How Does a Site Get on the Trail?
Anyone can nominate a site - birders, butterfly watchers, nature photographers, citizen conservationists, tourism representatives or land managers. Subscribe to the Kite Tales newsletter to receive regular updates and learn when the nomination process is open in your area!
Each site is evaluated based on the following set of criteria:
- Ecological significance. Emphasis will be given to high quality or significant bird and wildlife habitats, especially those that contribute to species diversity on a regional level.
- Birding and wildlife viewing characteristics. The probability of seeing birds and wildlife, at least during specified season(s), is high. The main viewing attraction(s) are native, free-roaming species. Consideration may be given to species valued by the public for their beauty or rarity. Sites devoted primarily to non-native species will not be considered.
- Site resiliency. The site has the ability to withstand public usage. Fragile ecosystems or habitats with sensitive species should not be included. Other sites which have birds during sensitive periods of the life cycle (i.e. breeding and nesting) can have restricted visitor access during those times, unless it can be demonstrated that public use can be sufficiently confined so as not to harm the site's natural values that make it good wildlife habitat.
- Physical and legal access. The site is reasonably accessible to the public. In the absence of guaranteed public access to private land, viewing from an adjacent public road may be recommended with the cooperation from all parties involved.
- Public ownership - the site is open to public use.
- Private ownership - the landowner is willing to guarantee in writing public access, including controlled public access through guided, prearranged tours.
- Economic significance. A community tourism infrastructure, such as a Chamber of Commerce or Tourism Development Council, exits in the adjacent community(ies).
- Maintenance support. Site has full support of all partners involved, especially partners providing maintenance of the site other than state or federal partners.
- Educational significance. Site has educational signage or programs pertaining to birds.
A diversity of sites is appropriate for the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail – it features something for all skill and mobility levels. Sites can be on public or private land; provide excellent birding/wildlife viewing year-round or just in one season; their access can even be restricted to "appointments only." If you have questions about whether a potential site is appropriate for the Trail program, please contact the Trail Coordinator at GFBT AT myfwc.com. It may be a fabulous birdwatching/wildlife viewing opportunity and a great benefit to your local economy.
What Happens After a Site is Nominated?
After a site nomination is submitted, the application form is checked for completion. If it was not submitted by the property owner/manager, the Trail Coordinator contacts the land manager to congratulate them, and then forwards it for their review, and hopefully, their concurrence.
Trail staff visit each nominated site. Meeting with site managers and nominators is helpful, but not always possible; therefore, the completeness of your application is very important.
Selection of Sites
A steering committee meets to review the nominated sites and to make the final selection. The committee is comprised of representatives from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Audubon, and Florida's tourism industry.
When Will Nominations for Each Section be Accepted Again?
There is no current schedule for reopening the trail for adding new sites. However, nominations may be submitted at any time and will be kept on file until the next evaluation period.