Florida Trail Association
Welcome to

The Florida Trail

October 2020 E-blaze

October 2020
The FTA Welcomes Royce Gibson
as the new Executive Director
Royce Gibson was recently selected as the Florida Trail Association’s (FTA) new executive director. Gibson began work this week leading the organization in its mission to build, maintain, protect, and promote the Florida National Scenic Trail (Florida Trail), along with a network of hiking trails throughout the state of Florida.
David Waldrop, president of the FTA’s board of directors said “The board and staff are excited to have Royce on-board to lead our organization. We feel Royce brings an extensive background in fundraising, advocacy and outreach as the former senior development director for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. With Royce leading our organization, we feel we are poised for new growth and increased awareness about our organization and the Florida National Scenic Trail both in Florida and nationally. “
Gibson has worked in various roles at non-profit organizations for over 25 years. He served as the senior director of membership and development at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) for over 11 years. While there, he built a team and a program which significantly improved and increased the organization’s fundraising program and revenue. Recently he has worked with the Friends of San Juan National Historic Site and at ATC in a consulting capacity.
“It is an honor and a privilege to begin this journey, and to lead this very dedicated team of volunteers, members and staff,” said Gibson. “I am excited to advocate for the Florida Trail and to increase the support and awareness of the Florida Trail Association. I look forward to meeting our members, volunteers, and our state and federal partners.”
2020 – 2021 Volunteer Work Parties
Volunteer Opportunities Now Available
with more soon to come!
We have Volunteer Work Parties posted for this fall and winter! Be sure to regularly check our Volunteer Opportunities page throughout the maintenance season as we will continue to confirm and post more work parties happening throughout the state.
Join our trail crews and become a steward of the beautiful Florida Trail. Our Volunteer Work Parties are a fun and unique way for folks to connect with Florida’s wildlands and play a role in maintaining and constructing our scenic footpath. Register to join today!
Osceola Maintenance Marathon
A successful first volunteer work party of the season
North Florida Trail Program Manager, Jeff Glenn, writes:
The first Florida Trail Volunteer Work Party of the season wrapped up a couple of weeks ago on the Osceola National Forest. With high temps and humidity, the crew sweated our way through a swampy section of trail, badly overgrown and in need of a tune up. This is generally the case, as the pine flatwoods of the Osceola are prone to flooding and also rampant growth if there has been a lot of rain. No matter, the crew at this party worked hard and had a blast as we navigated and adapted to the conditions. With this being the first work party of the COVID-19 times, we also tested the waters of how far apart we could stay from each other and just how many times it was possible to wash our hands each day. Turns out, our new hands-free hand washing station works like a charm and people were diligent about sanitation.
Over 5 work days, we accomplished our goal of maintaining all 20 miles of trail in the Osceola National Forest and did an additional 8 miles along the Suwannee River. Having two crews meant we could really get to work and get after those miles. This past Saturday, while installing a brand new campsite along the Suwannee River in Stephen Foster, an early season thru-hiker named “Chopsticks” came along and was thrilled by the maintained trail through that section. Best of luck to him as he makes his way to Pensacola!
There are many more Volunteer Work Parties left this season and hopefully they are all as successful and safe as the first one. Hope to see you all out on the trail!
Closure at the FT Northern Terminus
Effective 10/8/2020:
The Fort Pickens, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa areas of Gulf Islands National Seashore remain closed due to effects caused by Hurricane Sally. J. Earle Bowden Way, Highway 399 between Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach, and Fort Pickens Road were severely impacted by the storm and will not resume normal operations for several months. A timeline for road reconstruction or limited reopening is not currently available. Opal Beach remains heavily inundated with sand, but damage to facilities was limited. In the Fort Pickens Area, boardwalks, pavilions, the ferry pier, the old camp store, and all historic wooden structures were damaged.
As a result of this closure, the Florida Trail terminus marker at Fort Pickens is currently unreachable. Thru hikers are encouraged to consider these two alternative options:
• Option 1: Hikers may begin or end a thru-hike at the current furthest-north accessible point along the FT. As of October 8th, this point is the GINS boundary in Navarre Beach. Once Highway 399 reopens, this temporary terminus point will shift to Pensacola Beach.
• Options 2: Hikers may begin or end a thru-hike at the Alabama border terminus of the Blackwater Section, an official FT connector.
Your Vote Matters
Your vote in the 2020 election is critical in advancing equitable access to the outdoors and expanding outdoor recreation and conservation.
Does your Member of Congress support public lands? Explore the key issues to be strong public lands advocates. Visit: http://votepubliclands.org/
FTA Board of Directors
Nominations for the Florida Trail Association’s
2021 Board of Directors are now being accepted
Board Director, Darryl Updegrove, writes:
The call for nominations is now open for FTA’s 2021 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 President, First Vice President Governance and Administration, Secretary and three at-large board members. The term for officers is two years, and three years for at-large positions, beginning after the annual meeting on Saturday, April 3rd, 2021.
The Nominating Committee will select the slate based on nominations received. A slate of officers and at-large Board members for 2021 will be voted upon via electronic voting beginning January 2021. In addition to this, we will include a mail-in voting option in the Winter Footprint. The election results will be announced at the April 2021 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 2021 Florida Trail Association Board of Directors. For more information on our current Board of Directors as well as the general and specific responsibilities of our board members, visit: https://www.floridatrail.org/about-us/ourboard/.
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
Ididahike 2021
Save the Date
Florida Trail Association | 1-877-HIKE-FLA | floridatrail.org