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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column:With tourists gone, it’s time to visit our trails

This week's Moser column focuses on great parks and preserves in Lee County for running and hiking, activities during the last week of the transportation exhibition, and an advocacy report on impact fees.
It had been a while since I did some real trail running. Other than getting off of the pavement for bits and pieces of my runs, I hadn’t visited any of our excellent parks or preserves for some time. So when a weekend morning unexpectedly became free, my wife Maria and I headed to Prairie Pines Preserve just off U.S. 41 in North Fort Myers.

The weather couldn’t have been better, nor could the well-groomed and managed trails. I’d been there when the park first opened and was impressed with the work Lee County has done to make this preserve accessible to the public and downright beautiful. At Prairie Pines, horseback riding is part of the activities allowed along with foot traffic, so dodging road apples is part of the challenge. Our five-mile run barely got us into the actual preserve since the access trail is two miles long. From that point, many more miles of trails exist that we’ll return to explore when we’re ready for some longer distance on terrain that we’re better prepared to handle (experienced runners know that too much too soon on tricky ground takes its toll).

Lovers Key State Park is another park with miles of trails that are excellent for both running and cycling. I mention that because on Saturday, May 12, its trails will be the location for the seventh annual Turtle Trot 5K (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com). Other great trail running opportunities with significant  mileage can be found at Caloosahatchee Regional Park and Hickey Creek Regional Park, both in Alva but on opposite sides of the river, and Calusa Nature Center (www.calusanature.com) at the corner of Colonial Boulevard and Ortiz Avenue in Fort Myers. For details of these and many more, visit the website, and the trail link.

Transportation exhibition
The last few days of a transportation exhibit at Northwest Cape Library concludes with a bike helmet giveaway from 1-4 p.m. Wednesday, April 25. Recipients must be there in order to be fit with the helmet. Over the course of a month, various organizations involved with traffic safety, advocacy and automobile alternatives conducted activities and learning sessions almost daily. Some of the offerings included learning about and signing up for commuting options (www.commuterservicesfl.com; www.rideleetran.com); CarFit checkups (www.car-fit.org); traffic planning and management overviews (www.leempo.org); and traffic safety presentations, including Lee Memorial Trauma Service’s Young Driver Program (www.leecountyinjuryprevention.org). This was part of the Taking it to the Streets campaign to get folks out of their cars to try some other options while also logging their trips so they can see for themselves the financial savings and other benefits realized by doing so. The exhibit was a great success thanks to the many partners involved. The staff of Northwest Cape Regional Library deserves as much credit as anyone.

Advocacy update
A few weeks ago, the Lee County Board of County Commissioners wisely and courageously decided to resist pressure from builders who wanted impact fees completely eliminated but instead adjusted them downward as their staff and consultant suggested was the prudent thing to do. Many from the construction and development industry lobbied for a complete elimination (technically, they were asking for a two-year moratorium, but we all know they would probably never be reinstated lest the elected official who dares try be considered a “tax raiser!”). Fortunately, just as many speakers from other walks of life made the case to keep this important revenue source or we’d be shooting ourselves in the foot.

After the meeting, one county official astutely commented that the bulk of the funds raised from impact fees goes right back to the construction industry to build new libraries, schools, fire stations, parks, roads and other capital projects, so it’s hard to understand why those same folks are always seeking to eliminate the fees, especially since they often argue that it’s not them but their buyers who pay these fees. To learn more, go to BikeWalkLee's blog.

Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails.
— Dan Moser is a league cycling and CyclingSavvy instructor/ trainer and programs director for the Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at dan@floridabicycle.org or 334- 6417.

1 comment:

  1. Dan,

    Thanks for mentioning Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium. We are a great trailhead for bicycling, hiking and running. We are also celebrating National Trails Month in June with special events and promotions. All trails lead to the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium!

    Mary Rawl
    Executive Director

    ReplyDelete

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