Blueways Program

Florida Paddling Trails Blueway CommunityThe Florida Paddling Trails Association, a 501(c)(3) organization is proud to have established the Florida Paddling Trails Blueway Community Program. This program helps communities develop locations of interest to both in-state paddlers and out-of-state tourists. Florida's climate, natural surroundings, and vast navigable waterways make our state an ideal destination. Currently we have 57 designated paddling trails on various rivers and streams and the impressive 1,515-mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail (CT).

Here's how you can get your community started:

Blueway Community Program

Kayak RentalsIt should come as little surprise to savvy Florida development councils that many tourists seek natural areas and outdoor activities for their vacations. The state is blessed with a climate and the natural surroundings that make it a destination for nature-based tourism. The state of Florida has over 40 designated paddling trails on various rivers and streams as well as the 1515 mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail.

The Florida Paddling Trails Association is inviting communities on these Blueways and river trails to participate in the Florida Paddling Trails Blueway Community Program.

If your community offers basic tourism amenities such as lodging and restaurants, then FPTA can help you market your resources to outdoor recreation enthusiasts as a nature-based tourism destination, resulting in local economic stimulus and increased public awareness of natural Florida. Casual paddlers, day paddlers, and weekend paddlers all want to enjoy the outdoors and your community can provide the gateway to their experience via the Florida Paddling Trails.

For a community to apply for Florida Blueway Community status, key criteria includes:
  • Proximity to a Florida paddling trail or Blueway
  • Availability of accommodations, from hotels to B&Bs to campgrounds
  • Availability of restaurants and places to eat
  • Additional outdoor recreation opportunities such as hiking and biking trails, birding, boating, fishing, beaches or traditional visitor draws such as historic districts, museums, shopping and major attractions

BluewaysThe process of being designated a Blueway Community begins by bringing together local community leaders, tourism affiliates, business leaders, and members of the Florida Paddling Trails Association to discuss the communities' nature-based tourism ideas and needs.

A representative from Florida Paddling Trails Association will become your key contact, assisting your community in providing visitors information about the Florida Paddling Trails and in scheduling guided paddling trips as well as providing general knowledge about the trail in your area.

By working together on promotional products, educational resources and special events, FPTA and the Blueway Community can increase each others ability to apply for targeted grants to assist in the community's efforts towards nature-based tourism development, economic development, and trail related infrastructure development.

We provide the know-how and volunteer support, you provide the destination and community support. It's a great partnership to bring more people to your community.

Becoming a FPTA Blueway Community

First, community leaders meet with Florida Paddling Trails Association representatives and agree to the concept of the designation as a Florida Paddling Trail Blueway Community. The proposal is brought before the community's city or town council for approval. A proposed proclamation is provided by the Florida Paddling Trail Association. After the community issues the Proclamation, Memorandum of Understanding is signed which lists the responsibilities of each party such as the example below.

ParticipateThe Florida Paddling Trails Association will:
  • Work with the Blueway Community to achieve an official trail designation by the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails
  • Actively promote the Blueway Community as a destination through its website and other media
  • Assist in planning and preparation for a celebration of the designation in or near the Blueway Community
  • Offer outreach materials to the community such as brochures, newsletters, posters, and displays
  • Provide detailed information on paddling opportunities near the community, which can be reproduced and distributed to visitors to the Blueway Community
  • Provide periodic paddle events that depart from the Blueway Community
  • Provide Florida Paddling Trails Blueway Community decals to local businesses and civic buildings for display in their windows
  • Regularly monitor sections of the Blueway so that the casual paddler can easily locate and follow it
  • Make available metal signs with the Florida Paddling Trails Blueway Community logo for posting at entrances to the Blueway Community
The Blueway Community will:
  • Become a FPTA member
  • Include the Florida Paddling Trails Blueway and the Florida Paddling Trails Association in their promotional materials
  • Make Florida Paddling Trails Blueway information available to the public at local visitor centers and/or Chamber of Commerce and provide space for a Florida Paddling Trails Association display or wall mounted poster
  • Work with local Florida Paddling Trail Association trail keepers to promote periodic paddles or events
  • Monitor the number of visitors who are seeking the Blueway Community as a destination for paddling
  • Attract businesses that support nature-based tourism such as outfitters, hostels and shuttling services and assure that Florida Paddling Trails Association maps and guides will be available from a business in town for visitors to purchase
  • Encourage local businesses to provide discounts on accommodations or special weekend packages for visitors who show their Florida Paddling Trails Association membership card
  • Assist in procuring procuring Blueway Community roadway signs at the entrance to the town as soon as possible after the issuance of the proclamation
  • Link from Blueway specific websites/web pages to the FPTA website

If you'd like to get started as a Florida Paddling Trails Blueway Community, please contact our President at [email protected]. Thank you!