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December 2020 E-blaze

December 2020
Big Cypress Trail Maintenance
Central & South FL Trail Program Manager, Jenna Taylor, writes:
The Southern Terminus in Big Cypress National Preserve at the Oasis Visitors Center sees hundreds of visitors a day, anxious to see an alligator or two. Over the weekend of December 4th to 6th, they were treated to another sighting, the infamous Florida Trail Association Volunteer. Visitors watched with curiosity as 15 volunteers a day trudged across the yard– hefting brush cutters, paint buckets and other tools with their orange helmets bobbing along as they head for a swampy workday. In sometimes waist deep water, volunteers cleared three miles of the Florida Trail, opening the trail up in some places where in just a year’s time, the swamp had tried to reclaim the footpath. While working, the crews greeted hikers, many of whom were exploring Big Cypress for the first time and were especially grateful for the freshly maintained trail.
Huge thank you to each and every volunteer who participated this weekend and a special thank you to Richard Warren, Big Cypress Chapter Trail Coordinator, for leading these crews.
Trail Work along the Kissimmee River
Women’s Work Party in Collaboration with
Girls Who Hike FL & Wild East Women
Nine incredible ladies from Girls Who Hike Florida along with two all-star trail stewards from the Tropical Trekkers Chapter, Barbara Quinn and Audrey Minnis, joined us on December 11-13th for a fun and inspiring Women’s Work Party.
Florida Atlantic University provided us with gorgeous place to camp at their Riverwoods Field Lab as well as a fantastic pontoon ecotour of the Kissimmee River to kick off the weekend.
Over the course of two days, the crew hiked through mud and water to clear the Florida Trail corridor in Chandler Slough along the Kissimmee River, thoroughly removing large swaths of invasive cesar weed along the way.
We’re thankful for the enthusiasm, hard work and good spirits these Wild East Women brought to the weekend and look forward to inspiring more female trail stewards to preserve and protect our trails!
Bear Awareness on the Trail
North Florida Trail Program Manager, Jeff Glenn, writes:
Florida Trail users can now rent bear canisters at no cost for overnight trips along the trail. Canisters are now available at the Juniper Springs Recreation Area. Simply inquire at the gate house upon entry to the springs. In addition, there are bear canisters at the Buck N’ Bass Sports Center in Salt Springs that are ready for use. The Buck N’ Bass is a very friendly place that welcomes hikers and is proud to participate in this program. This program is a direct response to negative encounters between FT users and black bears in the Juniper Prairie Wilderness. With proper Leave No Trace camping techniques, including the safe storage of food, these instances can be stopped. The safety of trail users and wildlife is a top priority.
Canisters are available on a first come first serve basis by calling the Buck N’ Bass at (352) 685-0200.
A fully refundable cash or check deposit is required at the time of rental and the canisters must be returned in clean condition to their point of origin.
Daisy Palmer Memorial Bench
Installed by the Loxahatchee Chapter in Okeeheelee Park
Central/South FL Trail Program Manager, Jenna Taylor, writes:
In one of the places that meant the most to her, chapter members and family gathered on December 6th to remember Daisy Palmer. Daisy, who passed away earlier this year, has been a part of the Florida Trail Association for over 20 years and was an active member of the Loxahatchee Chapter. She joined the FTA in 1993 and became a lifetime member in 1996. Daisy was a regular volunteer at Okeeheelee Nature Center where she worked in their nature center and regularly led hikes of the park.She loved the park and once told the Palm Beach Post, “I want a park like this preserved for my great-great-granchildren when they’re born. “
During her time with the FTA, she volunteered an average of 1,000 hours a year. She was known for providing excellent meals to volunteers and hikers. Roy Moore, chapter chair, said that Daisy used to cook meals for the volunteers on trail maintenance days. “At my first FTA event ever there was spaghetti and homemade bread. It felt like a banquet instead of trail work.” He said eventually, folks started showing up just for her food. She also would prepare the breakfast for their larger hiking events.
Paul Cummings, who organized the bench installation said she did something for everyone. “She cooked, she organized meetings, she planned all our recognition events. She volunteered everywhere; FTA, the nature center, the fairgrounds, her church… and she did this all her life. She was the best person for everything.” Mostly importantly though, Daisy was a part of their regularly scheduled hikes and breakfasts. She was always there, a cornerstone of the group.
The FTA couldn’t exist without volunteers like Daisy, who will live on in memory among the chapter members and in Okeeheelee Park.
Ididahike 2021 is Cancelled
Due to COVID-19 Concerns
From the Apalachee Chapter:
A group of volunteers has been working for months to bring you the best IDIDAHIKE experience possible, showcasing the amazing outdoor opportunities and hospitality that the Apalachee Chapter’s area has to offer. We were truly excited by what we had planned for you.
However, with the uncertainty of the current global pandemic and with due regard for the health and safety of our volunteers, participants, and the host communities, we are making the difficult decision to cancel the 2021 IDIDAHIKE events.
As disappointed as we are in the circumstances, the groundwork is laid for an awesome 2022 IDIDAHIKE and we are going to use the extra time to make the event even more amazing! Thank you for your understanding. Stay safe and we look forward to seeing you in February 2022!
Florida Trail Association | 1-877-HIKE-FLA | floridatrail.org