Trail for Sale, Again

By: Whitney Ray Email
By: Whitney Ray Email

Trail for Sale, Again

Tallahassee, FL -- September 27, 2011 --

Underground at this Florida state park is a time capsule not to be unearthed until 2035. But what state parks look like by then or if they’ll even exist may depend on how the legislature decides to fund them. A bill to sell advertising on trail signs to help the underfunded parks has been filed for next year’s legislative session.

Frank and Susan Lowe don’t like the plan. They traveled 4-thousand miles from England to visit the state’s parks.

“It’s like the wilderness isn’t it? The wilderness part of it, that’s what we’ve come for,” said Susan.

The Lowes say more Brits would visit Florida parks if they were advertised better. But If there were enough money to promote Florida parks our lawmakers might not be looking at selling ad space on trails.

Legislation to allow advertising in parks failed last year because it was tied to plans to sell ads on interstate road signs. By the time road ads were removed from the bill it was too late. But for these tourists from across the pond ads are a better fit for roads not trails.

“When you come up the interstate it’s all advertising and you just want to get away from that,” said Susan.

The trails for sale bill is just one of several ideas to save the parks. A plan to open RV lots and golf courses on the state lands failed earlier this year after public outcry. There are no official studies on the amount of money selling ad space on trails would generate, but supporters say it’s 10s of millions of dollars.

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Trail for Sale

Tallahassee, FL - Todd Bertolaet enjoys the sights and sounds of natural Florida. He took a brisk walk on a hiking trail Friday to relax.

“I’d love to see a diamondback on this particular trail,” said Todd Bertolaet.

But he may soon be seeing something not so natural: advertisements. State lawmakers are considering selling ad space on walking trails to help fill the 3.8 billion dollar budget gap.

So that means you soon could be walking on your favorite hiking trail and find a Coke can, and you may also find the trail is sponsored by Coke.

Governor Rick Scott is encouraging lawmakers to leave no stone unturned in their search for cash.

“Everybody in our states had to tighten their belts; we have to look at every opportunity we can, so I think it’s something we ought to look at,” said Scott.

But for Todd, nature is sacrosanct and seeing ads at his favorite parks would ruin the experience.

“We have to have some sanctuaries, and ya know this is one sanctuary for all of the public,” said Todd.

The trails for sale bill is tied to legislation allowing advertising on state roads, which may in the end kill the idea because Federal law prohibits advertisements on many interstate systems. There hasn’t been an economic study on how much money the legislation would generate, but supporters of the bill estimate it could raise 10s of millions of dollars.


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