I want to let everyone know that important portions of the Santos trail system are currently in jeopardy and your help is needed. Please take a moment to review this info and follow up with appropriate e-mails as described below. We need and appreciate your help.
The Florida Horse Park, which has a restricted lease on 500 acres of Greenway land between 475 and 475A (the section of the Santos trails just to the east of the Land Bridge Trailhead, aka the Barns Section), is attempting to restrict all other trails users (mountain bikers, hikers, and equestrians) from the land occupied by the horse park except for a 50' corridor or "buffer zone" around the horse park. We would essentially be forced out of some of the current trail in that area and our ability to use the newly built underpasses under 475 and 475A (busy roadways) would be greatly hampered. This is not acceptable, would be dangerous, and threatens our trails (we would be forced to abandon over 1/2 mile of trail). Forcing four user groups (hikers, equestrians, wagons, mountain bikers) into a 50' wide corridor would be dangerous as it would not be possible to separate user groups.
There is an acceptable solution, which has been proposed by the land manager (the Office of Greenways and trails), which would create a 150' buffer around the horse park instead of a 50' buffer. If this 150' buffer is accepted by the horse park, it would allow safe trails for mountain bikers, hikers, and equestrians on both sides of the horse park. Mountain bikers would then get to build new trail to replace that which would be lost if the horse park fences us out. Getting fenced out is not fair, but if the 150' buffer is provided it would be a fair compromise that we and other user groups could live with.
The problem? The horse park basically wants its way, is currently saying "no" to the Office of Greenways and Trails proposal, and wants to limit all other users to the narrow 50' corridor even though it doesn't need that land, and had been offered compensating acreage to the north of their current parcel.
We are suggesting all mountain bikers e-mail the Florida Horse Park executive director regarding this issue. A sample e-mail is as follows:
"I am a mountain biker and use the Santos trail system. The Florida Horse Park's attempts to limit other users to a 50' corridor between CR475 and CR475A is dangerous, unacceptable, and unfair. I urge you to change your position, cooperate with other user groups, and agree to the 150' corridor recommended by the Office of Greenways and Trails. If the horse park does not do so, I will support OMBA and other interested mountain biking organizations and other user groups in all appropriate efforts they undertake to protect the rights of all trail users.
You can send this e-mail to the horse park's executive director, CJ Marcello, at email@example.com. We also recommend you copy it to the following:
Jena Brooks, Office of Greenways and Trails, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mickey Thomason, Office of Greenways and Trails, email@example.com
Rob Ern, VP, OMBA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you all in advance for your help!
For the Trails,
Rob Ern, VP, OMBA