For immediate release - October 13, 2005
TAVARES — A project more than 10 months in the making is coming to fruition for Lake County as officials received confirmation yesterday, Oct. 12, that the state has granted a temporary permit for the Lake County Community Blueways Project.
A prototype brochure has been completed for the Blueways trail in the Golden Triangle area of Lake County.
The blueways project aims to identify scenic waterways in Lake County that feature nearby amenities for canoeists and kayakers. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission issued a temporary permit for eight individual trails in four distinct areas of Lake County. The trails are within the areas of the St. Johns River, Golden Triangle, Palatlakaha Basin and Oklawaha Basin. The eight trails equal about 130 total miles.
“This project would not have been possible without our partners, the Lake County Water Authority, the cities of Leesburg, Mount Dora and Tavares and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office,” said County Manager Cindy Hall.
According to Blanche Hardy, Director of the Lake County Department of Environmental Services, the permit is temporary until blueways signage is installed. The temporary permit calls for a total of 78 blueways signs to be installed along the trail routes by Jan. 30, 2006.
“The permit is temporary to allow us to submit final GPS locations of the installed signage,” Hardy said.
A nationwide program, the permitting process for the blueways designation includes approvals from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard. A blueway is similar to a hiking trail. Physical and geo-positioned markers guide trail users through the waterways. An ideal blueway trail includes an abundance of scenery and wildlife as well as easy canoe access. Each blueways designation also requires the ability to respond to waterborne search and rescue situations, which the Lake County Sheriff’s Office has had the ability to do for some time.
The idea of developing a blueways program was introduced to the Lake County Board of County Commissioners in January 2005. Since then, the Department of Environmental Services has been working diligently to complete the permitting process.
In addition to benefiting Lake County residents, the blueways program is expected to attract visiting paddlers to the County. Responsible for marketing the program, the Lake County Department of Economic Development and Tourism is in the process of developing pamphlets with maps that will outline each trail including other surrounding amenities.
Lake County Blueways
Office: (352) 343-9609; Cell: (352) 455-0445