Florida Trail Association
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Trekking Onward into 2020

January 2020
Looking Back on 2019
& Trekking Onward into 2020
The Florida Trail Association’s mission to build, maintain, protect and promote our unique Florida National Scenic Trail along with a network of hiking trails throughout the state would not be possible without the collaborative effort of the US Forest Service, our volunteers and partner organizations. As we move forward into this new year and new decade, we want to thank all of our FTA volunteers, members and partners for your tremendous contributions. It is through the dedicated service and advocacy of our FTA community that the Florida Trail can continue to thrive as a vibrant resource throughout our state, from the Glades to the Gulf.
In 2019, over 500 volunteers contributed 23,195 hours to the mission of the Florida Trail Association; 122 of those were new volunteers. Our valuable volunteers and partners establish and blaze the paths to make this treasured corridor accessible. Over 360,000 people every year set foot on the Florida Trail. That number continues to grow as our FTA volunteer community and membership grows.
With our deepest appreciation, we wish you happy trails and good cheer in this new year.
We are grateful to our dedicated FTA Chapters as well as these
Partner groups we’ve had the pleasure of working with in 2019:
Current Florida Trail Mileage Breakdown:
*Please note: The total trial mileage is fluid as the USFS and the FTA are continuously working to re-reroute and designate new trail
Total Florida Trail length: 1,583.92 miles
Total designated trail length: 1,109.5 miles
Total connector length: 446.66 miles
Total spur trail length: 27.75 miles
  • FT on National Forest Service lands: 200.82 miles
  • FT on FT Properties & Easements: 18.75 miles
  • Apalachicola National Forest: 73.56 miles
  • Osceola National Forest: 30.42 miles
  • Ocala National Forest: 96.82 miles
  • FT on State Forests: 150.55 miles, 8 state forests
  • FT on DEP, Division of Recreation & Parks Lands: 154.06 miles
  • FT on State Parks: 46.36 miles. 9 Parks
  • FT on Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission Lands: 73.28 miles, 9 properties
  • FT on US Fish & Wildlife Service Lands: 41 miles, 1 property
  • FT on Water Management District Lands: 169.67 miles
  • FT on Dept. of Defense Lands: 66.2 miles, Eglin AFB
  • US National Park Service: 53.37 miles, 2 properties
Exciting news from the Panhandle
Econfina is Accessible Again!
Panhandle Trail Program Manager, Adam Fryska, writes:
The FTA is happy to announce that the Econfina Section has been re-opened following the catastrophic damage sustained during Hurricane Michael. This was a monumental effort, requiring 4 major staff-supported Volunteer Work parties, 2 multi-week hitches by professional sawyer crews supported by FTA volunteers, and numerous Panhandle Chapter maintenance and scouting days. Well over 2,000 hours of work were logged by FTA volunteers, Framing Our Community staff, and USFS personnel in the completion of this project. We extend a heartfelt “thank you” to the dedicated trail workers who contributed to the re-opening of this much-used and appreciated section of trail.
While the trail has been cleared of major blowdowns and is now passable for the entire distance between the Highway 20 and Scott Road trailheads, conditions still remain difficult. Longtime hikers of Econfina may be shocked by the changes; many sections suffered near-total tree loss, and what was once a pleasant, shady forest path is now exposed to the sun and experiencing tremendous new growth of vines and thorny underbrush. In some areas, hikers are essentially passing through a narrow tunnel of bucked logs and branches from the cleared blowdowns. We will continue to clear and widen the trail corridor this field season, and we’re looking forward to watching this beautiful area start to regenerate.
Keep an eye on the Panhandle Chapter Meetup page for upcoming volunteer opportunities and hikes in Econfina!
Econfina Creek group hikes at the Panhandle Gathering, Nov. 2019
Building More Than Trails
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
On December 13-15, we hosted a successful volunteer work party with two valuable FTA partner groups, Outdoor Afro and Girls Who Hike Florida. Girls Who Hike Florida was created by Angie Vasquez to get more women out on the trails here in the beautiful state of Florida.The goal of Girls Who Hike Florida is to unite women of all ages and backgrounds who love to hike and explore. Outdoor Afro has become the nation’s leading, cutting edge network that celebrates and inspires African American connections and leadership in nature. Outdoor Afro is a national non-profit organization with leadership networks around the country. With nearly 80 leaders in 30 states from around the country, they are changing the face of conservation as they connect thousands of people to outdoor experiences.
In two days, the crew cleared over twelve miles of the Florida Trail in the Western Corridor of the Ocala National Forest. Among the group, we had three new volunteers who had never done trail maintenance before and several who expertly operated hedge trimmers, brushcutters and mowers for their first time. Everyone did an amazing job. Enthusiasm, good stories and great humor were shared throughout the weekend. We look forward to working with both of these important groups again on the FT!
3rd Annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival
The Wild & Scenic Film Festival (WSFF) was started in 2003 by the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL, pronounced ‘circle’), a nonprofit river conservation organization located in Nevada City, CA in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.The organization was formed in 1983 when a small group of concerned citizens banded together to fight against several proposed dams. The festival’s namesake is in celebration of achieving Wild & Scenic status on 39 miles of the South Yuba River in 1999. The festival celebrates its annual event in Nevada City, CA each January featuring over 125 award-winning films and welcoming filmmakers, celebrities, and activists who bring a human face to the environmental movement.
SYRCL’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival is a call to action! The films illustrate not only the challenges facing our planet but the work communities are doing to protect the environment and the places we love. The stories give us a sense of place and what it means to be responsible stewards of the earth.
Once the curtain closes in Nevada City, SYRCL shares their success with other organizations by taking the film festival On Tour to 185+ communities worldwide. The tour is building a grassroots network of organizations connected by a common goal of using film to inspire activism.The Florida Trail Association is thrilled to host this festival for our third time. This year’s event will include an array of inspiring films, speakers, tabling organizations, raffle items, live music, yoga, food and beverages.
All event proceeds will go to support the Florida Trail Association and the U.S. Forest Service’s efforts to complete the Florida Trail by closing gaps in the FT through long-range planning, acquisition and agreements for long term protection of the trail corridor.
2019 Wild & Scenic Film Festival Trailer
Footprint Magazine
Check out the latest Fall/Winter 2019 Edition of the Footprint!
FTA Southern Regional Conference
Hosted Dec. 13-15, 2019 by the Loxahatchee Chapter
Photos captured by Jennifer Jones-Reynolds
The Choctawhatchee Chapter Seeks
Participants in the Panhandle
Gum and Big Fork Creeks @ Eglin, Volunteer Work Party
January 11 and 12, 2020
Come help the Choctawhatchee Chapter install fiberglass roofing shingles on two major boardwalks on the Eglin Reservation. The project objective is to reduce potential hiker injury from slippery, wet boardwalks and bridges on the Florida Trail in Walton and Okaloosa Counties. The project began in 2016 with the donation of shingles from a local contractor. Since then volunteers have installed shingles on over 5,000 feet of boardwalks on Eglin. The objective for this phase is Gum and Big Fork Creeks. Between the two creeks there are over 1,500 feet of boardwalks. Crews will be transporting and installing shingles on these boardwalks.
Volunteers should bring: plenty of fluids, lunch each day, insect repellent, gloves, hard hat, hammer and utility knife. Due to the nature of the work and location, NO PETS will be permitted during the workday. Safety equipment will be provided.
This is a two-day chapter-led, weekend work party with the option of signing up for one or both days on the Choctawhatchee Chapter Meetup. LINK: https://www.meetup.com/Florida-Trail-Choctawhatchee-Chapter/events/htsvkrybccbpb/
Volunteers are responsible for their own lodging and meals. The crew leader, Tom Daniel (850 341-1389), is camping at Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park starting Friday, Jan. 10th leaving Monday, Jan. 13th. Others are welcome to join him at the park! LINK: https://www.reserveamerica.com/explore/fred-gannon-rocky-bayou-state-park/FL/281065/overview If there is enough interest the chapter will host a pot luck meal at the park on Saturday night.
Donated Shingles
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. 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
***Deadline extended: NOMINATIONS CLOSE JAN. 15, 2020 ***
Save the Date
12th Annual Ididahike
March 6 – 7, 2020
Inverness, FL
Florida Trail Association | 1-877-HIKE-FLA | floridatrail.org