Special to the Chronicle
To start this month’s article off, I have asked Dianne Drye, trail specialist for the Withlacoochee State Trail, to give us her thoughts and updates on the Trail. She is in charge of the Trail and knows everything that is going on as well as being responsible for seeing that everything gets done. She welcomes your telephone calls anytime.
TRAIL GOINGS ON
The Wednesday Crew has been busy removing the old gate posts at the road intersections. These posts are decaying and pose a serious safety threat to trail users. The old posts are being replaced with 4-inch by 6-inch posts on opposing corners with the new signs on them.
The road intersections look a lot less cluttered with the new posts and signs. This has been completed from Turner Camp Road in Inverness to State Road 48 in Floral City.
The Friday Crew has taken on the task of pressure washing, straightening and will be repainting the whistle and mile markers along the Trail. Trail staff has also been busy making changes to things to make the Trail more handicap accessible and putting in new signs. This will be an ongoing task until everything is done.
The staff has also been removing old signs, barricades, fences, posts and other things that are an eyesore as well as things that are decaying and falling apart.
Recently, we have had young men with AmeriCorps working on the Trail putting fill dirt along the edges to eliminate some of the drop-offs. Also this week, the area of asphalt on the Trail that was burned by a vehicle fire, will be replaced and Citrus County Road Department will start patching areas along the Trail.
We have a lot of things going on for sure. The ultimate goal is to make the Trail even better than it is now.”
ATV CRACKDOWN ON TRAIL
The efforts of law officers and the Florida Wildlife Commission have worked to help keep all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) off of the Trail, especially on the northerly section. So far, more than 20 people have been ticketed; each conviction carrying a fine of $318.
If you see any ATVs on Trail property or if you see rocks or stones thrown up on the Trail, call FWC at 888-404-3922. Also, the non-emergency number for the Citrus County Sheriff’s office is 352-726-1121. The Trail office number is 352-726-0315.
With everyone’s help, we can put a big dent in this practice and it will be much safer for all concerned. Thank you for your calls, they have been a big help in catching these ATVs!
WE STILL NEED HELP
We still need a secretary and newsletter editor to complete the positions in the Rails to Trails of the Withlacoochee. These are not hard jobs; we just need someone who is interested and would like to donate a few hours each months. We will train you! For more information, call Rich at 352-527- 535 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WEDNESDAY WORK CREW
In past articles, I have mentioned the large “posts” that were being removed. Let me step back and explain where these came from and what they are doing there. These posts were installed back in the early 1990s to hold gates that were opened and closed each day.
The Rangers realized this was not a viable way to enforce the Trail hours and, therefore, all the heavy gates were removed. The remaining double 10-inch by 10-inch double posts have since served as iconic gateways to the Trail at every intersection and served as a reminder to cars that this stretch of asphalt is not a road, and to Trail users that they were approaching an intersection where cars would be passing.
Over the years, though, the wood has rotted underground, causing the posts to become unstable, so they are being removed. There are 10 or more posts at each intersection and it takes a tractor to pull them up and then they have to be cut in sizes that can be handled. This all takes time and a lot of hard work.
Summer is here — take plenty of water with you on the Trail.
Your comments are always welcome. I can be reached at 352-527-3263.
Al Harnage writes publicity for Rails to Trails of the Withlacoochee.