Thursday, May 24, 2018
Perspective

Perspective: Trials on the trail for the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition

Editor's note: The three members of the second Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition are filing weekly dispatches of their 1,000-mile, 10-week journey to highlight the value of keeping an open pathway through the state for wildlife. Here is the story of the fourth week.

 

This week brought us into the heart of Florida's Nature Coast, to Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge and beyond. We rode north on our bikes along mostly empty county roads each morning, listening for logging trucks and people trying to beat the clock to work. Dipping off paved roads, our pace eases and the sunlight flashes through the trees as we pass.

The forests here are varied, their character changing with each change in elevation. In the sand hills, where it's high and dry, we find longleaf pines and turkey oaks, the brown leaves rattling dryly against a breeze. Moments later, coasting downhill, we roll along through swamps, standing water and cypress and tupelo trees, sweet gum, red maple, buttonbush. Nearing an opening the hardwoods gradually give way to palm hammock and cedars at the edge, before finally spreading wide into a grass and sedge marsh, with clear-running tidal creeks inching toward the Gulf of Mexico.

The land here has taken on a wildness that reminds me of John Muir's descriptions in A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf. North of Steinhatchee I'm stunned by the glassy surface of Hagen's Cove, where thousands of shorebirds are strewn across the Gulf plain, dunlins and willets and gulls taking crabs from a shallow grass bed.

Things go according to plan, mostly. Switching from biking to kayaking or hiking brings discussion of who carries what, and the plan for the rest of the day, which often includes meeting with landowners or other hosts. It's at these points, where months of planning and coordination play out in real time, that we lose focus, forget things, fall behind schedule and get into little squabbles — often in this exact order.

One day we biked between Cedar Key and the lower reaches of the Suwannee River. After 20 miles we arrived at the river, where we would meet a paddling guide and launch downriver for the town of Suwannee. We'd sent our kayaks off with the guide the week before to save vehicle space while they weren't in use, making sure to lock our boats to their trailer, but forgetting first to inform the guide, and second, forgetting to give him a key. The outfitter had to backtrack two hours from Suwannee to Fanning Springs and then south to Fowler's Bluff to meet us with the trailer rather than hauling our boats to us by water.

Recognizing our mistake, the guide quietly adjusted and drove with the trailer to meet us. The change didn't register until we were safely away on the wide curves of the lower Suwannee. As we cruised downriver with the warming sun full on our faces the guide, a gregarious man named Russ McCallister, crowed, "Friends, the most dangerous thing you can bring onto any boat is a schedule!"

Follow their progress here in Perspective, at FloridaWildlifeCorridor.org, wusfnews.wusf.usf.edu/term/florida-wildlife-corridor-expedition and on social media: Facebook.com/FloridaWildlifeCorridor; Instagram: @FL_WildCorridor; Twitter: @FL_WildCorridor. Follow Ward's photography at Instagram.com/CarltonWard and Facebook.com/CarltonWardPhotography.

Comments
The real stuff is how Tom Wolfe best used his write stuff

The real stuff is how Tom Wolfe best used his write stuff

Tom Wolfe’s best writing lifted real people into legend: car designers and astronauts and disciples of LSD. With that writing, Wolfe lifted himself into legend as well. The author of 16 books, including such bestsellers as The Right Stuff and ...
Published: 05/18/18
Oh, Florida! Without air conditioning we’re a stinky swamp of sweat. With it, we warm the world

Oh, Florida! Without air conditioning we’re a stinky swamp of sweat. With it, we warm the world

As I write this, some workers are disassembling the 24-year-old air conditioning system in my house. They’re clunking and clanking around, tromping up and down my stairs, so they can replace the old system with a new one that presumably wonR...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
PolitiFact: Is Mike Pence right that religion is gaining new life in U.S.?

PolitiFact: Is Mike Pence right that religion is gaining new life in U.S.?

Speaking at a commencement ceremony at Hillsdale College in Michigan, Vice President Mike Pence told the graduates that religion in the United States is going strong."The percentage of Americans who live out their religion on a weekly basis ó praying...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Column: Why baby steps toward cheaper drugs are the best we can do

Column: Why baby steps toward cheaper drugs are the best we can do

On the stump, Donald Trump the candidate promised big changes in the way America buys prescription drugs ó allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices directly with pharmaceutical manufacturers, and allowing Americans to buy at the prices that Canada ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
PolitiFact: Can Robert Mueller subpoena Donald Trump? A look at the legal precedents

PolitiFact: Can Robert Mueller subpoena Donald Trump? A look at the legal precedents

President Donald Trump has said heíd "love to speak" to special counsel Robert Mueller but that some of his lawyers advise against it.The latest member of Trumpís legal team, Rudy Giuliani, said Trump is under no obligation to comply with a subpoena ...
Published: 05/09/18
Updated: 05/13/18

Column: Moms looking out for daughters who need special medical treatment

Five years ago, shortly after celebrating Motherís Day, my mom watched as her oldest child was wheeled into brain surgery to undergo a procedure to help cope with the symptoms of early Parkinsonís disease. The operation, known as Deep Brain Stimulati...
Published: 05/09/18
Updated: 05/13/18
Column: As the last Rosewood survivor dies, letís remember our duty to address injustice

Column: As the last Rosewood survivor dies, letís remember our duty to address injustice

Mary Hall Daniels was a child of 3 when a white mob destroyed her home and the predominantly African-American community of Rosewood in Levy County in 1923. The last survivor of what came to be known as the Rosewood massacre, Mrs. Daniels died on May ...
Published: 05/08/18
Updated: 05/13/18
Perspective: Let’s build a ‘house’ for Kerouac in St. Pete ... (no not that one)

Perspective: Let’s build a ‘house’ for Kerouac in St. Pete ... (no not that one)

Over my writing desk is a pop-art image of Jack Kerouac. He is so handsome. In purple, orange, and shades of green, it shows him in his prime, a typewriter in the corner and his words about the people he loves, the ones who "burn, burn, burn like fab...
Published: 05/07/18
Updated: 05/13/18
Five interesting facts

Five interesting facts

$171.5 millionis how much drug makers spent lobbying the federal government last year, more than any other industry.Just 36%of Republicans last year thought free trade had been good for the United States, down from 57 percent in 2009, according to th...
Published: 05/07/18
Updated: 05/13/18
A Little Perspective: Interesting news and notes from around the world

A Little Perspective: Interesting news and notes from around the world

Another state has joined the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, bringing electoral reformers closer to their goal of sidestepping the Electoral College to elect presidents by a nationwide popular vote instead. Under the compact, states pledge ...
Published: 05/03/18
Updated: 05/13/18