Most weekends, Jupiter, Fla., land planner Rob Cotleur and his paddling
companions point their kayaks along a 22-mile route of interconnected trails
running through the Loxahatchee River, Intracoastal Waterway and Jupiter
Designated the Jupiter Waterway Trail, the route contains several legs and off-shoots and is popular with avid kayakers, like Cotleur, as well as stand-up paddleboarders, snorkelers and boaters.
"It's like a spider web of trails," Cotleur said. "It's nice to see the vegetation change as you go down the river from one to another, if you can identify that. You have some alligators, and then you finish with a porpoise. It's completely unique."
Russ Ruskay, the town's director of business development, thinks so too.
For the past several months, he's been working with town administrators, the Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council, the South Florida Water Management District and other local agencies to implement an eco-tourism initiative that promotes the town's waterways and local businesses.
The two-part plan -- expected to be rolled out in stages beginning this winter -- is designed to develop and enhance recreational opportunities along the Jupiter Waterway Trail as well as help promote local eco-tourism businesses.
"Jupiter is unique and has so much water and open space," said Ruskay, referring to the town's 894 acres of waterways and 716 acres of open space.
"Not only are there benefits to recreational usages, but there's also the business flip side of it. We want to provide additional recreational amenities, but we also want to try and help our eco-tourism businesses."
The town has put together a task force composed of local residents and business owners to help implement the plan, a key component of which is to develop a mobile app. The app -- aimed at eco-tourists -- would provide users with the location of kayak trails and launch locations along the Jupiter Waterway Trail, as well as information on kayak rentals and sales, places to eat and more.
Many details still have to be worked out, including whether the town will charge a fee for businesses to be on the app, Ruskay said.
The town also must get permission from the South Florida Water Management District to develop a portage around the Loxahatchee River's Southwest Fork. A portage, or route, would allow kayakers to carry their vessels between trails.
"It's a pretty aggressive plan for a community of our size," Ruskay said. "But we're very excited to make this happen and move forward. We want people to come to Jupiter, stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, and go to our kayak rental shops."
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