Now is the Time to Save Millions of Acres of ‘Old’ Florida
Preserving Wild Florida
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Welcome to Florida. We have it all: world-class golf, world-class beaches, world-class industry, world-class resorts and world-class entertainment. We also have world-class traffic headaches, world-class development issues and world-class debate over how to preserve and protect the state’s valuable waterways and landscapes.
Fortunately, more than 9 million acres of Florida land is today held in conservation by state, local and federal governments. But there’s a lot more land out there to protect, according to members of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition.
Carlton Ward Jr.
This Tampa-area team of scientists and artists has literally paddled, hiked and biked its way across the length and breadth of the Sunshine State in two separate expeditions in an effort to show there is still land waiting to be saved from overdevelopment.
Eastern box turtle
CARLTON WARD JR.
The name of this expedition is taken from the parent organization, the Florida Wildlife Corridor, which also describes the ultimate goal: to create a vast chain of connected wilderness areas for everyone — people and wildlife — to enjoy. For animal life in particular, these corridors are important to the long-term survival of many species. These undeveloped greenspaces provide homes for 42 federally listed endangered species and 176 state-listed endangered species. There are an additional 56 species listed by the state as threatened and 29 on the species-of-special-concern list. The endangered species include the whooping crane, Florida panther, West Indian manatee, green turtle, leatherback turtle, hawksbill turtle and gulf sturgeon.
The Florida Wildlife Corridor’s vision is not a new one; rather, its goal is to make more people aware of the necessity of preserving wild areas.
Trekker Joe Guthrie builds a fire on a sandbar during a night of camping on the Apalachicola River (top). A North American river otter (bottom).
CARLTON WARD JR.
“The Florida Wildlife Corridor is a statewide vision to keep Florida wild,” said award-winning conservation photographer and author Carlton Ward Jr. “As we go along, it becomes more and more clear that the need and value of this … is it’s showcasing a Florida that’s hiding in plain sight to so many people.”