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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 - Part II - Begins Saturday

Steve Newborn

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.

Three of the members have reunited. Beginning Saturday they’ll meet up at the Creek Ranch in Polk County and begin a 70-day, 925-mile journey once again through the wild heart of the state. This time, they’ll go west, traveling through the Green Swamp, the Big Bend area and crossing Florida’s Panhandle, all the way to the Alabama state line.

The members - conservationist Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, Tampa nature photographer Carlton Ward Jr. and bear biologist Joe Guthrie - met up Thursday night at the Florida Aquarium to hold a bon voyage ceremony. Tampa native Dimmitt is the expedition's organizer.

"The time is now for protecting corridors statewide for the future," she said during the event. "It could not be more important than right now, and luckily, through the passage of Amendment 1, there is funding in place to fund this. So we're going to do our part and get it done."

WUSF plans to check in with them every week of the journey – and their quest to unite a patchwork of natural areas for wildlife to roam – before it’s too late.

They recently were in the WUSF studios for a taping of Florida Matters. You can listen to it here.

And you can revisit our coverage of the original 2012 expedition in our archives.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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