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Monday, May 21, 2018
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No takers yet on state trail billboards

In 2012, legislators looking to raise money for trail upkeep allowed companies and nonprofit groups to sponsor seven trails and place signs to announce their support.

The trails include the Withlacoochee State Trail that passes through Hernando and Pasco counties.

In April, Florida Department of Environmental Protection officials finally inked a deal with New York-based Bike Path Country to act as a middleman to get sponsors.

The organization did not respond to a request for comment, but Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Mara Burger said in an email that “there are no sponsors yet.”

Burger added that the agreement with the organization “ends one year from the date of execution and may be renewed for up to two additional two-year renewal periods.”

“A deadline was not included in the agreement,” she said.

The agreement took effect April 1, 2014.

The sponsorship bill had drawn opposition from environmentalists, who worried about the visual effect of signs on trails.

The measure, however, ensured that signs cannot “intrude on natural and historic settings” and can contain only a logo and sparse, boilerplate sponsorship language.

Moreover, signs can be placed only at trailheads or access points and can be no larger than 16 square feet at trailheads and 4 square feet at access points.

“There may be more than one sponsorship on each state trail but no more than one sponsor for each trailhead and access point,” according to a state guidance statement.

In addition to the Withlacoochee trail, billed as the longest paved trail in Florida, the other trails are:

♦ Blackwater Heritage Trail, near Pensacola.

♦ Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail, south of the state capital.

♦ Nature Coast State Trail in north Florida.

♦ Palatka-Lake Butler State Trail, also in north Florida.

♦ General James A. Van Fleet State Trail in central Florida.

♦ Overseas Heritage Trail in the Florida Keys.

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