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  1. #1
    Registered User Ladytrekker's Avatar
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    Angry Changes to Florida Trail

    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
    If you canít fix it with duct tape or a beer; it ainít worth fixing

  2. #2
    Registered User Ladytrekker's Avatar
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    The above message was drafted by my chapter chair of the North Florida chapter of the Florida Trails Association. I should have clarified the message.
    If you canít fix it with duct tape or a beer; it ainít worth fixing

  3. #3
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    That would be boring. Goldhead and Camp Blanding have one of the best sections of the FT.
    I'm not really a hiker, I just play one on White Blaze.

  4. #4
    Registered User louisb's Avatar
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    We just had the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails Open House for input on the proposed changes and I know several of the Appalachee chapter members went to give input. You can also give input online here:

    http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/fnst/home

    Thanks,

    --louis

  5. #5
    Registered User fcoulter's Avatar
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    I'm going to try to make it to the Sanford meeting. Bad news for me; it's currently budget season at my job, so I'm very busy. Good news; Sanford is on a Saturday.

    It's difficult to tell based on the small scale of the map, but it looks like it's also dropped the day's hike of the main trail between Loop Road and US 41. Am I reading the map correctly?

  6. #6
    Registered User fcoulter's Avatar
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    I added the following to the Wikipedia article on the Florida Trail. Feel free to edit it (with a neutral point of view) if you think I haven't said it correctly. (It would have been nice if I could refer to a press release by the Forest Service, but all I found was their front page, which isn't a permanent reference.)

    Proposed Reduction in Trail Length In 2012, the Forest Service proposed setting a final route designationo for the Florida Trail. The proposed final route designation moves the southern terminus from Loop Road north to US 41, removes the complete circumference around Lake Okeechobee from the route, and removes the Western portion of the trail which bypasses metropolitan Orlando. Critics have stated that the changes represent a change in the emphasis of the Florida Trail from a hiking oriented wilderness pathway to one which encompasses biking and equestrian activities, as a significant cost to the trail.[1]

  7. #7

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    If removing several hundred miles of trail from FNST protection allows them to buy/create a single 'roadwalk free' corridor, I would think an overwhelming majority would prefer to have a single route. Is this also part of the plan?

  8. #8
    Registered User louisb's Avatar
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    Hi pafarmboy,

    I think one of the main objections is that with the change to multiuse the trail will be pushed towards more roadwalks and less of a wilderness experience. It would be cost prohibitive to upgrade the current trail to multiuse otherwise.

    --louis

  9. #9

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    Your tax dollars at work! Amazing... First they severely limit the Red Snapper and other fisheries to sport fishing, now our trails? I'm about ready to expatriate.....this government is getting WAY too intrusive. I will quit ranting and start responding to the FS. Freaking unbelieveable
    Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. -Kahlil Gibran

  10. #10
    Registered User moytoy's Avatar
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    Ladytrekker: Are you saying that the paved path I see being constructed along SR100 near Keystone hts is proposed to take the place of the the trail through Goldhead? If so that is a shame and I can't understand the reason for that other than the simplicity of maintenance. I agree with Gray Blazer that the sections in Goldhead and Camp Blanding are great hikes.
    The proposal for the ONF is much more comprehensive that for other portions of the trail and I must say I agree with many of the changes proposed for this area.
    If I missed a link that gives details about the changes for Goldhead I would be interested is seeing that link.
    KK4VKZ -SOTA-SUMMITS ON THE AIR-
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  11. #11
    Registered User fcoulter's Avatar
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    Is there a way to find out how the proposed path is DIFFERENT than the current one? If you just look at the new route, it looks nice. But you can't tell what's being dropped.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by moytoy View Post
    the paved path I see being constructed along SR100 near Keystone hts
    The construction you see is the Palatka to Lake Butler Rail Trail. So far they have done most of the Keystone Heights to Florahome part and are starting on the Lake Butler part at the other end.

    It is the proposed route of the FT to get to Lake Butler.
    The trouble I have with campfires are the folks that carry a bottle in one hand and a Bible in the other.
    You never know which one is talking.

  13. #13
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    There is a write up on the proposed changes on Florida Hikes web site:

    http://www.floridahikes.com/defining...-florida-trail

    Specific changes made to the current designated route of the Florida Trail include:
    Map 1: Removal of Loop Road to Oasis. Oasis becomes the new southern terminus.
    Map 2: The East Side of Lake Okeechobee is selected as the designated route.
    Map 3: Western Corridor removed.
    Map 4: Western Corridor removed.
    Map 5: The Florida Trail through Etoniah State Forest, Gold Head Branch State Park, Camp Blanding, and Crystal Lake is eliminated. The Palatka-Lake Butler State Trail is the new route.
    Map 10: The roadwalk from Crestview to Eglin West is eliminated and replaced with a new route through Eglin Air Force Base south of I-10.
    The trouble I have with campfires are the folks that carry a bottle in one hand and a Bible in the other.
    You never know which one is talking.

  14. #14
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    The maps referred to (1-10) in my above post can be found at:

    http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_...rdb5389345.pdf
    The trouble I have with campfires are the folks that carry a bottle in one hand and a Bible in the other.
    You never know which one is talking.

  15. #15
    Registered User moytoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WingedMonkey View Post
    The construction you see is the Palatka to Lake Butler Rail Trail. So far they have done most of the Keystone Heights to Florahome part and are starting on the Lake Butler part at the other end.

    It is the proposed route of the FT to get to Lake Butler.
    Thanks WM.
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  16. #16
    "Without them we perish." eArThworm's Avatar
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    EVERYONE PLEASE send comments on the proposed changes. You don't have to
    be an FTA member. The Forest Service is trying to make these changes unilaterally,
    without the approval of the Florida Trail Association, whose members built and
    maintained and loved this trail through the years.

    Here's what our Apalachee Chapter Chair wrote--note email and postal mail addresses
    for comments, which ARE DUE TO THE FOREST SERVICE BY OCTOBER 5th:

    "Many members of our Chapter have said they wanted to comment on the USFS
    Trail Route Proposals and wanted to know what to say to support an FNST that
    provides them with the outdoors hiking experience they have learned to love.

    While the conversation grows complex, here are some basic points that I believe
    are consistent with FTA Board positions.

    1. Support keeping the FNST in its current route consistent with the FNST
    Comprehensive Plan. This route would include keeping some trail segments not
    shown in the USFS advertised single route corridor...segments such as the Western
    Corridor [and the] Western Lake Okeechobee trail. The Comprehensive Plan Route was
    never a single route.

    2. Keep the FNST, first and foremost, a hiking footpath in a wilderness setting,
    where ever possible, one that protects and improves the hiking experience over
    time. The FTA vision is a narrow wilderness footpath where users can experience
    natural Florida and solitude.

    3. Keeping the FNST a hiking footpath in a wilderness setting means NOT putting
    the FNST on multi-use trails unless it is absolutely unavoidable (example, providing
    trail connectivity through urban areas). Multi-use trails do not provide the user
    experience desired by either the hiker, the equestrian or the bicycle rider. And, I
    believe, the hiker has the most to lose.

    More importantly – tell your story about the FNST you have learned to love and
    what your vision is for the future of the FNST and the experience you want on the
    FNST. Where you can, tailor it to your experiences on the FNST.
    ....
    The USFS has posted their vision map on the official Florida National Scenic Trail
    website, the official route proposal of the FNST: http://www.fs.usda.gov/fnst.
    To comment, the email address is fnst@fs.fed.us and the mailing address is
    Florida National Scenic Trail
    National Forests in Florida
    325 John Knox Rd., Suite F-100
    Tallahassee, FL 32303

    You should also 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
    Their Priority Maps only show the USFS single route of the FNST. However, OGT
    has included some of the missing FNST segments as Florida Trail. Their email address
    for comments is Samantha.Browne@dep.state.fl.us, the fax number is 850-245-2083,
    and the mailing address is
    Florida Department of Environmental Protection
    Division of Recreation and Parks, Office of Greenways and Trails
    3900 Commonwealth Boulevard, MS 795
    Tallahassee, FL 32399-3000

    Last and most importantly, the above is provided because many members have
    wanted to support the FTA vision for the FNST. However, if you comment please
    express your opinion. We do not care if you are for or against the proposals, but
    please let your voice be heard."

    Howard Pardue
    Chair, Apalachee Chapter
    http://apalachee.floridatrail.org

  17. #17
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    The Florida Greenways and Trails public meeting from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Boca Raton Community Center will be the only South Florida meeting.

    You do not have to be a member of the Florida Trail Association to attend the meeting to give your voice a chance to be heard.

    While the meetings being held cover the very broad future plans of all Greenways in Florida, it is the future of the FNST (Florida National Scenic Trail) corridor that most concerns long distance hikers.

    The position of the local Loxahatchee Chapter is simple:

    Trying our best to preserve a single use, single track, wilderness experience hiking trail wherever possible.
    http://www.meetup.com/Florida-Trail-...ents/77761272/
    The trouble I have with campfires are the folks that carry a bottle in one hand and a Bible in the other.
    You never know which one is talking.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by WingedMonkey View Post
    The Florida Greenways and Trails public meeting from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Boca Raton Community Center will be the only South Florida meeting.

    You do not have to be a member of the Florida Trail Association to attend the meeting to give your voice a chance to be heard.

    While the meetings being held cover the very broad future plans of all Greenways in Florida, it is the future of the FNST (Florida National Scenic Trail) corridor that most concerns long distance hikers.

    The position of the local Loxahatchee Chapter is simple:



    http://www.meetup.com/Florida-Trail-...ents/77761272/
    I guess I lost the part that read:
    Thursday, October 4, 2012
    The trouble I have with campfires are the folks that carry a bottle in one hand and a Bible in the other.
    You never know which one is talking.

  19. #19

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    I believe this is the link to the "open houses", where we can attend and hopefully present our case. Please correct me if this is the wrong link:
    http://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/FGTS_...OpenHouses.pdf

    If there is anything else I can do as a long-distance hiker who loves the FT, please let me know.
    Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. -Kahlil Gibran

  20. #20
    aka Kudzu JaxHiker's Avatar
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    Losing the section from Etoniah to Keystone will make it extremely difficult for thru-hikers. It will create a 40-mile stretch without any campsites. Even if you make it to Keystone it's such a small town there isn't even a motel. The police may give you permission to camp behind the PD but it's not assured. It's not doing away with road walks and is rather adding to it.

    If you're in the Palatka area this afternoon/evening there is an open house at Ravine Gardens State Park from 4-7.

    The current trail is orange. The proposed trail is blue.



    Last edited by JaxHiker; 09-18-2012 at 07:53.
    JaxHiker aka Kudzu - WFA
    Florida Trail Association: NE FL Trail Coordinator (Gold Head to Stephen Foster)
    Problems on the trail? Have a great experience? Please let me know. trails at northfloridatrailblazers dot org
    Blazing Trails with Kudzu @ www.idratherbehiking.com
    Follow me @idratherbhiking

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