This award recognizes a State which is facilitating an outstanding statewide system of trails.
Under the leadership of the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT), Florida is facilitating the establishment of an outstanding statewide system of trails through a multi-faceted approach reaching throughout the Sunshine State.
In 1999 the Florida Legislature officially adopted the Statewide Plan for Greenways and Trails, laying the groundwork for the statewide system of greenways and trails.
OGT manages more than 80,000 acres as part of Florida's greenways and trails system, including the 110-mile Carr Cross Florida Greenway, and eight state trails. These lands encompass over 400 miles of trails and attract more than three million visitors annually.
The office also purchases land for trails and greenways to be developed and managed by local communities. Florida Forever program provides $4.5 million per year of funding for trail acquisition. One recent example is the longest rail trail corridor to be acquired by the state, the 51-mile East Central Regional Rail Trail project, purchased in 2007.
OGT has worked closely with the Florida Department of Transportation and metropolitan planning organizations to ensure that trails are an integral part of the state's bicycle and pedestrian planning. One result of these efforts is that the statewide multi-use trails vision was integrated into Florida's Statewide Bicycle Facilities Study. These corridors represent bikeways that can serve as components of Florida's alternative transportation system. OGT also works with FDOT to encourage acquisition of land for trails along roadways during acquisition of road rights of way.
Recognizing the importance of trails in maintaining the health and quality of life of citizens, OGT partners with the Florida Department of Health to encourage the integration of trails into statewide health planning. OGT serves on the Leadership Council of the Florida Physical Activity and Healthy Nutrition Network and has successfully pursued the inclusion of trails-related action steps within multiple strategies of the 2006-2010 Florida Obesity Prevention Plan. In 2007 OGT also presented to the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness regarding trails and their health benefits. Trails were incorporated into the Council's Recommendations for a State Plan of Action.
Stemming from the critical importance of tourism to florida's economy, OGT has partnered with Visit Florida, the state's official tourism marketing entity to promote trails. OGT serves on Visit Florida's nature Based Tourism Committee working to ensure that trails are an important component of the state's tourism marketing. OGT has also helped develop Florida's Bicycle,Hiking, and Paddling Trails Guides.
OGT is actively pursuing motorized trails in Florida. Through the Recreational Trails Program, OGT has previously offered a motorized-only funding cycle to stimulate the development and establishment of new OHV trails and recreation areas.
OGT also officially serves on the Big Cypress National Preserve OHV Advisory Committee which was established by the Department of Interior to examine issues and make recommendations on the management of OHVs in Big Cypress National Preserve.