Florida Greenways & Trails System
GREENWAY is defined in the Florida Statutes Chapter 260 as a linear open space established along either a natural corridor, such as a riverfront, stream valley, or ridgeline, or over land along a railroad right-of-way converted to recreational use, a canal, a scenic road, or other route; any natural or landscaped course for pedestrian or bicycle passage; an open space connector linking parks, nature reserves, cultural features, or historic sites with each other and populated areas; or a local strip or linear park designated as a parkway or greenbelt. Within the landscape, greenways serve at least three major functions: they protect and/or enhance remaining natural, cultural and historic resources; they provide linear open space for compatible human use; and they maintain connectivity between conservation lands, communities, parks, other recreational facilities, and cultural and historic sites. These connections are critical to the health, well-being and aesthetic values of human communities, and vital to native ecosystems and landscapes.
TRAILS are defined as linear corridors and their adjacent land or water that provide public access for recreation or authorized alternative modes of transportation. Greenways can expand recreational opportunities when trails are located within them. Cultural sites also enhance the quality of the recreational experience for trail users. Compatible recreational opportunities should be actively promoted to encourage maximum usage throughout the system with due consideration for environmental and archaeological sensitivity.
Connecting Florida's Communities with Greenways and Trails is the five year implementation plan (the Plan) for the Florida greenways and trails system. The Plan was developed through the work and consensus of a broad range of groups and stakeholders. The foundation for its development consists of various legislative actions and efforts that occurred throughout the more than 20 years prior to its adoption. Among those important steps was the legislative establishment of the Recreational Trails System in 1979. Nearly a decade later, 1000 Friends of Florida and the Conservation Fund began the visionary work of creating a connected Florida. In subsequent years, the Florida Greenways Commission was established making the bold recommendation that Florida create a system to link natural areas and open spaces, conserve native landscapes and ecosystems and offer recreational opportunities across the state. This “green infrastructure” would connect residents and visitors to the state’s natural heritage, enhance their sense of place, and enrich their quality of life. Above all, it would be an integral step toward creating a more sustainable Florida. View the Commission's report, Creating a Statewide Greenways System.
In 1995, the Florida Greenways Coordinating Council was created to continue the pioneering work of the Greenways Commission. That same year, the Department of Environmental Protection was directed to take the agency lead in the state’s greenways efforts. Working in coordination with the Florida Recreational Trails Council, these groups spent the next three years developing the Plan, identifying existing and potential pieces of the statewide system and developing specific strategies for making it a reality.
The Plan was completed in September of 1998 and was legislatively adopted in 1999. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Greenways and Trails is charged with overseeing implementation of the Plan in coordination with the Florida Greenways and Trails Council.
The broad vision underlying the Plan is summed up in its title, “Connecting Florida’s Communities with Greenways and Trails.” A Statewide System of Greenways and Trails not only connects human and natural communities, but also helps to reconnect people with one another and to nature. At its core, the Plan promotes a system that will help to ensure a more sustainable future for Florida.
One of the important foundations for Florida's greenways and trails planning effort has been the identification of ecological greenways throughout the state through the Florida Statewide Greenways System Planning Project. The goal of this effort is preparation of a recommended design or physical plan for Florida's greenways system. A premise behind the project is that connecting ecologically important areas results in a system that is truly greater than the sum of its parts. By linking native ecosystems and landscapes, greenways provide habitat for sensitive wildlife species and corridors for the movement of wildlife. Greenways are, in essence, an important component of statewide, regional and local conservation strategies.
If you have questions about the Statewide Greenways and Trails System, please contact the Regional Greenways and Trails Consultant that represents your county.
Last updated: January 16, 2013
3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 795
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-3000