Carlton Ward Jr.
We caught up with photographer Ward, who is more than halfway toward a goal that many would consider impossible. Ward, along with bear biologist Joe Guthrie, filmmaker Elam Stoltzfus and conservationist Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, is on a 1,000-mile trek through Florida's interior, from South Florida's Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park north to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southern Georgia. During a 100-day trip that started in January, they aim to walk, paddle and ride horses through Florida's heartland to encourage state and federal officials to create the Florida Wildlife Corridor, an official pathway connecting the state's natural lands and waters. When we talked to Ward, an eighth-generation Floridian, he was about to make camp on the St. Johns River and had spent the day on a 15-foot sit-on-top kayak. Included in his gear were two cameras, a solar charger, a laptop computer, a sleeping bag, a fishing rod and a water filter. To get more information or to support the expedition, visit floridawildlifecorridor.org.
Instead of asking you what's on your nightstand, the better question might be, so, Carlton, what books are in your backpack?
The Fragmented Forest by Larry Harris, a well-known University of Florida professor who is the father of wildlife corridor thinking. I consider him an important guide when it comes to my learning the foundations of connecting lands and waters for conservation. I also brought Pinhook by Janisse Ray. The reason I brought it was that I'm familiar with the Everglades and areas to the south in Florida, but have less personal expedition experience in the wilderness of northern Florida. It's about the Pinhook Swamp, which actually is a wildlife corridor between Georgia and Florida
During your hours paddling, do you ever find yourself thinking of books you've read about Florida that you'd like to recommend?
There are so many. David Maehr's The Florida Panther, Cecile H. Matschat's Suwannee River: Strange Green Land and The Travels of William Bartram.
Was there a particular book that inspired you when you were growing up?
A Land Remembered by Patrick Smith. It definitely helped fuel me.
Piper Castillo, Times staff writer, can be reached at [email protected]