Florida Trail Association
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The Florida Trail

October 2019 E-blaze

October 2019
Recovering the FT in Econfina
Panhandle Trail Program Manager, Adam Fryska, writes:
As our membership is no doubt aware, the Florida Trail in the Panhandle Region suffered a devastating blow from Hurricane Michael. With the one-year anniversary of the storm’s landfall now behind us, the volunteers of the Panhandle Chapter continue to work on rebuilding their heavily-used and much-loved section of trail along Econfina Creek.
As of Oct. 31, about 10 miles of the Econfina section have been cleared and are open to hikers. This includes a little more than 3 miles heading south from the Scott Road Trailhead past Two Penny Bridge and Apple Bridge. From the Highway 20 Trailhead, an additional 6 miles have been cleared up past Rattlesnake Lake. We still have 9 miles of heavily damaged trail to clear and rebuild along the lower sections of Econfina Creek. A season of summer growth has made an already difficult situation into an even greater challenge; in some areas our crews are encountering thick vines and newly sprouted underbrush entwined with the existing 10+ vertical feet of accumulated blowdowns. It’s painfully slow work; clearing 1/4 mile of trail in a day is an accomplishment.
The Panhandle Chapter has already hosted one large-scale Volunteer Work Party to tackle the Econfina damage; another will be taking place from Nov. 1-3. We’re also looking forward to the return of a professional sawyer crew from the USFS and Framing Our Community; working side-by-side with FTA volunteers, this group is hoping to make significant progress between Thanksgiving and Christmas. With all of these planned work activities, as well as regularly scheduled chapter-led maintenance, we’re optimistic about a route opening up through Econfina in time for the start of thru-hiking season in January, 2020.
What can you do to help? Volunteer! The Panhandle Chapter routinely posts maintenance events and volunteer opportunities on their Chapter Meetup page. Additional staff-supported events will also be posted on the FTA’s website. If you’re a local trail user who misses hiking along Econfina, now is the time to get involved! Our trails community was hit hard by the hurricane and our capacity has been greatly reduced in the last 12 months. Join us as we rebuild our maintenance program and reopen one of the hiking jewels of the Florida Panhandle.
Bear Canisters at Buck N’ Bass
The FTA & the USFS sponsor free bear canister rentals in the Ocala National Forest
North FL Trail Program Manager, Jeff Glenn, writes:
Florida Trail users can now rent bear canisters at no cost for overnight trips along the trail. There are currently twenty bear canisters (10 liter Backerpackers Cache 812 model) 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 (352) 685-0200. A fully refundable cash or check deposit is required at the time of rental.
In the next few months additional canisters will be available at the Juniper Springs Recreation Area. Stay tuned!
Ranch to Ridge Expedition
Building a Partnership with the FL Wildlife Corridor
Trail Program Director, Kelly Wiener, writes:
On October 24th, the FTA joined the Florida Wildlife Corridor on a portion of the Ridge to Ranch Expedition– a week-long journey focused on raising awareness about Central Florida’s wildlife corridor and the need to connect and protect it. 🐾
FTA leadership, along with leadership from other partners of the Florida Wildlife Corridor, joined the expedition team- Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, Joe Guthrie and Carlton Ward Jr., on their hike through Lake Wales Ridge State Forest. We were treated to scenic views, excellent birding, and opportunities to discuss how our organizations can work together toward our common goals.
You can continue to follow the Ranch to Ridge Expedition on social media (https://www.facebook.com/FloridaWildlifeCorridor/).
We will also be showing “The Last Green Thread”, a film documenting Florida Wildlife Corridor’s 2018 Heartland to Headwaters Expedition, at our upcoming Wild & Scenic Film Festival on January 25th at Swamp Head Brewery in Gainesville.
Big Oak Hike
Suwannee River State Park
North FL Trail Program Manager, Jeff Glenn, writes:
On October 4th, the FTA hosted a celebratory hike on the Big Oak section of the Florida Trail in Suwannee River State Park. The cause for this occasion was the recent re-opening of a once beloved portion of the trail along the Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers in Suwannee River State Park. For the past 6 years, a portion of private land blocked access in this area, thus causing the entire 5 mile section to be closed to thru-traffic and forcing a 2.5 mile roadwalk.
Approximately 25 hikers, including three families with young children, attended the event and were treated to guest speakers from partners who have collaborated with the FTA in this effort including the US Forest Service, Suwannee River State Park, and the local FTA Suwannee Chapter.
The FTA, with support from the Suwannee Bicycle Association and a private donor, purchased a trail easement through the private property which re-opened the trail and will now be accessible to the public for the first time since 2013. The easement, which will be maintained by the Suwannee Chapter of the FTA, was donated to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for management.
New Through Trail in Suwannee River State Park
Chainsaw Training
On October 11th-12th, twenty two FTA volunteers from all across the state participated in a Chainsaw Certification course hosted at Highlands Hammock State Park in Sebring. The course was instructed by Dennis Helton, Greg Helton, Kyle Titus and Ian Barlow.
FTA Board of Directors
Nominations for the Florida Trail Association’s 2020 Board of Directors are now being accepted
Board Director, Darryl Updegrove, writes:
The call for nominations is now open for FTA’s 2020 Board of Directors, and we are seeking candidates for at-large Board Member positions and three Officers.
FTA has a 15-member Board. Nominations may be submitted for Vice-President Membership, Vice-President Trails, Treasurer and four at-large board members. Terms for officers is two years, and at-large positions is three years, beginning after the annual meeting on April 4, 2020.
The Nominating Committee will select the slate based on nominations received. A slate of officers and at-large Board members for 2020 will be voted upon via electronic voting beginning sometime early 2020. In addition to this, we will include a mail-in voting options 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 2020 Florida Trail Association Board of Directors. For more information on our current Board of Directors, and Board Member Responsibilities, click here. To review the FTA Bylaws as well as the Duties & Powers of the Board Officers, click here.
Please send your nominations to Darryl Updegrove at: dupdegrove@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,
Darryl Updegrove
FTA Nominating Committee Chair
Save the Date
Upcoming FTA Special Events
Seminole State Forest Ribbon Cutting
Saturday, November 2nd in Eustis, FL
Join us in celebrating the opening of a new section of the Florida Trail in Seminole State Forest!
On November 2nd, 2019 the Florida Trail Association will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony and inaugural hike of a new constructed trail section. We are thrilled to share that this 5.3 mile reroute will remove 3.5 miles of road walk from the Florida Trail.
The event will be held at the Cassia Trailhead, located off of Brantley Branch Road, 0.1 miles east of State Road 44 in Eustis.
Event Schedule
10:00 AM Event begins. Enjoy coffee, refreshments, pastries and fruit. We will also feature tabling displays from a few of our partner organizations.
10:15 – 10:45 AM Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
11:00 AM Hike kick off. Biologist Ralph Risch will join the hike, stopping along the way to point out distinct species and ecosystems for those interested.
Please let us know your plans by following this registration link and filling out the form so we can adequately prepare for shuttling and breakfast quantities.
Any questions? Reach out to FTA staff member, Kelly Wiener, at kellyw@floridatrail.org or 518-369-9057.
The Panhandle Chapter Presents:
Join the Panhandle Chapter’s Meetup page & follow them on Facebook for continued updates.
FTA Southern Regional Conference
December 13 – 15, 2019
Jupiter, FL
Click here to register for this event.
3rd Annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival
12th Annual Ididahike
March 6 – 7, 2020
Inverness, FL
Florida Trail Association | 1-877-HIKE-FLA | floridatrail.org