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LOST without Partnerships - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers partners with multiple agencies to improve facilities along the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail

Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail
 
Bike rider on newly paved trail
 

Lake: Okeechobee Lake, FL

Partners: USACE; Florida Department of Transportation; Florida Department of Environmental Protection; South Florida Water Management District; Florida Trail Association, Florida National Scenic Trail

Partnership Type: MOA

Corps POC: Art Ruebenson, Supervisory Park Ranger

Story: The 110-mile Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail (LOST) encircles Lake Okeechobee utilizing the crown road of the Herbert Hoover Dike, maintained by the Corps of Engineers. The LOST is located on lands held in fee simple title by the State of Florida, administered by the FDEP. The trail provides multi-use recreation, attracts visitors to the area, and provides economic benefits to the surrounding communities.

In the early 1990’s, the FDOT began a series of public meetings to discuss local interest in an improved trail surface suitable for all recreational user groups.  FDOT, USACE, FDEP, and SFWMD met to define agency roles for implementing the LOST and worked cooperatively to get the trail certified as part of the Florida National Scenic Trail.

Today, the Corps and the FDEP are working under an MOA establishing a framework governing the O&M responsibilities of the LOST. The two agencies have agreed to provide assistance for the planning and development of facilities on State land, completion of environmental or other compliance requirements, and administration of the portion of the LOST that crosses FDEP lands. Planned improvements include a paved trail surface, bicycle/pedestrian bridges over canals and around locks, shelters, trailheads, restrooms, kiosks, boardwalks, and additional campsites.

Recent improvements include the paving of a 28-mile section of trail in 2003 by the FDOT using TEA-21 money. This winter, 36 miles of trail are scheduled for paving. In addition, SFWMD is coordinating with the FDOT to allow safe passage across or around the water control structures they manage along the LOST. 

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