Keys Heritage Trail might go commercial

A Florida Senate committee on Tuesday approved a compromise proposal that could allow commercial sponsorships of seven greenways and trails across the state — including the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail.

The Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee voted unanimously for a scaled-back bill (SB 268) that would allow sponsor signs in parking areas, trailheads and public-access points. The possible sites besides the Keys are the Blackwater Heritage Trail, Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail, Nature Coast State Trail, Withlacoochee State Trail, General James A. Van Fleet State Trail and Palatka-Lake Butler State Trail.

When complete, the Overseas Heritage Trail will run from Key Largo to Stock Island. It’s designed as a multi-use bicycle and pedestrian path that includes educational kiosks, picnic areas, scenic overlooks, fishing piers and boat ramps. Much of the trail, whose lead agency is the state Department of Environmental Protection, is already complete in Islamorada and the Lower Keys.

“If you have a source to fund your project, frankly, I’m all for it,” said Sen. Nancy Detert (R-Venice).