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July 2020 E-blaze

July 2020
Updated COVID-19 Operating Procedures
As the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed, the FTA board, staff, and our U.S. Forest Service partners have been closely monitoring conditions in Florida, and working together to provide operating procedures that keep our members, staff, volunteers, partners and the public safe. The FTA board has voted to approve updated COVID-19 Operating Procedures, and rescind the previous May 14 procedure.
FTA functions and activities at the state or chapter levels can resume, as long as they are conducted in accordance with this procedure, as well as applicable local, state and federal requirements and guidelines. The overall goal is to minimize all participants’ possible exposure to the virus. By signing the FTA Assumption of Risk form, you will be acknowledging that you have reviewed the COVID-19 Operating Procedures and you will comply with them, and that you will follow the instructions of the persons in charge (Activity Leader, Trail Crew Leader, etc.).
To view the updated FTA COVID-19 Operating Procedures, and see other related resources, visit www.floridatrail.org/covid-19. We apprecate everyone’s patience, understanding and feedback during this unprecedented time. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to our staff with any questions or concerns.
A Victory for Land and Water Conservation
On Wednesday, July 22nd, Congress passed the landmark Great American Outdoors Act! It is now on its way to the President’s desk to become law! Through this legislation, millions across the country will have increased access to the outdoors, including communities that need it the most. The full, permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund will also ensure that public lands will receive the much needed care and maintenance they desperately need.
The hiking community sent thousands of messages and met with hundreds of congressional offices to build support for this bill and was instrumental in securing an inclusive public lands maintenance solution that included the Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Indian Education.
Gateway Communities Passport Program
New Passport Stamp for the Town of Ochopee
Gateway Communities Coordinator, Austin Tezak, writes:
This month, the FTA added a new location to the Gateway Communities passport program. Our passport program features 30 unique stamps housed at businesses and attractions along the Florida National Scenic Trail and in our 11 established Gateway Communities. Hikers simply purchase a passport from the FTA store, then present it at participating locations. A completed passport makes an excellent souvenir after your hike!
Our newest stamp location is at the smallest post office in the nation. This quaint post office is located 16 miles west of the southern terminus of the Florida Trail, in the town of Ochopee. This historic landmark is a fully functioning post office and a common stop for thru hikers arriving from out of town, starting their journey on the Florida Trail.
To learn more about the Gateway Communities passport program, visit our website.
IveGot1
An App for Prevention & Eradication of Invasive Species in FL
Central/South Trail Program Manager, Jenna Taylor, writes:
Florida is home to over 500 invasive species that impact both our waters and lands. The University of Florida is asking for help in tracking these invasive species throughout Florida.
The UF Invasive Species Program focuses on educating the public, collecting data on the spread and impact of invasives, and coordinating efforts for safe and effective removal. They encourage individuals to get involved in the following ways:
1.) Use the IveGot1 app- Developed through a collaborative agreement with the National Parks Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the University of Florida to report invasives. The aim is to better assess the extent of the infestations and hopefully eradicate new infestations before they become a problem. It also allows researchers to seek out outliers, a species popping up where it has never been before, so it can be addressed quickly before further spreading. The app is easy to use and allows a hiker to upload a gps location, description and photo. Hikers may also call 1-888-IveGot.
2.) Get involved with a local IFAS Invasive Program- Every county in Florida hosts a local UF IFAS Extension office where they tackle statewide issues at the local level.
3.) PlayCleanGo – This campaign focuses on reminding hikers and visitors of natural lands to always remember to clean gear,clothing and pets when moving from one location to another to prevent transfer of invasives. Long distance spread can place an invasive into a new environment without natural enemies where the aggressive species can rapidly take over.
As you return to the Trail, keep these simple opportunities in mind to help protect Florida’s native ecosystem. Everyone can play a role in the prevention and eradication of invasive species along the Florida Trail!
Footprint Magazine
Spring 2020 Edition
Check out our recent Spring 2020 Footprint Magazine Edition! This edition is packed with valuable insights about the Florida Trail and our FTA community including: a breakdown of the FT mileage, a recap of our environmental advocacy efforts at Hike the Hill, a Volunteer Spotlight of former all-star FTA President Leslie Wheeler, hurricane recovery in Econfina WMA, fun crossword puzzles, trail-inspired writing exercises & more!
Check out this edition and past Footprints at: https://www.floridatrail.org/about-us/footprint-magazine/
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