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Imagine a contiguous chain of properties – public and private – that together form a corridor reaching from the Everglades in South Florida to the Okeefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in South Georgia. Now imagine this land to be forever protected for wildlife to be able to move freely along the entire corridor. That was the vision of photojournalist Carlton Ward Jr who began acting on it several years ago. After making connections and promoting the idea (at least for consideration) to many private landholders and ranchers, the corridor began to move from dream to reality.
Today, Carlton -- along with conservationist Mallory Dimmitt, bear biologist, Joe Guthrie, and videographer, Elam Stoltzfus -- is two-thirds of the way through an ambitious expedition – walking, paddling, and bicycling 1000 miles in 100 days, -- following what will hopefully become the Florida Forever Wildlife Corridor. Learn more at the link http://www.floridawildlifecorridor.org/.
I am one of a cadre of photographers participating in the project by documenting parts of the journey and photographing key properties along the way. My assigned property is the Kissimmee St Johns River Connector a bit north of Lake Okeechobee where I spent 3 days shooting earlier this month. Here are a few images from my mini-expedition (including photos above).
Later that week, using coordinates forwarded to me by Carlton, I drove further north in search of the expedition team. My phone gps led me onto a working cattle ranch west of Melbourne, along a maze of private dirt roads, and through four gates before it declared that I had arrived. Hmmm… I was still in a cow pasture. I switched to compass and chose additional (and deteriorating) roads that moved me closer to Lake Winder where the group was supposed to be camping that night. Passing through one last primitive barbed-wire gate and down a narrow lane bordering a wetland, I was thrilled (astonished really) to see kayaks, tents, and trekkers under a big live oak near the lake right in front of me. Here are some photos I made while visiting with the expedition that afternoon and the next morning.