Florida Drivers--new state land opening up near Ocala. Help needed!
There is a very large tract of land (we are talking thousands of acres here) that the state managed to get a hold before the funding for the Conserve Florida dollars were cut.
It is out on the north east and east side of Ocala/Silver Springs on both sides of CR 326. It starts near SR 40 and continues all the way to RR tracks on 326.
The state will be having a guided trail ride in late September in conjunction with some sort of Marion County Festival. The gal who is in charge works at Silver Springs State Park. I was sent the information through another web site. When I contact her about bringing a driving horse, she was not open to the idea. Her reply was that the trails would be too rough for carriages and that later on they had plans for carriage trails. To this I replied that I dry a very rugged little cart and that given 4 feet width I can pretty much go anywhere a riding horse can go. She said she would get back to me and has not.
Here is where help is needed. Drivers in Florida need to contact this lady and ask to come with their carts. The more drivers who contact her she can;t ignore. Whether or not, you plan on going, the idea is that our driving voice be heard. We need to be included in the development of said park.
The property was refered to as the Avatar property and will be called Indian Springs. Here is the information as I received it.
The new State Forest is not yet open. It is in the Waccasassa Forestry District as is Goethe, Welaka and Ross Prairie. Terry Sheehan is the Rec Planner for the District....call him at 352/955-6265.
Budget cuts are playing havoc with all agencies; we need to tell our legislators how important trails are for health...both mental and physical (and our local economy)!
Indian Lake State Forest and
Ross Prairie State Forest
2735 NE Silver Springs Blvd.
Ocala, Florida 34470
Telephone: 352/ 732-1201, Fax: 352/ 620-7293
If people have very safe turnouts, you might also offer to bring along some of the officials you want to win over for a ride - Parks people, state officials, etc. Show them how carriages can open the trails to a whole new group of users. Make sure the drivers give a good safe drive - no thrills, no scaring others. You just might win over some carriage advocates.
And remember that carriages can carry drinks and goodies We're done with horse traveling until fall but sure hope the FL whips all respond. Fortunately we have lots of areas here in the Southern Pines area but I know others are not so lucky.
Sue, I forwarded your posting to Helen Koehler who lives here in Steeplechase and is our local guru and supporter of riding and driving in Florida forests. This is her reply.
this is not a park...the park lady was coordinating their special springs awareness event...this is the new Indian Lake State Forest.....our very own trails specialist TERRY SHEEHAN will be developing the trails plan. The lady works for DEP...Terry works for DOF..and DOF manages the new Forest. Please convey with Terry the desire for carriage accessible trails....his hands are tied until Tallahassee has reviewed the preliminary plans for new properties.
The park lady is only planning a one day open house for a Marion County event....it's DOF that will develop the new Forest.
I will, of course, contact the listed folks to encourage driving trails in Marion County. The Ocklawaha River, of which Silver Springs is a tributary, was not accepted for the endangered rivers list, although the St. John's is listed already. Having canoed much of the Ocklawaha, it is a wonderous beauty much threatened by those who would take-the-money-and-run via development. It is possible that the acquisition of some land for the park was a brokered deal to offset development nearby.
Nonetheless, we have no--that I know of--carriage driving trails in Marion county, and two equestrian clubs with driving members locally--Florida Whips and STRIDE. In some cases, it is difficult for the two clubs to communicate--for some reason, since many folks have memberships in both. In this case, it would be vitally important to communicate with all drivers within a hundred miles of Silver River, because it is only at the edge of that hundred miles that we can drive in the woods out in Goethe.
It is important to realize that a goodly part of the intitial work on trails is done by local folks who want the trail. In the case of the Greenway down by Santos, I know of someone who lost an eye trying to cut a mountain bike trail, because he wanted a mountain bike trail and was working with his bicyclist crew to make it happen. If drivers want a carriage trail, we have to want it bad enough to come out and make it happen.
I am not saying we ought to get hurt, i am saying we have to want it badly enough.
Right now, me with my broken foot, I am not swinging an axe anywhere--I can't even get to the phone when it rings.I can write letters and make phone calls, and I shall. Those of us with tools might offer a day of work. I hope Whips and STRIDE takes this up as a joint effort. My recommendation would be to pick a weekend in December and have all who we can get to come out with whatever tools we have.