Imagine barreling down an Interstate on your way up north and coming to huge signs that say “I-95 ends in one mile” and then getting shunted off to a two-lane county road.
I was talking with Ryan Smart, President of 1000 Friends of Florida, the other day, and he told me a painful story. This avid hiker has seen over 80 miles of the Florida Trail, but on this particular weekend, he was out for an over-night with his daughter. They had parked their car in Suwanee River State Park and were about three miles down the trail when they came to a big sign: “NEW OWNERS. NO TRESPASSING.” The owner had suddenly closed about a quarter-mile of trail which required Ryan and his daughter to walk over six miles down dirt roads in order to pick up the Florida Trail again. What a way to spoil a hike!
We have just been notified that Foley Timber Company wants to sell their vast holdings in the Panhandle. As a result, and in contemplation of a sale, they have asked us to abandon over 50 miles of the Florida Trail.
Last year Plum Creek Timber Company entered negotiations with the U.S. Forest Service to trade properties in the vicinity of Olustee Battlefield on U.S. 90. As a result of the trade, the Florida Trail was forced off a trail already built and was re-routed onto an extremely inferior tract with many water problems that added a six-mile road-walk as well.
These kinds of devastating actions will go on ad infinitem until a treadway is secure for hikers.