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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

GOVERNOR, CABINET RECOGNIZE FLORIDA AS BEST TRAILS STATE IN THE NATION

TALLAHASSEE – Governor Charlie Crist and the Florida Cabinet today signed a resolution recognizing the achievements of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Office of Greenways & Trails (OGT) that have led to Florida’s newly acclaimed status as America’s “Best Trails State.” The award, the first “Best Trails State” ever awarded by American Trails, was presented to the OGT on November 17th, 2008 at the National Trails Symposium in Little Rock, Arkansas, recognizing Florida’s success in facilitating an outstanding statewide system of trails. “Florida is honored to be recognized for its vision and commitment to the creation of a successful statewide trail system,” said DEP Deputy Secretary for Land and Recreation Bob Ballard. “Connecting Floridians to the places where they live, work and play helps support eco-tourism as well as develop routes for alternative, energy-saving forms of transportation.” American Trails is the only national, nonprofit organization working on behalf of all trail interests. Since 1988, American Trails has made it a part of its mission to promote cooperation among user groups and pursue a national infrastructure of trails and greenways that serves a full range of activities. American Trails presents the National Trails Awards every two years to recognize the contributions of volunteers, professionals, agencies and other leaders who are working to create a national system of trails for all Americans. "I applaud DEP's Office of Greenways and Trails for its commitment to developing the Nation's best trail network," said Attorney General Bill McCollum. "Florida's trails immerse residents and visitors in the state's natural beauty and encourage the protection of Florida's natural resources for future generations." DEP’s Office of Greenways & Trails manages eight state trails, in addition to 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 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. For more information on the Florida Forever program, visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/lands/acquisition/FloridaForever/. To learn more about American trails visit www.americantrails.org.

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