MINUTES OF THE SUWANNEE CHAPTER

of the

FLORIDA TRAIL ASSOCIATION

MARCH 12. 2018

Members present:  Joe & Sandra Aycock, Sam Bigbie, Bill Bunting, Ali & John Deagan, Sylvia & Carl Dunnam, Andre Marcil, Edwin McCook, Maggie & Norm McDonald, Homer Melgaard, Mike Larney, Gloria & Don Neale, Fred Schiller,   Stephanie and RJ Sikora, Judy & Greg Townsend.  Guest: Neil Bailey.  Speakers:  Adam Fryska (Panhandle Regional Representative), Van Tran (Community Outreach), Leslie Wheeler (FTA President), and David Waldrop (VP for Trails).

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Norm McDonald at 7:00 PM.  Norm asked how many years members had been with the FTA.  Starting with 40 years, 30 years, 25, 10, 5 or less demonstrating depth of experience and commitment to the FTA.  The meeting was turned over to Program coordinator, Edwin McCook, who introduced our speakers.  Adam Fryska presented a power point program concerning job descriptions, present and future projects of the Florida Trail. Van Tran spoke of recruiting people to get involved with trail work and participating in the FTA through groups (especially students).  She is doing this through social media. She and the regional representative will be meeting with all 18 chapters.

Adam as a trail representative for the panhandle area emphasized his responsibility for work parties, training, advocating and coordinating between the forest service, land managers or volunteer chapters for the Trail.  This entails working on reroutes, FTA budget and communication.   Trail training includes chainsaw, first aid, and trail skills training.  The FTA wants to standardize infrastructure design to promote safety, accessibility, and consistency. Pictures were shown of new kiosks which are being installed along the trail with maps and information on each trail section.  Also, pictured were road signs which will designate the trail. Adam talked about Alaqua River where a 70 foot suspension bridge is being built and the proposed reroute of the trail along the Gulf Coast of the Big Bend area to St. Marks. 

Adam is negotiating with owners for easement to reopen the Big Oak trail which has been closed for some time. 

Fred Schiller asked about road signs and the DOT.  Adam asked folks to contact him if we see a need for a road sign and he will obtain the appropriate permits.  David Waldrop talked about standardizing road signs to help with accessibility and consistency.

Leslie Wheeler (FTA President) talked about the reroute to the Big Bend.  A sub chapter would be formed to maintain this trail, it would not be responsibility of the Suwannee Chapter. Leslie talked about lime bedrock roads in place and this very scenic area.  She felt maintenance would not be difficult. 

Leslie gave figure of 365,000 people walk some piece of the trail annually.  This number was ascertained by UF statistician professor, Dr. Taylor Stein.  Leslie also talked about getting young people involved in the trail and Van Tran is working hard to make this happen.

I Did A Hike will be held in this area next February. Our chapter is encouraged to be involved with the planning and implementing.

Leslie gave an update on the status of the FTA building in Gainesville.  This building needs to be leveled because of a serious black mold problem.  FTA is presently occupying rented offices in Gainesville.  Jeff Glenn is storing all equipment in an adjoining garage.  FTA options to sell owned property or rebuild on the site are being explored.  The annual meeting, chapter conference meeting, and open house will be the weekend of April 7.  Edwin proposed eventually moving the office to White Springs.

Sam sees our chapter as old and worn down and less able to maintain the trail.  He sees a need to bring in some millennials.  Adam said he is working on this and will have work parties to help with this area.  John acknowledged RJ and Stephanie are our millennials, they keep our trail in good shape.  A rousing round of applause for RJ and Stephanie ensued.

Andre asked about rules for Florida Trail and Florida National Scenic Trail being different.  Leslie and David said they are the same.  Although, there is more paperwork with the Florida National Scenic Trail because of coverage by the federal government rules.  David gave an example of a trail work accident. This was covered by government insurance because all the correct paperwork had been filled out.

Multi use has raised concerns on the trail.  John brought up those trail concerns from horse riding damage.  Edwin expressed recreation money can be the first to go during budget constrictions.  So, we may have to put up with some inconvenience.  Leslie reiterated about contacting Adam if there are any problems with trail users or land managers.  Van is working with bike users to help maintain the trail.

Sam brought up chainsaw training being inconvenient and unnecessary.  Adam is working on streamlining this process so knowledgeable sawyers will not have to take frequent or lengthy training.  The FTA is working on having its own trainers instead of forestry service.

CPR training can be taken in a one hour class on line.  Need codes for course access which Adam can supply.

RJ brought up work hikes and asked what Adam would supply for groups coming in to work on the trail.  Adam said he could supply everything including mowers.

Bill thanked everyone for the card and prayers during his recent operation.  He also has been checking and presented the notebook on the Black Tract Trail.  Those comments have all said what a beautiful trail it is to hike.

MINUTES:  Accepted as appeared on the website.

Treasurer’s Report:  Ali reported a balance of $3216.97 as of February 28, 2018.We had deposits totaling $554.92 and expenditures of $165.34.

Membership Report:  Sylvia reports 1 new member and 2 drops,  119 memberships.

Webmaster:  Joe reports putting a lot more information on face book.  John and Ali Deagan are featured this month.

Announcements:  Norm announced that Florida Department of Health in Suwannee and Lafayette County (Healthy Hikes) would like to conduct quarterly hikes with the help of Suwannee Chapter of the Florida Trail.  Preferably on the weekend and lasting about 2 hours. Families will be encouraged to participate.  The Health Department will do the advertising. Edwin volunteered to lead a hike.

Sunshine:  Please make sure to contact Ali Deagan if you are aware of someone with a health issue.

The Raffel:  Total of $29.00 was won by Sandra Aycock and she donated all $29.00 back to the club.

Motion to adjourn meeting by John, second Fred.  Meeting adjourned at 9:04 PM.

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