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Press Office
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 8, 2011
CONTACT: DEP: Press Office, (850) 245-2112

DEP Announces National Recreation Trail Designation for Withlacoochee State Trail

~Florida’s longest, state-managed rail-trail recognized for local and regional significance~

TALLAHASSEE - In conjunction with National Trails Day and the National Recreation Trail Program, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Office of Greenways & Trails (OGT) is proud to announce that the Withlacoochee State Trail has been designated as a National Recreation Trail. According to the National Recreation Trails Program criteria, this popular state-managed rail-trail joins an elite list of more than 1,100 trails across the United States that are deemed exemplary for their local and regional significance.

“From coast to coast, National Recreation Trails help connect Americans with the wonders of America’s Great Outdoors," said Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior David Hayes. "Today’s new National Recreation Trails, built through partnerships with local communities and stakeholders, provide great opportunities for people to get outside, get active and have fun. The trails establish a strong link in our urban and rural communities alike to a conservation legacy for future generations to build upon."

The National Recreation Trail designation recognizes existing trails and trail systems that connect communities to resources and improve their quality of life. Each of the new National Recreation Trails will receive a certificate of designation, a letter of congratulations from Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and a set of trail markers. These trails join a network of more than 1,100 previously designated trails that total more than 13,000 miles.

“We welcome this national recognition for an outstanding trail that connects the state’s residents and visitors with Florida’s rich history and natural resources,” said Bob Ballard, DEP Deputy Secretary of Land and Recreation. “The Withlacoochee State Trail’s long, scenic corridor adds to the quality of life for this region and helps support the economy of a number of small towns and communities across a three-county area.”

The Withlacoochee State Trail is a paved, multi-use trail with an unpaved equestrian trail that runs alongside portions of the corridor. Traversing small towns, ranches and six distinct natural communities, the trail offers a wealth of opportunities for viewing wildlife. In 2010, nearly 300,000 trail users enjoyed the great recreational opportunities offered by this 46-mile rail-trail which runs through Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties, along the path of a former CSX railroad corridor from Citrus Springs to six miles north of Dade City.

The Withlacoochee State Trail is highly valued by the trail’s neighboring communities. The counties and towns have developed trail-related features, businesses and side trails that access the Withlacoochee State Trail. Rails to Trails of the Withlacoochee, a local, 400–member citizen support organization, has worked on behalf of the trail for more than 16 years. In addition to providing many amenities for the Trail, the group has restored a 1925 “landmark” caboose for the Inverness Trailhead, purchased a maintenance building, installed interpretive signage and, in cooperation with the Citrus County Health Department, built a health and fitness circuit beside the Trail. The Rails to Trails of the Withlacoochee hosts a fundraiser that is believed to be the largest one-day bike ride in the Southeast, attracting nearly 1,500 participants annually.

Florida has been named by American Trails as “Best Trails State in America,” recognizing the efforts of 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.

The National Recreation Trail program is jointly administered by the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service in conjunction with a number of other federal and nonprofit partners, notably American Trails, which hosts the national recreation trails website at http://www.americantrails.org/nationalrecreationtrails.

To view Rails to Trails of the Withlacoochee’s website, which received national recognition from American Trails as the 2010 Best Website by a Trail Organization or Club, visit railstotrailsonline.com.

To learn more about the Withlacoochee State Trail and other Florida trails, visit FloridaGreenwaysandTrails.com.  

trail

"From coast to coast, National Recreation Trails help connect Americans with the wonders of America’s Great Outdoors"

David Hayes
Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior

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Last updated: June 08, 2011

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