The Florida National Scenic Trail (FNST) is in danger of becoming a very different outdoor experience. On Sept. 5th the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) posted its vision of the future route of the FNST. In short, the USFS vision is to re-define the FNST as a single route trail from Big Cypress National Preserve (BCNP) to Ft. Pickens. This would require the removal of several hundred miles from FNST protection.
It would remove the FNST status for Our section between Etoniah State Forest, Gold Head State park, Camp Blanding and the Keystone Air Park and move it out of the woods and onto a bicycle path paralleling State Road 100. Our Chapter has been maintaining trail in Gold Head SP since the early 70s.
The USFS markets this vision as cost cutting (less FNST to fund). FTA sees this vision as short sighted and catastrophic for trail users and trail maintainers.
A second concern with the USFS vision is an incremental change for the FNST from its historic use as Pedestrian / Hiker to other non-motorized uses (bicycles and equestrian). FTA supports trails for these user groups but feels that the carrying capacity of the FNST treadway is not there for such uses. The current FNST was designed as a Pedestrian / Hiker pathway and to elevate it to bicycles or equestrian capacity would be cost prohibitive. What is feared is that the USFS will accomplish this by incrementally moving the route to limited access roads or multi-use pathways.
The FTA vision of the FNST is a narrow woodlands pathway where users can experience nature and solitude. FTA is asking you to get involved by providing your comments on these issues to the USFS.
The USFS has posted their vision map on the official Florida National Scenic Trail website, the official route proposal of the FNST and requests that comments be made at one of the open house sessions or e-mail directly to them. The official website is: http://www.fs.usda.gov/fnst .
We also ask that you provide input to the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT) on their proposals.
The OGT website is: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/FGTS_Plan/default.htm