovery!
For a schedule of events hosted by an REI store near you, visit the REI Events page.
Clapper Rail protecting its eggs and hatchings (Van Tran)
Florida Trail Instagram
Check out our live FTA Instagram feed
For those of you who do not have a social media account or smartphone, you can now view what we post on the FTA Instagram through our floridatrail.org website!
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/.
Sandra Friend receiving an FTA Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s Annual Meeting
Florida Trail Association | 1-877-HIKE-FLA | floridatrail.org