An Ecotour Helps the Economy
In a time when small businesses may be struggling, the Walker family took a leap, and now they're helping Ocala tourists take a different kind of leap...from a zip line. I had a chance to visit the Walkers at Zip Line and Canopy Tours to get a new perspective on the treetops and the economy of Ocala.
Course Manager Bobby Walker says the goals are simple:
"Really create some new jobs. We've already hired about 30 people here and they're all locals from around the area, and we're hoping to hire 25 more in late January, early February."
As everyone saddled up and chatted, I discovered most of the tourists on the ride drove in from out of town. Paul Jordan is from Beverly Hills in Citrus County.
"It's been wonderful," he says, "definitely enjoyable, enlightening, not something you would do on an every day basis but well worth doing."
The course features the longest, highest and fastest zip line in the state. It's called the Speed Trap, and for good reason. It's 1,100 feet long and when you put a certain reporter on the zip line with camera in hand, you may hear some pretty far reaching sound effects.
The property's history also fits neatly with the Walkers' mantra of preservation.
"For the most part," says Bobby Walker, "we try to keep it as natural as we can. The property was an old abandoned lime rock mine in the 1940's. The features here are unlike any other. And we're trying to preserve that and keep it as natural as possible."
And in preserving it, they're also hoping to open the eyes of the eco-adventurists sailing across the forest.
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