TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Advertising signs are coming to a state park or trail near you soon.
Gov. Rick Scott has signed a bill that allows the state to raise money by selling advertising space at trails and parks. Eighty-five percent of the cash generated by the advertising will go for maintenance or construction of trails and parks. The rest will fund bicycle and pedestrian safety programs.
The new law is raising concerns about commercializing natural areas. Chuck Droessler was out enjoying the St. Marks State Trail in Tallahassee on Tuesday. He said he doesn't like the idea because he uses the trail to get away from city life.
"I understand the reasoning behind it and the need for revenue because the state budget is hurting, but I come to these natural areas to get away from the city and get away from urbanization and advertising and all that sort of thing so I can enjoy nature just as it is."
The Florida Trail Association worked with state lawmakers to limit the size of advertising signs and restrict their placement. Signs will be allowed at trailheads, parking areas, or public access points.
Kent Wimmer says the association will work to make sure the signs don't become a visual blight. "We want these signs to be consistent and compatible with our natural and cultural heritage that these trails represent."
Wimmer says Florida has done a good job over the past 20 years expanding its network of trails and that's giving Floridians a chance to enjoy the state's natural heritage. He hopes the new law proves to be a creative way to build on that commitment.
"It really provides them an opportunity to see the best parts of Florida, the areas that make Florida special."
The law will allow advertising by businesses or nonprofit groups.
It takes effect July 1.