The District will move forward with an evaluation of recreation on District lands.
The District’s Recreation Ad Hoc Committee, made up of four Governing Board members, approved Thursday moving forward with the evaluation process to determine if current recreational opportunities on District lands are consistent with regional and state trends.
The District’s recreation program covers about 225,000 acres of land and consists of 472 miles of trails, nine primitive campgrounds, 10 backcountry campsites and 12 equestrian campgrounds. Recreation uses include hiking, biking, horseback riding, birding, hunting, picnicking, camping, fishing and nature study/wildlife viewing.
For the evaluation, the District will be divided into four regions: Northern, Tampa Bay, Heartland and Southern. Staff will analyze each region and publish preliminary recommendations, which will be presented at public meetings in each region. The District will conduct a public survey and solicit feedback at these public meetings, through the District’s website and with other communication tools.
District staff is using a statewide process developed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as one evaluation method. But Governing Board members have asked that staff take another look at the process known as the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan to make sure it’s compatible with District needs.
Governing Board members also urged staff to make sure the survey was comprehensive.
“We want to make sure we are reaching the right people,” said Governing Board Member George Mann. “We don’t want to miss any key stakeholders.”
Once the areas are analyzed and public input is received, staff will develop preliminary recommendations. The Recreation Ad Hoc Committee will consider those and make final recommendations to the District’s Governing Board for final review and approval.
Visit http://www.watermatters.org/RecreationEvaluation for more information.