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UNF trails to be repaired: a deeper look

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The nature trails were severely damaged by hurricane activity in 2016. 

<i>Photo by Michael Herrera</i>

The nature trails were severely damaged by hurricane activity in 2016. Photo by Michael Herrera

The nature trails were severely damaged by hurricane activity in 2016. Photo by Michael Herrera

Audrey Carpenter

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Video by Jas Chung

The UNF trail system has been damaged for over a year, with the red maple boardwalk completely inaccessible, but a recent Student Government request will supply partial funding to fix it.

The nearly 35-year-old red maple boardwalk is the only handicap accessible section and runs along Lake Oneida and Buckhead Branch Swamp. At the Jan. 23 SG senate meeting $200,000 was requested to repair the boardwalk.

Amy Costa, Assistant Director of EcoAdventure, said Campus Recreation had an architectural review done on the trails last year. She said the process of getting a bid from local contractors was underway.

According to SG, the total amount needed to completely repair the trails is $500,000. Campus Recreation and President John Delaney have agreed to help reach this goal.

If all funds are met, the goal is to start construction on the trails this summer so they will be ready for the fall 2017 semester.

Costa said the trails are open except for the handicap accessible section. “Where we take our school groups, we can’t use those boardwalks anymore, and there’s a few out on the trails that are in pretty bad shape but you can kind of walk around them,” Costa said.

Costa said there are around 100 people a day that use the trails for running and hiking. She believes they are the most adored trails in all of Jacksonville.

“Sometimes I’ll come out here at 4 or 5 in the morning to start my run and when I get done around 6 a.m. or 7 a.m., people are starting to run and hike on the trails,” Costa said. “They’re beautiful trails, it’s just you see so much wildlife. I saw a deer last night at dusk, there’s bats out there, it’s just neat. I see students out there studying in different sections and just enjoying the trails.”

Manny Velasquez, junior business administration and transportation and logistics major, and member of the UNF track and cross country team, said the team’s use of the trails has decreased. He also said that since the boardwalk has been closed he’s noticed a huge decrease in trail usage.

“Over time we just stopped even going towards that area [the boardwalks], which forced us to go kind of just back and forth on one trail the whole time,” Velasquez said.

Another UNF student and track athlete, Brad Hort, a senior marketing major, said he was injured on the trails last year and is excited that they are going to be fixed.

“I twisted my ankle and it swelled up for about two weeks so I wasn’t able to run and compete for a couple meets,” Hort said. “Now that they are actually going to fix this problem on the trails, I mean, I might start coming back.”

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UNF trails to be repaired: a deeper look