Trouble on the Kissimmee River

I want to share disconcerting news received this week from Sandra Friend about Florida government agencies that have signed on to support the Florida Trail, backing out of commitments to the trail by claiming other priorities. What follows are two examples of these agencies:

1) South Florida Water Management District just closed a mile stretch of the FNST just north of Okee-tantie at the southern end of the Kissimmee section by putting a fence across the dike and “No trespassing” signs on it. They did not inform the local FTA section leader, and I’m betting they didn’t talk to the USFS either. The closure is posted as going on for two years. This creates a terrible situation for thru-hikers as it blocks access to a day’s worth of hiking along the Kissimmee and forces them to roadwalk through Okeechobee and along busy SR 70, doubling the distance. I would think some accommodation could be made for a pedestrian pass-through during that period unless they plan to tear the dike out.

2) Seminole County closed the bridge over Interstate 4 this morning for a three month period. It’s less of a hassle since you can get around it on city sidewalks, crossing the I-4 vehicle bridge for SR 46A, but again, I don’t believe FTA or USFS was informed of the closure plans since there is no Notice to Hikers on the FTA website.