LINC is helping to raise awareness of the real opportunity to protect a connected corridor of natural land and water across the north-south length of Florida. LINC is a contributing partner to The Florida Wildlife Corridor project and is bringing its mission to life through art and imagery.
From the Everglades to the Okefenokee Swamp: 1,000 miles in 100 days
Did you follow the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition's 1,000 miles in 100 days trek up peninsular Florida? Did you interact with the Expedition Team through social media? Maybe you joined them on a portion of their way–hiking, kayaking, cycling, slogging or horseback riding? It wasn't just the four members of the Expedition on this incredible journey. State agency officials, artists, elected and appointed figures, school children, journalists, historians, celebrities and countless other Floridians interested in the future of their homeland traveled along with the Expedition Team at different points between the Everglades and the Florida-Georgia line.
Even though they successfully finished their journey on Earth Day in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, you can still follow the Expedition in a film being produced by LINC Affiliate Artist Elam Stoltzfus that will be broadcasted in late 2012 or early 2013. Stoltzfus' documentary films are known for their analytical journalism and superior production value, but his storytelling and artist's eye are what makes his films both engaging and entertaining.
The film documents the adventures of the Expedition Team exploring the Florida Wildlife Corridor–a proposed greenway of undeveloped and natural lands spanning the state that haven't been overly impacted by people. Yet. It is life sustaining for the state's wide-ranging animals like panthers and bears that require expansive landscapes. It is also necessary for the state's natural systems to remain functioning. These waterways and natural areas sustain not only wildlife, but urban communities as well. If protected, the Corridor could serve as something of a natural spine for the peninsula.
The four month Expedition was about ground-truthing the corridor–to study the natural areas the way a wide-ranging species would utilize it. To do this they crossed cottonmouths and interstates; slogged muddy sloughs and plodded through the soft-soft sand of ancient sand dunes.
They ate traditional meals with Seminole Indians, went horseback riding with game wardens, and chuckled with cowboy poets around the campfire. Gasping at blooming orchids, bubbling springs, and illusive panther tracks, they endured mosquitoes, ticks and scorpions. They dodged military bases, prisons, and urban sprawl only to find rare plants, endangered landscapes and spectacular birds. "The diversity of the wildlife we encountered was rejuvenating for me as a biologist," the Expedition's Joe Guthrie confesses. "The tenacity of these species is remarkable, and I really believe saving them is doable! While their populations are certainly not what they used to be, the game isn't over. It is possible to sustain these species, but we don't have a lot of time."
All this effort and interest in the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition is about making sure Floridians know "Wild Florida" still exists–that it's still there, and it's still functioning in some places–but that the window of opportunity is quickly closing. The Expedition's leader, LINC Founder and President Carlton Ward Jr, admits that he was hopeful that walking the state with a crew of experts would be a good news story that would generate publicity. But he also explains that their mission involved more than simply a publicity stunt. "We really wanted Floridians to join us in whatever way they could. The social media component added significant value to effort. Really good questions were asked and insightful comments were made that will be incredibly useful to both scientists and policy makers."
Publicity for the event was prolific and news of the team's travels was promoted in local, state and national media outlets. But the Expedition Team is determined to keep the momentum up for the formal designation of a Florida Wildlife Corridor. "It's not over," the Expedition's Mallory Dimmitt maintains, "In fact, this is just the beginning!" Dimmitt is a LINC Board Member and a conservationist with The Nature Conservancy. "Sustaining the wildlife corridor is going to require a formal commitment by the State of Florida. Government moves slowly and we really need voters to step up, and ask for this to happen now. Private landowners are already willing to participate in the effort, and with their ranches and groves connected to existing public lands, the Corridor really can be a reality."
Relive the Journey
The Blog: http://www.floridawildlifecorridor.org/blog/
Joe Guthrie’s photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/75103055@N03/
Carlton Ward Jr’s photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carltonward/?v=1
Everglades Conservation Atlas
A generous grant of $25,000 from RBC Capital Markets has enabled The Legacy Institute for Nature & Culture (LINC), in partnership with National Geographic's Maps Division, to build a Greater Everglades Conservation Atlas based on place-based works of art. This project will be the beginning of a publicly accessible web atlas of the Everglades watershed.
The Atlas will showcase the Everglades as never before, through the eyes of Florida's visual artists. Ten photographers, painters, print makers and videographers have created original place-based art to celebrate unique places and issues throughout the Greater Everglades.
The artists were interviewed in the field, and their stories have been added to the Atlas. We also provide a written summary of their comments here, as well as links to inspiring videos clips from the interviews.
You can follow along by visiting the Atlas. Click on the image below to begin your journey!