There was a notice in today’s Lakeland Ledger that the 10-year management plan for the Lake Wales Ridge State Forest is being reviewed and revised. This area covers over 26,000 acres and is comprised on the Arbuckle, Walk-in-Water, Hesperides and Prairie tracts. Both Arbuckle and Walk-in-Water have equestrian trails.
There will be a public meeting Wednesday, January 17 at 10:30am to go over the proposed plan at Indian Lake Estates (7510 Red Grange Blvd., Indian River Estates, FL). The draft plan mentions recreation, including horseback riding, frequently as a goal with multiple objectives–some of which we, as horse people, should pay close attention. If we wish to be included, we not only should raise our voices in support AND participate in the user groups and volunteer opportunities.
Page 7: GOAL 2: Public Access and Recreational Opportunities
Objective 1: Maintain public access and recreational opportunities to allow for all recreational users during hunting seasons on Arbuckle and WIW Tracts. (Ongoing Goal)
Performance Measure: Number of visitor opportunities per day.
Objective 2: Develop additional public access and recreational opportunities to allow for all recreational users during hunting seasons, per day for typical recreational opportunities, on the Arbuckle and WIW Tracts. (Long-Term Goal)
Performance Measure: Number of additional visitor opportunities per day.
Objective 3: In order to continue to safely integrate human use into LWRSF, follow the Five-Year Outdoor Recreation Plan and update annually. (Ongoing Goal)
• Continued implementation of the Five-Year Outdoor Recreation Plan.
• Annual updates of the Five-Year Outdoor Recreation Plan completed.
Objective 4: Continue to invite and meet with the liaison panel. The panel consists of a mix of local residents, community leaders and special interest group representatives (canoe vendors, hunters, trail hikers, military, organized equestrian groups, etc.), environmental groups, and other public / private entities to establish communication and seek constructive feedback regarding the management of LWRSF. (Ongoing Goal)
• Liaison group remains organized.
• Meetings; two (2) times each year.
Objective 5: Maintain cooperation with FWC to provide guidance on
specific hunting season quotas for Arbuckle and WIW Tracts; Communicate with FWC about bag limits and hunting issues at annual cooperator meeting. (Ongoing Goal)
• Annual letter on agreed hunting issues.
• Updated rules posted and WMA brochures available in all kiosks on LWRSF.
Objective 6: Enlist additional volunteers and volunteer organizations to assist with recreation and/or resource management. (Ongoing Goal)
• Number of volunteers and organizations that assist with projects.
• Number of hours provided by volunteers.
Objective 7: Maintain hiking/equestrian trails on WIW Tract and assist Florida Trail Association (FTA) volunteers with trail maintenance on the Arbuckle Tract. (Ongoing Goal)
• Coordinate with FTA volunteers and members annually for miles of trails on the Arbuckle Tract that require trail maintenance.
• Miles of hiking/equestrian trails maintained.
Objective 8: Evaluate possible recreational opportunities on the Hesperides Tract.
• Opportunities evaluated. (Short-Term Goal)
• Recreation increased. (Long-Term Goal)
You can read the entire draft plan at http://www.freshfromflorida.com/News-Events/Event-Calendar/Meetings-and-Hearings/Lake-Wales-Ridge-State-Forest-Plan-Advisory-Group