Florida Trail Association
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June 2020 E-blaze

June 2020
Our Ongoing COVID-19 Response
This month, FTA and USFS staff have continued our diligent efforts toward creating new operating procedures for trail maintenance events in order to mitigate public health concerns amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It is our goal to give FTA chapters the option to resume volunteer projects as soon and safely as possible.
Over the coming weeks our staff will be working with volunteer leadership to ensure that each of our chapters are equipped with the necessary cleaning supplies and protective equipment. Staff will also be conducting outreach to ensure that crew leaders are well versed in our soon to be released COVID-19 Job Hazard Analysis form.
We would like to acknowledge and commend the resilience of our FTA volunteers despite stressful and unexpected changes over the past few months. As the fall maintenance season approaches, we’ll release a tentative staff-supported Volunteer Work Party calendar for the 2020/2021 season. We understand that not everyone can or should participate in-person this season. There are other ways to get involved and support FTA’s mission including donating, or spreading the word about our work.
Thank you for your patience, and we look forward to reconnecting with our FTA community this maintenance season!
The FTA’s Guiding Principles on
Diversity & Inclusion
The Florida Trail Association (FTA) welcomes everyone. As an organization, we advocate for issues that further the interest of the Florida Trail and our mission. The FTA commits to welcoming and embracing all forms of diversity within our community of trail users, volunteers, members, staff, and partner organizations. This includes, but is not limited to, diversity of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, veteran status, age, political affiliation, socioeconomic status, and outdoor experience/ability.
Our organization is working internally, and collaboratively with our partners, to:
• Acknowledge that many demographic groups are underrepresented within the FTA community.
• Identify barriers to becoming involved with our organization or hiking our network of trails, and reduce those barriers to the greatest extent possible.
• Recognize that there have been historical injustices that have prevented people from accessing Florida’s public lands. We view these obstacles as moral opportunities to bridge gaps for underrepresented communities.
• Acknowledge original inhabitants of Florida and their historic legacy to Florida’s public lands.
• Establish an expectation of mutual respect in the interactions that happen across our Association.
• Foster an inclusive community that values and engages the perspectives and contributions of all individuals beyond social, political, and cultural boundaries.
• Encourage all trail advocates and enthusiasts to join us in investing time in broadening our understanding of systemic barriers.
The FTA is actively working toward these goals, and we welcome feedback on how we can achieve them more effectively. We recognize that our individual actions and words do matter. We are committed to perpetual growth and learning and will continually observe successes and mistakes in our efforts to enhance justice, equity, diversity and inclusion within our organization.
Recreating on trails should allow all people the ability to connect with nature, to grow as individuals and to heal. Members of the FTA community share a strong bond in our dedication to the Florida Trail and hiking in Florida. Everyone who shares an interest in our mission should feel welcome and safe in the FTA family.
Passed by the FTA Board on June 25th, 2020
Outdoor Afro (https://outdoorafro.com/) has become the nation’s leading network that celebrates and inspires African American connections and leadership in nature, letting people know that they are welcome in the outdoors to build community and find healing. We at the FTA are grateful for our collaborative partnership with Outdoor Afro and support their cause.
Senate Passes
Last week, for the first time ever, the Senate has voted to fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Great American Outdoors Act was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support! This is a significant stride for environmental conservation.
The next step is for the House to vote on this vital legislation that supports outdoor recreation across the country.
https://www.lwcfcoalition.com/
FTA Awards 2020
In light of the 2020 FTA Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony cancelation due to COVID-19 (originally scheduled for April), we want to recognize the dedicated volunteers and members who have earned this year’s honorary FTA Awards. For descriptions of each award’s signfiicance, visit: https://www.floridatrail.org/florida-trail-association-awards/
Once it is determined safe to host in-person chapter meetings again, these individuals will be recognized by their respective chapters with complete descriptions of their accomplishments and services and will also be receiving physical award plaques. Until then, we want to express our sincere gratitidue for these outstanding individual’s contributions to the FTA mission and community.
Introducing Austin Tezak
Our New Gateway Communities Coordinator
Join us in welcoming Austin Tezak to the FTA staff team as our new Gateway Communities Coordinator. Austin recently graduated from the University of Florida where he studied Wildlife Ecology and developed a passion for the conservation of our public lands. Previously, Austin worked as a wildlife technician in the rainforests of Puerto Rico. In his free time, Austin enjoys going on adventures and finding new springs to kayak or float around in.
Austin is working in our Gainesville headquarters and is excited to get out on the road and to meet community members as soon as it is safe to do so. In the meantime, he has been working on plans to expand our Gateway Communities program with new cities and passport locations, revamping the Gateway Communities pages on our FTA website, and installing dedicated kiosks within some of our participating communities. Austin is eager to meet the FTA community over the next several months and is looking forward to facilitating the growth of this important program.
This internship position is made possible by a grant from the Partnership for the National Scenic Trails (PNTS). For the third year in a row, in an effort to provide greater opportunities, PNTS—in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and U.S. Forest Service—has provided the FTA with intern grants that allow for young adults to become professionally involved in our national trails.
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/
Florida Trail Association | 1-877-HIKE-FLA | floridatrail.org