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Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

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Group now seeking sponsors to erect miniature billboards on state trails


Published:   |   Updated: July 23, 2014 at 05:21 PM

It’s unclear what companies, if any, are willing to shell out cash for miniature billboards on state trails.

State lawmakers looking to raise money for trail upkeep passed a law in 2012 allowing companies and nonprofit groups to sponsor seven trails and place signs to announce their support.

The trails include the Withlacoochee State Trail that passes through Hernando and Pasco counties.

In April, Florida Department of Environmental Protection officials inked a deal with New York-based Bike Path Country to act as a middleman to get sponsors.

The sponsorship bill had drawn opposition from environmentalists, who worried about the visual effect of signs on trails.

The measure, however, ensured that signs cannot “intrude on natural and historic settings” and can contain only a logo and sparse, boilerplate sponsorship language.

Moreover, signs can be placed only at trailheads or access points and can be no larger than 16 square feet at trailheads and 4 square feet at access points.

“There may be more than one sponsorship on each state trail but no more than one sponsor for each trailhead and access point,” according to a state guidance statement.

In addition to the Withlacoochee trail, billed as the longest paved trail in Florida, the other trails are:

♦ Blackwater Heritage Trail, near Pensacola.

♦ Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail, south of the state capital.

♦ Nature Coast State Trail in north Florida.

♦ Palatka-Lake Butler State Trail, also in north Florida.

♦ General James A. Van Fleet State Trail in central Florida.

♦ Overseas Heritage Trail in the Florida Keys.

Tribune/Scripps reached out to Bike Path Country and the DEP earlier Wednesday for an update but hasn’t gotten a response. We’ll update when we do.

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UPDATE: DEP spokeswoman Mara Burger later Wednesday said in an email that in fact “there are no sponsors yet.”

She referred questions about timing and business tactics to Bike Path Country. We still haven’t gotten a response from them.

Burger added that the agreement with that organization “ends one year from the date of execution (April 1, 2014) and may be renewed for up to two additional two-year renewal periods.”

“A deadline (for results) was not included in the agreement,” she said.

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