Friday, March 12, 2010

Florida Greenways and Trails Office again on chopping block--take action to defeat proposal

Once again, the Florida Greenways and Trails Office is on the chopping block in the State Legislature. Please e-mail the members of the Senate General Government Appropriations Commmittee before Tuesday’s 3/16 vote on this proposal. Below is the lettter I sent, which includes the e-mail addresses for all the committee members. Add your voices! Darla

From: Darla []
Sent: Friday, March 12, 2010 2:02 PM
To: (; (; Senator Carey Baker (; Senator Charles Dean (; Senator Dave Aronberg (
Subject: Urge you not to cut Greenways & Trails program

Members of the Senate General Government Appropriations Committee,

At Tuesday’s Committee meeting, I urge you to reject a proposal to eliminate the Office of Greenways and Trails and merge its functions with the state park system. The elimination of the 16 positions that run the Greenways and Trails program would essentially kill one of the shining stars of Florida’s recreation and tourism business, all to save $1 million. The Greenways and Trails system receives 4 million visitors a year in Florida has an economic impact of $95 million a year. This program cannot run without a staff and this small investment is yielding strong returns on our investment.

Just as the country is focused on alternative forms of transportation and on more healthy lifestyles to fight obesity, Florida would be eliminating one of its most successful programs to make progress on both those fronts. The residents and visitors of Florida consider the greenways and trails important to the quality of life here and what brings visitors back each year. I urge you to make smart economic decisions when you make budget cuts, and this proposal is not one of them. This office actually brings in revenues to the state.

I am part of the steering group of BikeWalkLee, a coalition working to complete Lee County’s streets—streets that provide safe and convenient travel for all road users—pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. We value active recreation and promote the benefits of bicycling and walking. Florida has so much potential to be a biking/walking destination given its weather, however, we are ranked in the bottom third of all states for our bike and pedestrian investments and safety, according to a recent national study by the Alliance for Biking and Walking, “Bicycling and Walking in the U.S.: 2010 Benchmarking Report”.

This report provides new evidence of Florida state government’s neglect of pedestrians and bicyclists, as shown in the poor scoring by every benchmarking indicator—from the share of commuters who bicycle and walk to work, to safety, funding, staffing, and bike/pedestrian policies. Florida is already lagging behind most other states. I urge you not to make the situation even worse by adopting the proposal to eliminate the Office of Greenways and Trails.


Darla Letourneau
Steering Group
a coalition to complete Lee County's streets

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