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Trail planned to link Anclote parks

HOLIDAY — Parks enthusiasts could soon get another bike and walking trail in Holiday as the county expands its trail system and builds connections to paths in neighboring counties.

The 1.2-mile paved trail would link Anclote River Park and Anclote Gulf Park, giving cyclists a safer place to ride and creating a place for bird watchers to spot the nearby osprey and bald eagle nests.

"There are a lot of people who come from hither, thither and yon to come and look at the birds," said County Commissioner Ann Hildebrand, whose district includes the two Anclote parks.

The Tourist Development Council last week set aside $200,000 in hotel taxes to pay for half the cost of the trail. That award still needs final approval from the County Commission. Parks officials hope a federal grant will cover the rest of the cost.

As birders come to check out the eagles, many pull over to the side of the road when they see a nest. That can clog the two-lane Baillie's Bluff Road that runs between the two parks.

"We feel like this is a perfect project for that grant," said county parks director Rick Buckman. "We're trying to get people off the road when they're viewing those nests."

Buckman hopes to connect the new trail to the Pinellas Trail, which currently ends just north of downtown Tarpon Springs.

Tarpon Springs officials have enough money to extend the Pinellas Trail to the county line by 2014. Then, Pasco would have to build a roughly 2-mile segment to create a connection at Anclote Boulevard and L&R Industrial Boulevard.

Buckman is working on two other trail connections. One would link the Starkey Boulevard Trail to a trail along East Lake Road, and the other would connect Dade City to the Withlacoochee State Trail.

Eventually, Buckman said, Pasco wants to create a continuous trail that runs along the coast. Such a project would emulate the Pinellas Trail, a 47-mile path for joggers and bicyclists that runs along an abandoned railroad corridor from downtown St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs.

"We're hoping to be able to connect the parks down in the Holiday area and work our way all the way up to Hernando," he said.

Lee Logan can be reached at llogan@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6236.

Trail planned to link Anclote parks 11/24/11 [Last modified: Thursday, November 24, 2011 3:58pm]

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