110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Gimbert gets political, gets gubernatorial candidate's support for opening up Tiger Bay to motorized traffic
By Pat Andrews
posted Jun 26, 2014 - 9:58:38am
For more than a year, Greg Gimbert has been trying to get Tiger Bay State Forest opened up to trucks and off-road vehicles. He’s a man with a plan, however.
First, he got the backing of gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie, a Libertarian.
Second, Gimbert entered the race for the District 2 seat on Soil and Water Conservation District and won, unopposed. He anticipates being the District’s representative to the Tiger Bay State Forest Policy Advisory Board where he will join a representatives including Josh Wagner from County Council, state forest staff, an equestrian and hunters’ group and other users groups.
He spoke with some of the others before he went to the Elections Office to qualify June 20.
Gimbert said, “I’ve done my homework to build support with the other potential future Soil and Water Board members” on opening up the state forest trails to off-road recreation.
After touring Tiger Bay with Gimbert June 11, gubneratorial candidate Wyllie told The Beacon the park should be opened up to people who will use it, and who have a vested interest in it. Right now, Wyllie said, hardly anyone goes in there, and the lack of use could make the land vulnerable to development.
"It belongs to the people," Wyllie said.
He promised to work to open up the forest, if he is elected.
The trails in Tiger Bay State Forest, off U.S. Highway 92 between Daytona Beach and DeLand, are closed to traffic except for a few main arteries that run through its 27,395 acres.
During a ride through the forest last year, those few arteries were deserted, while closed-off trails seemed to invite exploration through the woods.
Gimbert, who can't hike for long distances because of a back injury, would like to be able to roam the woods with his son in a four-wheel-drive pickup.
He sees no problem with ATVs and dirt bikes having a space in the forest for recreation. There's no place for such activities in Volusia County, he said, pointing out that parks in other counties have opened up areas for motorized activities. Withlacoochee State Forest is one; it has been open to off-highway vehicles since 1972.
Gimbert got the backing of the City of Daytona Beach for opening up Tiger Bay.
He also got the support of County Council Member Josh Wagner and County Chair Jason Davis when Daytona Beach asked the County Council to approve a resolution asking the state to allow some vehicular activity in Tiger Bay. That request failed, however, on a 5-2 vote by the County Council in March 2013. Other County Council members said they wanted to stay out of a state decision.
Gimbert disputes arguments from the forestry service and Audubon Society that vehicles shouldn't be allowed on Tiger Bay trails because of the forest's wetlands and recharge areas. Gimbert said most of the land is palmetto scrub, high and dry.
Forest officials disagree. The state website describes Tiger Bay State Forest as consisting of large areas of swamp with embedded pine islands and a large pine ridge area, containing wildlife corridors and roaming habitat for the Florida black bear and nesting and foraging area for the bald eagle.
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