59. Behind the Scenes on the Florida Trail | Shawn Thomas, FNST Program Administrator, USFS

As I’ve set out to create this third season of the podcast I’ve been trying to bring more land managers to the podcast to get a bit of a more rounded outlook on just what the Florida Trail is overall. Many folks may not even know that the USFS is a key component in the Florida Trail’s protection and overall administration. The Florida Trail Association may be the overall face of the Florida Trail in many ways, but the USFS, like the National Park Service for the Appalachian Trail, is the federal government component to how the trail is protected through the National Scenic Trails system.

Shawn offers a lot of insight into what his duties are with the Forest Service, from how sometimes the smallest acts such as creating a short boardwalk through a wetland can create a few extra steps to get completed than what we might envision as we are walking across that wetland, how he coordinates with other land managers throughout the state as well as the FTA, and what he hopes to see happen with the Florida Trail in the future. I tried to cover a few topics that I knew were coming up as potentially problematic with hikers but if you want to reach out to Shawn directly to let him know any of your concerns, he gives his email in the podcast and I’ve included his contact information in the show notes for the podcast as well. In addition, I’m including several links in the shownotes for the podcast so you can understand some of the items we talk about, particularly with the Big Bend re-route, which we don’t go into detail about but there’s been several big changes over the last year regarding that. I’m also going to include the link to the original comprehensive plan for the FT from the 80s which is absolutely fascinating to read.

I enjoyed the conversation with Shawn because it was an aspect of the Florida Trail I didn’t fully understand how it fit into the picture until recently and Shawn fleshed a bit more of that information out in our conversation.

Music: “Breathing” by Lee Rosevere

Show Notes
+Shawn’s email: shawn.c.thomas@usda.gov
+Florida Trail 1986 Comprehensive Plan
+USFS FNST Land Resource Management Documents
+FNST Coalition
+Big Bend Re-route info:
+Corridor Location Review, Twin Rivers State Forest to Aucilla River Gap – USDA Forest Service, National Forests in Florida, June 2016
+Closing the Big Bend Gap – Florida Hikes!
+Big Bend Reroute Concerns – Friends of the Florida Trail
+Big Bend Reroute of the Florida National Scenic Trail Decision Memo – USFS
+Friends of the Florida Trail v. USFS lawsuit
+Withdrawal of the Big Bend Reroute Decision Memo – USFS
+Central Florida Re-route info:
+Florida National Scenic Trail to move away from roads in Central Florida – Orlando Sentinel
+Completing the FNST in Orange & Osceola Counties – FTA Footprint, Summer 2013, page 28
+Across Deseret: Florida Trail History – FTA Footprint Summer 2016 page 7

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