OGT Connections Newsletter - Summer 2013

Florida Greenways and Trails Connections

Trail Grand Opening Draws Hundreds

Archer Braid Trail Grand Opening

On June 15, more than 400 trail users joined with the City of Archer for a ribbon cutting ceremony that celebrated the grand opening of Phase I of the six-mile Archer Braid Trail (ABT).

The event, which had an unprecedented turn out, featured a variety of vendors, booths, informative presentations and interactive activities throughout the day for attendees. There was a bike parade for children, while an instructive bike rodeo production taught valuable skills and techniques to interested adults.

The ABT currently stretches from the Trailhead at the Water Tower on State Road 45 in Archer to Southwest 91st Street in the City of Gainesville and furthers the implementation of the Florida Greenways and Trails System Plan’s Priority Trail Network.

Expected to begin this fall, Phase II will extend the trail north and east, pass Haile Plantation toward the University of Florida. Gainesville’s extensive trail system is one of the reasons the League of American Bicyclists rates Gainesville a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community.

A Bicycle Friendly Community welcomes cyclists by providing safe accommodations for cycling and encouraging people to bike for transportation and recreation. The City of Archer is confident that the trail will spur economic and cultural activity in the area, and given the grand opening celebration, its well on its way!


Loop Summit Focuses on Accomplishments and Sets Direction

St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop

 Participants from federal, state and regional agencies, city and county representatives, as well as non-profit organizations and citizens of Florida convened at Whitney Laboratory in Marineland for the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop (Loop) Summit this past May.

Summit leaders focused on accomplishments and discussed strategic direction by which partners will be able to focus their collaborative efforts to close gaps within the Loop’s system.

Conceived in 2008 through a Memorandum of Understanding, the 260-mile developing multi-use trail system, aims to connect Brevard, Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia counties. Recognized as a component of the East Coast Greenway, the Loop traverses two Department of Transportation districts, three Metropolitan Planning Organizations and is becoming a resource for six of Florida’s Scenic Byways.

By closing the gaps the Loop will connect existing trails and numerous national, state and locally managed lands. Flagler County’s A1A Bike Path is currently the networks longest continuous segment. The Loop includes the East Central Regional Rail-Trail, the Palatka-to-St. Augustine State Trail and the Spring-to-Spring Trail.

To experience the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop, plan a  fall excursion with Bike Florida during their week long Loop Tour, Nov. 10 to 16.


Meet the Office of Greenways and Trails Staff

The Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT) has had some staff changes in the past few months. Here is a listing of our current staff:

• Samantha Browne, Bureau Chief, has been with OGT for 19 years, most recently as the Assistant Bureau Chief.

• Doug Alderson, Assistant Bureau Chief, has worked with OGT for eight years, most recently as the Paddling Trails Coordinator.

• Shannon Franklin, Office Manager,  has been part of the OGT family for 13 years.

• Marsha Rickman, Regional Coordinator (South), has been with OGT for 13 years.

• Robin Birdsong, Regional Coordinator (North), has been with OGT for 10 years.

• Liz Sparks, Paddling Trails Coordinator, recently joined OGT. Previously, she was with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission where she worked as a Recreation Planner for 12 years.

• Eric Hand, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), brings his knowledge and expertise from the Florida Park Service’s Office of Park Planning where he worked for 10 years.

• Angie Bright, Communication and Website, has worked with OGT for two years and has been with the department for 11 years.

• Kae Craig, Public Information Specialist, has been with OGT for six years.


Capital City to the Sea Master Plan Underway

Capital City to the Sea Trail (CC2ST) Map

Long distance and regional loop trail systems are becoming increasingly popular as a form of nature-based tourism. As an added benefit, they support healthy lifestyles and economic development.

In 2009, the Wakulla County Commission unanimously approved Resolution 09-46 establishing the Capital City to the Sea Trail (CC2ST) concept to connect existing and planned trails. Trails encompassed in the Commission’s conceptual plan include the Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail, the GF&A corridor, the Ochlockonee Bay Trail and the Capital Cascades Trail. Subsequently, the Apalachee Regional Planning Council and the City of Carrabelle followed the Wakulla County Commission’s lead and have now become allies in the initiative.

Within the Florida Greenways and Trails System Plan Priority Network, the CC2ST begins in Leon County near Florida’s Capitol, extends through Wakulla County and on to the Carrabelle River in Franklin County. A Master Plan, funded by the Capital Regional Planning Agency, is being developed and a series of Public Workshops occurring in Leon and Wakulla Counties are scheduled through December. The Master Plan will provide guidance for funding and programming, and set the stage for government and private sector partnerships.


Palatka’s New Trail History

Memorial Bridge - Palatka

What does Henry Flagler’s East Coast Railway and the Georgia Southern and Florida Railroad have in common? A regional section of rail-trail, which links two rail histories spanning the St. Johns River in Palatka.

The East Coast Railway passage from St. Augustine to East Palatka to Espanola (near Bunnell) and the Georgia Southern and Florida Railroad segment from Lake City to Palatka were abandoned decades ago and in recent years the majority of the corridor was acquired for inclusion in the state’s trail network.

The City of Palatka and Putnam County are embracing the Urban Palatka Trail and its future, as it is a significant part of their trail vision and master plan to create a trail hub that links many pathways and blueways in Palatka. Some of these include the St. Johns River, Cross Florida Greenway, Florida National Scenic Trail, St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop, East Coast Greenway and several multipurpose connectors to Gainesville, Green Cove Springs and Crescent City.

The merger of these two rail-trail entities will be historical in its own right by creating a corridor that extends more than 100 miles in length. Communities that are a part of this project are numerous and very excited.

To celebrate this major accomplishment, a trail festival is planned for Sat., Aug. 17 in conjunction with the trail segment opening. For details, visit Putnam Blueways & Trails CSO on Facebook.

Article Contribution by: Kraig McLane, Vice-chair Putnam County Trail Council


Groundbreaking on Historic Bagdad Mills Site

Bagdad Mills Groundbreaking

Santa Rosa County in partnership with Bagdad Waterfronts Florida Partnership, Inc. hosted a groundbreaking event on June 5 to celebrate the start of construction activities for Bagdad Mill Site Park which will feature a multi-purpose trail loop when complete.

The 21-acre Bagdad Mill Site, located at the confluence of Pond Creek and Blackwater River in the historic community of Bagdad, was previously the setting for the Bagdad Land and Lumber Company sawmill which operated from 1835 to 1939. The site was acquired by the State of Florida Board of Trustees in 2000 and was leased to the county for development as a passive recreation area in 2004.

Bagdad Mills Park Map

With Phase I of construction improvements officially beginning, several amenities, in addition to the trail, are planned for users. A handicap accessible fishing pier, picnic areas, a water fountain, benches, educational exhibits, bike racks and parking are just some of the facilities that will be available to the public.

Development is expected to wrap up summer 2014. Phase I improvements are partially funded with a grant from the Department of Environmental Protection’s, Office of Intergovernmental Programs,Coastal Partnership Initiative grant.


Connections Follow-up...

Apalachee Bay Maritime Heritage Paddling Trail System Ribbon Cutting

OGT’s Doug Alderson cuts the ribbon to mark completion of the Apalachee Bay Maritime Heritage Paddling Trail System in Wakulla County, as reported in the Spring 2013 - Issue of Connections. For more information, maps and guides click here.


Office of Greenways and Trails Connections Newsletter. For information, please contact Angie Bright at Angie.Bright@dep.state.fl.us.

FDEP Office of Greenways & Trails | 3900 Commonwealth Blvd. MS 795 | Tallahassee | FL | 32399