Florida Trail Association
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The Florida Trail

November 2018 E-Blaze

November 2018
2018-2019 Florida Trail Data Book & Maps
It’s prime preparation time for the Florida Trail hiking season!
The up-to-date 2018-2019 Florida Trail Data Book and printed maps are now available through the FTA store!
2018-19 Florida Trail Data Book & Maps!
Western Corridor Puncheon Project
Work continues in the Ocala National Forest
Puncheon Project Oct 2018
Over the course of 16 days of consecutive work in October, over 40 individual volunteers worked tirelessly to remove and replace hundreds of tons of puncheon material in Ocala National Forest. FTA volunteers not only removed completely rotten structures, but installed new ones in their place. Please enjoy this video of some our all-star FTA volunteers and staff hard at work removing and installing puncheon.
Work continues on the Western Corridor Puncheon Project with two upcoming December work parties!
Be prepared to work hard, learn new skills, have a fantastic time, and make a huge difference.
A message from the Panhandle Chapter
Hurricane Michael Recovery
Panhandle Chapter Chair and Committee Chair, Darryl and Melissa Updegrove, write:
Hello fellow hikers!
We have been through an unbelievable event. All that was familiar to us is no longer.
Sadly, our trails are no different in this regard. The winds blew hard in my yard and took down massive, sprawling ancient oaks. So too with our trails.
The old growth is laid down to the ground . There is no easy, enjoy- able passage on the FT/FNST in our area at this time. A lot of blood, sweat and tears will be required to simply make them passable and
let’s face it … they won’t be the trails we’ve known.
So what do we do now?
We step into the future carrying our memories, our hopes and a chain saw. We chop down, saw up, and clear out. We work together, chug water and down some GORP. Then we grab a walking stick,don a pair of hikers over wool socks and start walking. We look at
the sun in the sky, feel the breeze on our skin, watch the sun set and the stars appear. We discover pitcher plants, spot a warbler, wonder over a parcel of hog. We go when it’s cold, when it’s hot, when it’s raining, when it’s dry…
We put one foot in front of the other whether fast or slow, alone or
with others and then…we hike.
The Water Management Areas (WMA) are starting to open their areas to hunting and hiking.  However, most of the Florida National Scenic Trail through our chapter is still not in a hikable condition.  Our trail maintainers are starting to get out to the trail heads to assess damage levels, determine how to address them, and get work parties scheduled.  If you’ve never done a work party before, soon there will be many opportunities to contribute to trail maintenance.  Other good news is that Two-Penny Bridge is being cleared and Fender Bridge survived the hurricane, so our two beautiful suspension bridges will one day be usable again.  The report from the Pine Log section of our trail is that it is not in terrible shape but there are trees down.  We expect to start working on clearing some of those areas soon.  Be patient, but we’re going to start making progress and getting trails open as soon as we can in a safe manner. Our meetup site for finding future work party events is:
Please join us.
This just isn’t the time to give up on “our” trail.
Hurricane damage at Two-Penny Bridge
News from the Panhandle
Trail Conditions Update
Photos captured before and after clearing a bridge in Econfina
Panhandle Trail Manager, Adam Fryska, writes:
Almost two months after Hurricane Michael, many Florida Panhandle communities are continuing the hard work of recovery and rebuilding. We’re getting our first hints of a return to normalcy, and our hiking community is once again yearning to get out on the Florida Trail. With this goal in mind, our staff, volunteers, and partners have been making great progress towards ensuring the FT is safe and accessible.
At this point, our land management partners have reopened the State Forests, National Forest Districts, and Water Management Areas that were impacted by the storm. That said, hikers should not expect optimal trail conditions for quite some time; tree and flooding impacts are widespread, even as far as Nokuse and the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Some scrambling around blowdowns and wet feet are to be expected. The Econfina and Chipola sections are particularly hard-hit, and the trail in these areas remains impassable for all practical purposes. In many sections the trail is buried under an enormous pile of blowdowns, particularly along Econfina Creek, and restoration in this area will likely not be complete until well into the spring. On the bright side, we’re happy to report that our two major bridges (Fender and Two-Penny) survived the destruction of the surrounding forest.
Elsewhere in the region trail conditions have been rapidly improving as crews access the trail and begin maintenance. We’re happy to share that the entire Florida Trail within the Apalachicola National Forest is now open. A tremendous amount of work was put in by FTA volunteers and a professional trail crew from the Student Conservation Association. These crews patrolled over 20 miles of heavily impacted trail, clearing huge blowdowns, repairing puncheon, and re-blazing the trail. FTA and SCA were also able to work side-by-side at the first regional Volunteer Work Party of the season, doing significant work around the Schuler Bay area. These joint efforts are a big part of why we were able to open this trail so soon after the storm, and we’re extremely thankful to our Apalachee volunteers for their hard work!
With the ANF now open, our attention is shifting to the hard-hit Econfina and Chipola sections. The Panhandle Chapter is beginning recovery work this weekend with a Volunteer Work Party based out of Pine Log State Forest. Over the next few weeks we’ll continue to assess conditions and mobilize resources, with plans in the works for additional VWPs to tackle the extensive blowdowns in Econfina. For our skilled sawyers, please keep your eye on the FTA social media accounts for information about these future opportunities!
Working with FTA and SCA volunteers at the recent Apalachicola National Forest work party
New & Free FTA app!
Panhandle Trail Manager, Adam Fryska, writes:
This past month, a wonderful new resource was made available to the Florida Trail community with the release of a FREE Florida Trail Association iPhone app. The app puts the Florida Trail at your fingertips; using the official FNST data synced directly from the USFS, trail users can navigate the map to find information on campsites, trailheads, and more. Map data can even be pre-loaded on your iPhone for use in areas without cell reception. Try it out on your next hike! Feedback is appreciated, and can be provided directly from the app.
In addition to the mapping functions, the app links to a variety of important information provided by Florida Trail Association. Users can access our social media accounts, get up-to-date information on trail closures and notices, and learn about volunteer opportunities and how to get involved with their local Chapters. This makes the app a great outreach tool, and we encourage the FTA community to share it with hikers and prospective volunteers.
The project to create this FTA iPhone app has been a labor of love by Panhandle Chapter volunteer Manuel Gomez. Manuel is an activity leader and trail maintainer of the Econfina section. His work along the trail led him to see the need for a free and easy-to-use FTA map application. The project took over a year of research and implementation work, with Manuel devoting hundred of hours of his time towards its development. The fact that this resource was generously gifted to the Florida hiking community is a testament to the passion and love our volunteers have for the Florida Trail. Thank you Manuel!
With the release of this iPhone version, many of our volunteers have reached out about the possibility of an Android version. We’re exploring the possibility of porting the app to the Android platform, and Manuel is willing to collaborate with partners who have the necessary development experience. While we explore the possibility of raising funds for this project, we also want to reach out to our volunteer community to see if anyone from our community has the skill and desire to contribute. Do you have any experience with Android app development? Would you be interested in helping with the development of an FTA app? If so, please get in touch, we’d love to see this resource made available to a larger audience! E-mail us at volunteer@floridatrail.org.
Fall 2018 Footprint Magazine
Check out the digital version of our recent Footprint edition!
Wild & Scenic Film Festival
January 26, 2019 @ Swamp Head Brewery, Gainesville FL
The Florida Trail Association is proud to present:
For this outdoor screening, we chose a unique program of environmental and adventure films that illustrate the Earth’s beauty. They also show the challenges facing our planet and the communities working to protect it. Climb the highest peaks and trek across the globe with adventure films from around the world. You’ll witness how individuals and communities across the globe are taking action.
There will be 14 films, live music, exciting raffle items, beverages including a special one-night-only Florida Trail Ale (courtesy of Swamp Head Brewery), and food vendors. Folks will also have the chance to interact with local, Florida-based organizations dedicated to supporting outdoor recreation and environmental conservation throughout the state.
**Ticket prices:
$14 @ Door ($10 Pre-Pay) – General Admission
$12 @ Door ($8 Pre-Pay) – Students, Senior Citizens (55 and older), and Veterans (with valid ID presented at event)
$12 @ Door ($8 Pre-Pay) – Active FTA Members (with confirmation by FTA Administrators
Free for Youth (10 and younger)
***Purchase advance tickets HERE***
Join us for an evening of inspiration and connection!
Wild & Scenic Film Festival Teaser
2018 South Regional Conference
Florida Trail Association
2018 South Regional Conference
Hosted by the Happy Hoofers Chapter
Tanah Keeta Scout Reservation
December 7—9, 2018
In the Footsteps of our Predecessors
Speakers will take us back in time to learn of the history of our land. Topics include the Seminole Wars, history of the Loxahatchee Refuge, Loop Road and logging in Fakahatchee Strand. Activities include hiking and paddling the Loxahatchee River.
See the conference schedule for activities, speakers and entertainment. There will be a WazNu Raffle, Silent and Live Auctions.
You can come for the weekend or just for one day (Saturday). Lodging facilities are available along with meals (vegetarian options available). Walk-ins are welcome.
For conference schedule and registration, visit the Happy Hoofers’ websitewww.hoofers.floridatrail.org
For additional information or questions, contact Happy Hoofers:happyhoofers@bellsouth.net
Save the Date
Upcoming Volunteer Work Parties & FTA Special Events
Wilderness First Aid &
Wilderness First Responder
Upcoming Course Announcements
December 08-09, Gainesville FL: Florida Outdoor Academy Wilderness First Aid/Wilderness First Responder Recertification
Exclusive discount to FTA Members for the Florida Outdoor Academy WFA course
January 10-18, Apopka, FL: Lewis & Clark College Wilderness First Responder Certification
FTA Board of Directors
Nominations for the Florida Trail Association’s 2019 Board of Directors are now being accepted
Board Director, Megan Eidel, writes:
The call for nominations is now open for Florida Trail Association’s (FTA) 2019 Board of Directors, and we are seeking candidates for at-large Board Member positions.
FTA has a 15-member Board. Nominations may be submitted for President, Vice-President (VP) Development and Outreach, VP Membership, VP Governance, VP Trails, Secretary, and three at-large board members. Terms for officers is two years, and at-large positions is three years, beginning after the annual meeting on April 6, 2019.
The Nominating Committee will select the ballot based on nominations received. A ballot of officers and at-large Board members for 2019 will be voted upon via electronic voting beginning sometime early 2019. In addition to this, we will include a mail-in voting option in the Winter Footprint. The elections will be announced at the April 2019 Annual Meeting.
Serving on FTA’s Board of Directors is a rare chance to help the organization face challenges, provide creative solutions, contribute to a fast-growing trail program, and affect long-term positive change. Board service also offers you the opportunity to grow personally and professionally, to develop valuable skills in non-profit governance, gain unique experience and make lasting connections with a team of other passionate and motivated professionals.
Please consider serving on the Board and submitting a nomination for the 2019 Florida Trail Association Board of Directors. For more information on our current Board of Directors, and Board Member Responsibilities, visit: https://www.floridatrail.org/about-us/ourboard/.
Please send your nominations to Megan Eidel at meganedonoghue@gmail.com.
Nominations should include the following information:
1. Name of Nominee, address and contact information (including email address);
2. Brief statement or cover letter outlining why the nominee would like to be a board member;
3. Resume or Short background on the candidate in question (work history, non-profit experience, involvement with the FTA, interests etc.); and
4. Reference (optional).
Thank You,
Megan Eidel
FTA Nominating Committee Chair
**** NOMINATIONS CLOSE Saturday, December 1st, 2018 ****
Florida Trail Association | 1-877-HIKE-FLA | floridatrail.org