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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.

Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition Members Paddle Everglades Tributary

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.

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.

Credit Wikipedia commons
Fisheating Creek from above

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)







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