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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Explore Florida during greenways and trails month

TALLAHASSEE – Highlighting more than 5,000 miles of land trails, 80,000 acres of state managed greenways and countless paddling trails, Governor Charlie Crist and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) encourage residents and visitors to explore natural Florida this October during Greenways and Trails Month. This annual event encourages Florida residents and visitors to discover the many free recreational activities, alternative transportation options and health benefits provided by both greenways and trails. “Florida Greenways and Trails Month is about celebrating our natural resources and setting aside a time for communities to come together around healthy activities,” said Jena Brooks, Director of DEP’s Office of Greenways & Trails. “In addition to the obvious recreational and fitness benefits, greenways and trails help protect Florida’s natural resources, offer routes for alternative, energy-saving forms of transportation and even boost our economy.” Florida’s greenways and trails offer countless activities that cost little or no money and can be found close to home. But beyond the health and environmental benefits, outdoor recreation at both greenways and trails also pays off in economic benefits. According to a report by the Outdoor Industry Foundation, three out of every four Americans participate in active outdoor recreation each year. The study states that outdoor recreation contributes $730 billion annually to the U.S. economy, supports nearly 6.5 million jobs across the U.S. and provides sustainable growth in communities. To view the Foundation’s report, visit www.outdoorindustryfoundation.org. Events will take place statewide throughout October to celebrate Florida Greenways and Trails Month. These events range from group bike rides and kayak trips, to community cleanups and trail tram rides for the disabled. For a complete list of events, visit www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/news/gwtmonth_oct/default.htm. DEP’s Office of Greenways & Trails manages eight state trails, in addition to the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, 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 and equestrian activities. Through Florida Forever, the state’s premier land acquisition program, $4.5 million is allocated annually to purchase and preserve land for Florida’s greenways and trails. For more information on Florida’s greenways and trails, visit www.floridagreenwaysandtrails.com.

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