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Wildlife Corridor: Heartland To Headwaters

The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition team has trekked through scrub, swamp and forest from one end of the state to the other. They have documented their journeys in film, books and photography exhibitions with a goal demonstrating the urgent need for an unbroken spine of wilderness running the length of Florida to give wildlife a chance for survival.

The third expedition kicked off April 15 and once again, WUSF News reporters are along for the adventure. This time around the explorers want to highlight an area of wilderness in Central Florida that is threatened on all sides by urban development and transportation infrastructure including Interstate 4.

WUSF Public Media is a sponsor of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. Follow along on with our reporters on our website and social media accounts on Facebook and on Twitter, using the hashtag #Heartland2Headwaters.

Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

Three environmentalists with the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition have wrapped up seven days trekking through Florida's urban midsection. Their mission - paddle and hike through a narrow funnel of wild land to see how animals survive the journey. 

Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

It was tough going, but members of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition finished their "mini-trek" over the weekend, traversing a green corridor between Tampa and Orlando. The explorers say they saw the most wildlife once they got past their biggest barrier - Interstate 4.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF Public Media

Members of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition emerged from a swamp south of Interstate 4 late Thursday and crossed underneath the busy highway.

Alex Morrison / Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition

Members of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition are encountering some rough patches as they try to follow a stretch of preserved land between Orlando and Tampa.  They're not expecting to cross their biggest barrier until late Thursday.

Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

Members of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition twice embarked on 1,000-mile treks across the state in the past seven years. Their mission: to bring attention to the need to protect corridors between preserved areas so wildlife can migrate through Florida.

Heartland To Headwaters

Apr 4, 2018
Steve Newborn/WUSF Public Media

The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition team trekked through scrub, swamp and forest from one end of the state to the other. WUSF News travels with them on the third expedition, which just wrapped up. 

Carlton Ward Jr. / Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition

This week on Florida Matters we meet explorers with the Florida Wildlife Corridor and discuss their upcoming expedition which gets underway later this month.


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Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, Carlton Ward, Jr., and Joe Guthrie are getting ready to set off once again into the wilds of Florida as members of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition team. In this podcast, they speak with Florida Matters host Robin Sussingham and WUSF's assistant news director Steve Newborn about the problems that Interstate 4 presents to wildlife trying to make its way across the state.

Also, how can you hike for 1,000 miles and still gain weight?

Carlton Ward Jr.

The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition team has trekked through scrub, swamp and forest from one end of the state to the other. 

Back in 2012 and 2015, three environmentalists hiked, biked and kayaked a thousand miles across Florida - first, from the Everglades north to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia, then from the headwaters of the Everglades, through the Panhandle, to the Alabama state line. Their mission - to publicize the need to connect the state's dwindling natural lands before they're developed forever.

State To Preserve Thousands Of Acres For Wildlife Corridors

Oct 26, 2016

With little comment, Gov. Rick Scott and the state Cabinet agreed Tuesday to spend more than $22 million to preserve three pieces of land covering 14,000 acres, with much of the money coming from the Florida Forever conservation program.

Two of the deals, involving cattle ranches in Polk and Okeechobee counties, cost a combined $6.16 million and will be funded through the Rural & Family Lands Protection Program. That program, backed by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, has become a more-common way in recent years for the Cabinet to protect land from future development.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

The documentary of the second cross-Florida trip of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition, "The Forgotten Coast: Return to Wild Florida,” will have its first broadcast airing Thursday at 8 p.m. on WUSF TV, Channel 16.

Broadcasts on PBS stations around the country are next.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

A group of six 20-somethings - including three from the Tampa Bay area - decided they needed a little exercise while getting a tour of America. So they decided to hop on their bicycles and pedal across the country.

No, this isn't the typical coast-to-coast trip. They started in January in Key West - and are biking to Deadhorse, Alaska.

Nine thousand miles.

The call themselves "Keys to Freeze."

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

Their trip took them nearly a thousand miles, from the headwaters of the Everglades through the Panhandle to the Alabama state line. The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition has finally come to an end, on an sandy barrier island near Pensacola Beach. WUSF traveled with the trio, and we report on their thoughts on the end of the expedition - and what the future might hold.

If their journey of a thousand miles began with one step, it ended with a couple of dozen hugs.

SOUND: Hugs on the beach after landing.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition is in the final week of a nearly 1,000-mile trek from Central Florida across the Panhandle to the Alabama state line. They're hiking and paddling sandy-bottom rivers in the state's wild northwest corner. It's also home to the biggest military bases in Florida. This week, we report on how helicopter bombing runs mix with the peace of the wild.
 

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition is now crossing through the western Panhandle, after they've hiked, biked and kayaked from Central Florida. But to get there, they had to cross some other emblems of Florida - traffic-choked Interstate highways. We go to some of the biggest barriers to the expedition's goal of establishing a continuous wildlife corridor.
 

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

Nearly 1,000 miles in 70 days -- that's how long a trio of wildlife enthusiasts are traversing the state, from Central Florida to the Alabama state line. 

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

We're following the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition as they hike, bike and kayak nearly 1,000 miles in 70 days from Central Florida, through the Panhandle to the Alabama State line. They recently visited one of the rarest ecosystems in the world. The Coastal Dune Lakes are where blackwater lakes mix with the green of the Gulf of Mexico. We went along with them for a paddle in one of these lakes.
 

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

WUSF is following the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition as they bike, hike and kayak from Central Florida through the Panhandle to the Alabama state line. The three conservationists recently kayaked down the Apalachicola River. It's at the heart of a water war pitting three states that has reached all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. We met up with the group and paddled 50 miles downstream, where the river meets the Gulf of Mexico. Their trip started on the coldest day of the year.
 

Carlton Ward Jr.

The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition is biking, hiking and kayaking from Central Florida through the Panhandle to the Alabama state line. The three conservationists are trying to call attention to the need to preserve what they call the corridor's "integrity" --- an unbroken pathway for wildlife to travel. They recently led about 75 enthusiasts on a hike through the wetlands of the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

WUSF is following the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition as they bike, hike and kayak from Central Florida through the Panhandle to the Alabama state line. The three conservationists recently visited the coastal hamlet of Steinhatchee, deep in the Nature Coast. We paddled with them down the Steinhatchee River, fording some falls and getting a lesson in how much preserving the lands can spark Florida's economy.
 

Carlton Ward Jr.

WUSF is following the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition as they bike, hike and kayak from Central Florida through the Panhandle to the Alabama state line. The three conservationists recently paddled down the Withlacoochee River from the Green Swamp to the Gulf Coast. We  tagged along with them for a trip back to primeval Florida - paddling down one of the state's most pristine springs.

 

Robin Sussingham

The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition is crossing the state to bring attention to Florida's wilderness and the need to connect it all. Expedition members Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, Joe Guthrie and Carlton Ward recently met up with several dozen friends and fellow environmentalists in their first "trail mixer" along the Withlacoochee River.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

Members of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition are in the second week of their 10-week, 925-mile trek from Central Florida to the Alabama State line.  Part of their trip goes through the Green Swamp.  It's a mysterious place to most people, but critical to the the water supply for Central Florida.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

Three years ago, four conservationists embarked on a trip to walk and kayak the entire length of Florida. Their mission: to bring attention to the need to protect lands connecting the state's wild areas. Now, The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition is back - and it's taking a different turn.

There's an old Chinese proverb that the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Well, they're not going a thousand miles - only 925 miles, give or take. And their first step was on a pedal. Of a bicycle.

The members of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition are off on an encore version of their epic thousand-mile journey in 2012. Then, they trekked from the tip of the Everglades through the remaining wild spaces of the peninsula, north to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

Back in 2012, four explorers spent 100 days walking and kayaking 1,000 miles up the length of Florida, from the Everglades to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. The mission – to publicize the need to connect the state’s remaining wild areas. This year, the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition is back.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

Back in 2012, four explorers spent 100 days walking and kayaking 1,000 miles up the length of Florida, from the tip of the Everglades to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. The mission – to publicize the need to connect the state’s remaining wild areas.

This year, the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition is back.

Carlton Ward Jr. / Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition

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.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

WUSF News picked up a number of awards, including three first place honors, at the Associated Press Florida Broadcasters Awards Ceremony in Orlando this past weekend.

The WUSF News Team won First Place in the categories of "Continuing Coverage, Large Market Radio" for its coverage of the Republican National Convention and "Election Coverage, Large Market Radio" for its work on the 2012 Elections.

Stephen Glass Photography

Almost 600 people braved the coldest day of the year to watch how four explorers traversed the natural heart of Florida to show a wildlife corridor could still be done in the 21st century.

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