Tallahassee, FL. The idea raised a lot of red flags with environmentalists, but keeping the trails open was more important than allowing advertising.
During the great recession, state trail enthusiasts saw double digit cuts year after year. Faced with the potential closing of some trails, environmentalists agreed to a plan to allow limited advertising to raise cash. The state office of Greenways and Trails is now negotiating with potential advertisers.
Doug Alderson is the Greenways and Trails Asst. Bureau Chief with the Florida Dept of Environmental Protection. "It's not a billboard, it's not something you'll see on a trail, that you'll be going down the tail and beautiful trees and suddenly there is this huge sign. That's not going to be the case. So it's going to be at the trail head of the parking area."
The Department is being tight lipped over the negotiations, refusing to say who, or how much the signs would bring. There are actually five comfort stations along this 16 mile trail and the hope is to offset some of the maintenance cost. "Obviously, it won't cover the entire cost of maintaining these trails. The St. Mark's trail for example, requires more than 100 thousand dollars a year to maintain that trail."
Advertising will soon be seen on seven of the ten trails in the state. Most users initial reaction is "No, absolutely not." until they learn the signs will be tasteful.
"Well, I can understand tasteful, I would certainly hate to see neon signs or anything of that nature."
"I run on this trail so that I don't have to be on the road and see big billboards, it kind of gets me on the path, connected with nature."
Bids were opened August 7th. The state has until September 7th to cut a deal with potential advertisers. The state expected the signs to start going up between the middle of September and the middle of October.
Here is a list of the trails that will soon see corporate sponsorships.
The Seven Trails
Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail
Blackwater Heritage Trail,
St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail
Nature Coast State Trail
Withlacoochee State Trail
General James A. Van Fleet State Trail
Palatka-Lake Butler State Trail