Florida Trail Association
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September 2019 E-blaze

September 2019
National Public Lands Day
“Our public lands – whether a national park or monument, wildlife refuge, forest or prairie – make each one of us land-rich. It is our inheritance as citizens of a country called America.”
– Terry Tempest Williams
North Florida Trail Program Manager, Jeff Glenn, writes:
This past weekend, the FTA partnered with REI in hosting a Volunteer Work Party on the Western Corridor of the Florida Trail. Established in 1994 and held annually on the fourth Saturday in September, National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort. It celebrates the connection between people and green space in their community, inspires environmental stewardship, and encourages use of open space for education, recreation, and health benefits.
19 volunteers (including an awesome turnout of 15 new volunteers) and 2 FTA staff maintained the FT through Silver Springs State Park and the southwest corner of the Ocala National Forest. This was the location of last year’s major puncheon project which was also funded in coordination with REI. Crew members braved the unseasonably warm fall temperatures but were rewarded with afternoon paddle boarding and swimming in Fore Lake after work. As always, the food was abundant and outstanding, the camaraderie was excellent, and the work was challenging but fun. This was the first volunteer event of the season and it was an great way to kick it off.
A big thank you to REI Jacksonville & REI Winter Park for promoting and co-hosting this commemorative work party with us as well as to the Ocala Forest Service for providing snack bars and public land daypasses to our participants.
National Public Lands Day
Photo credit: Jacob Zehnder
Tosohatchee Trail Maintenance with Sierra Club
In honor of National Public Lands Day, Trail Program Director, Kelly Wiener, partnered with members of the Turtle Coast Group of the Sierra Club to complete trail work in Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area (WMA), located in Christmas, FL.
Shaped by alternating cycles of fire and flood, the Tosohatchee WMA is a mosaic of freshwater marshes, swamps, pine flatwoods and hardwood hammocks. The forested uplands support white-tailed deer, bobcats, fox squirrels, bald eagles, gray foxes, turkeys, hawks, owls, and many species of songbirds. The WMA also contains a variety of rare and endangered species of flora, including orchids and hand ferns.
On Saturday, Kelly and 7 Sierra Club volunteers cleared approximately 2 miles of the Florida Trail in Tosohatchee WMA. They were greeted with sunny skies and beautiful wildflowers along the way. Thank you to the Turtle Coast Group of the Sierra Club for joining us in giving back to the FT and our precious public lands this weekend.
Photo credit: Jacob Zehnder
7th Annual Trail Skills Training
September 20-22, 2019
Community Outreach Manager, Van Tran, writes:
Our 7th Annual Trail Skills Training hosted at Camp La-No-Che was another tremendous success! New and veteran volunteers from throughout the state participated in this three-day interactive training. This year, we had a total of 59 participants– of which, 33 took part in the Technical Skills course and 26 completed the Wilderness First Aid course. Also in attendance this year were thousands of lovebugs. 🙂 Throughout the weekend, no outside surface was spared of these vagrants— as you can see in the above photo of one of our new Billy Goat mowers. However, what better folks to withstand uncontrollable natural phenomena than a group of outdoorsy and resilient FTA volunteers! In addition to having enthusiastic participants, we were also blessed with extraordinarily pleasant temperatures and early autumnal breezes.
This year, Wilderness First Aid was expertly instructed for a second consecutive time by Florida Outdoor Academy. The course is a balance of classroom instruction and hands-on practice that follows SOLO Wilderness Medicine curriculum. We received great feedback from the WFA students that the class was both informative and engaging. If you’re interested in taking a Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder course with the competent instructors at Florida Outdoor Academy, be sure to check out their website for future classes: https://floridaoutdooracademy.com/
The Technical Skills course had a great turnout– including 20 new, incredible volunteers who participated in their first Florida Trail maintenance at the training. Along with our regular curriculum of workshops including: Project Planning & Reporting, Tools of the Trail: Hand Tools, Leave No Trace, Emergency Response and the Mobile Trail Crew Workshop, we also provided some new and revised workshops including Florida Uplands Systems and Wayfinding & Scouting Trail Conditions. I taught the Florida Uplands Systems class and shared detailed information I learned through the UF/IFAS Florida Master Naturalist Program about Florida’s geological history, uplands systems, and some representative flora and fauna within these ecosystems. We concluded the class with a fun game of Cranium-style Trivia in which the class got to test their new FL Uplands Systems knowledge through an array of trivia questions, charades, Pictionary and clay sculpting.
Trail Program Director, Kelly Wiener, and Florida Trail Deputy Administrator, Philip Marley, co-instructed the Wayfinding & Scouting Trail Conditions workshop. This workshop was a revised version of the GIS Workshop taught in previous years. In this class, volunteers learned about a soon-to-be-launched Florida Trail GIS survey that the USFS is currently developing. The survey will be accessible via the ArcGIS Collector app and will be a platform for trail maintainers to report trail conditions and maintenance needs. This surveying platform will be a crucial tool for efficiently reporting and streamlining trail conditions when trail maintainers are out scouting the FT during maintenance-heavy periods following summertime or during storm damage assessment.
North Florida Trail Program Manager, Jeff Glenn, re-introduced and led the Tools of the Trail: Mechanical Tools workshop with the assistance of our FTA Technical Advisor, Abe Christian. This workshop dives into hands-on practice for how to operate, troubleshoot and maintain various mechanical tools we use on the trail including mowers, brushcutters, hedgetrimmers and chainsaws.
A big thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s Trail Skills Training and for the unique backgrounds and positive energy you each shared throughout the weekend. We would also like to recognize our valuable partners at REI who, along with joining as new volunteers at the training, provided s’mores, giveaway items and prizes during our Friday Trivia Night. Trail Skills is an exciting way for our staff to come together and launch another inspired maintenance season with our volunteers. It’s always a pleasure for us to host this event and we’re pleased to witness the FTA volunteer community thriving and growing with each year.
Celebrating the Suwannee
New Through Trail in Suwannee River State Park
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
Footprint Magazine
Check out the latest edition of the Footprint!
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.
12th Annual Ididahike
March 6 – 7, 2020
Inverness, FL
Florida Trail Association | 1-877-HIKE-FLA | floridatrail.org