Update - October 14, 2010 9:15am by Jerry Askin
The new and improved St. Marks Trail is now open to the public.
The southern three miles of the trail in St. Marks re-opened on Wednesday October 13, 2010 as part of Florida's celebration of Greenways and Trails Month. About 8 miles of the 16 miles have now been re-paved. The project's goal is to improve safety and durability along the trail.
It is funded through the Department of Environmental Protection.
They hope to have the entire trail paved within the next few months. Their hope is that the trail will attract more tourism to St. Marks.
DEP Secretary for Land and Recreation Bob Ballard says, "It needed to be updated and revamped, so we have a brand new trail here today and we're really excited about it."
St. Mark's resident Ethel Jefferson says, ""We're very excited to have it opening because of what it's going to bring."
The project is funded through the Department of Environmental Protection. They hope to have the entire trail paved within the next few months. Their hope is that the trail will attract more tourism to St. Marks.
Tallahassee, Florida –
The Dept. of Environmental Protection has issued a press release.
As part of Florida’s celebration of Greenways and Trails Month, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Deputy Secretary for Land and Recreation Bob Ballard today participated in a ribbon cutting event for the reopening of the southern three miles of the Tallahassee-St. Marks State Trail. The reopened segment stretches from St. Marks north to US 98 and is the first segment of the newly paved and widened rail-trail to open for public use.
DEP Deputy Secretary Bob Ballard was joined by Mayor of the City of St. Marks Phil Cantner, representatives from VISIT FLORIDA and the Florida Greenways and Trails Council at today’s event to recognize the recent launch of a new trails-tourism website. The website, which officially launched October 4, highlights the benefits trails provide Florida’s environment and tourism industry through healthy recreational opportunities and an affordable alternative to traditional vacation activities.
“Today’s event signifies two important milestones for Florida residents, visitors and trail communities,” said DEP Deputy Secretary Bob Ballard. “The newly repaved segment of the Tallahassee-St. Marks Trail coupled with VISIT FLORIDA’s comprehensive trail website increases public awareness and accessibility to all the beautiful outdoor experiences Florida has to offer.”
Touting Florida’s award-winning trails as a major tourism attraction alongside beaches, golf courses and theme parks, the new website features more than 100 trails and serves as a one-stop-shop for residents and guests looking to plan an eco-vacation or simply take a day-trip down a paved or paddling trail. The website provides a gateway to nearby businesses, outfitters, restaurants and overnight accommodations to make any trail trip complete, and allows businesses to list their company on the website for free through June 2011.
“The launch of this new website emphasizes the extraordinary value trails add to our state and will give travelers a taste of just how much is out there waiting for them to experience,” said VISIT FLORIDA Chief Marketing Officer Will Seccombe. “Connecting Florida’s tourism industry to visitors through their passions is the cornerstone of VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing efforts and this trails website offers a content-rich resource for those who love hiking, biking, paddling, horseback riding and birdwatching.”
Nature-based tourism is a growing trend and a record-setting year of visitation shows that Florida’s trails greenways and trails are at the forefront of a movement that helps bolster the state’s economy. The 65 percent of visitors that include nature-based activities in their travel help these economic engines continue to expand.
The St. Marks Trail was the first rail-trial in the state trail system to be paved and has provided Floridians more than 20 years of service. The resurfacing project, which began in June of 2010, is being constructed in two phases and will improve public safety and usability for future generations.