The last time we checked in with Carlton Ward Jr. was when the Tampa photographer was premiering the documentary based on his 1,000-mile trip hiking and kayaking up the length of Florida.
Now, the leader of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition is setting his sights on a largely untouched river that flows into Lake Okeechobee. Beginning today, he'll be part of a group that's traveling roughly 60 miles over four days down Fisheating Creek- by paddleboard.
They're starting at a ranch just north of State Road 70 that belong to Ward's cousin, Doyle Carlton III. He and the adjacent landowners joined together to do a 27,000-acre conservation easement with USDA back in 2010 to protect and restore the headwaters of Fisheating Creek. This area is considered an important stepping stone within the Florida Wildlife Corridor. In addition to food production and wildlife habitat, these lands will be important in helping improve the water quality of Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades.
Also Ward tells us of a successor trip the 2012 Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition. It's expected to begin in the headwaters of the Kissimmee River/Everglades ecosystem, go northwest past Interstate 4 through the Green Swamp, continue through the Withlacoochee River system and Big Bend preserved areas, and then wind its way through the Panhandle. The exact route will be determined at an upcoming meeting of the stakeholders involved in the Expedition. You can read archived reports of WUSF's coverage of the trip here.
Ward tells WUSF's Steve Newborn that it's all part of his message that Florida's natural lands need to be preserved.
Here's some links to the project and some of the people taking part in the journey:
http://www.fisheatingcreekoutpost.com/showpage.asp?page=paddling (great resource for others interested in paddling there)