DEP Press Release:
Governor Charlie Crist and the Florida Cabinet today approved the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) proposal to purchase a 9.33-mile corridor, known as the Trenton-Newberry Rail Trail project. This corridor will ultimately serve as an extension of the 31.7-mile Nature Coast State Trail (NCST) that is managed by the DEP Office of Greenways & Trails (OGT). Utilizing OGT’s Florida Forever acquisition funding, DEP’s Division of State Lands (DSL) negotiated this purchase with The Trust for Public Land, which had entered into a purchase option agreement with CSX Transportation. The NCST is a component of Florida’s Statewide Greenways and Trails System and was recently designated as a National Recreation Trail by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
“Increasing the connectivity of this popular, multi-use state trail, which already attracts more than 140,000 annual visitors, will benefit the economy of this rural area,” said Jena Brooks, Director of the DEP Office of Greenways & Trails. “This peaceful, scenic route through the countryside is just the kind of nature-based, ‘off the beaten path’ experience that increasingly appeals to Sunshine State tourists.”
The extension will traverse a relatively undeveloped portion of Gilchrist County, known as the Wacasassa Flats, to connect with existing sections of the NCST in Dixie and Levy Counties. The rail-trail project will begin in Trenton at the Trenton Depot trailhead and terminate approximately three miles from the town of Newberry. Thanks to the support of The Trust for Public Land, in cooperation with other state and local agencies, this rail-trail corridor has extended the reach of the NCST as a valuable recreational resource for this rural area. "The Trust for Public Land helps create healthy and vibrant communities by working with the DEP Office of Greenways & Trails to turn former rail corridors into linear parks and trails," said Greg Chelius, Florida State Director for The Trust for Public Land. "This Trenton-Newberry Rail Trail acquisition is a prime example of what can be accomplished through a significant partnership with CSX Railroad and a major step toward building healthy and sustainable communities throughout Florida."
Florida has been named by American Trails as “Best Trails State in America,” recognizing the efforts of DEP’s Office of Greenways & Trails (OGT) and its many partners for their coordinated efforts to establish Florida’s statewide system of trails. OGT provides community assistance, trail acquisition and development funding, and public outreach to expand the statewide system of greenways and trails. OGT also manages eight state trails and the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway. The Greenway is Florida’s longest green corridor stretching 110 miles from the St. Johns River near Palatka to the Gulf of Mexico near Inglis. Of the eight state trails, six are rail-trails, which are railroad corridors converted to recreational trails for hiking, biking, skating, equestrian activities and alternative transportation.
For more information about Florida’s trails, visit www.FloridaGreenwaysAndTrails.com.