Tuesday, February 20, 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
PolitiFact: The facts behind Donald Trumpís exaggerations on immigration, MS-13 and crime

PolitiFact: The facts behind Donald Trumpís exaggerations on immigration, MS-13 and crime

President Donald Trump has linked illegal immigration to the violence of the MS-13 gang, claiming "open borders" have caused the deaths of many people in the United States.During his State of the Union speech, Trump highlighted the 2016 killings of t...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Perspective: Diplomacy, not fire and fury

Perspective: Diplomacy, not fire and fury

President Donald Trump infamously used the expression "fire and fury" to threaten North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Then, at the United Nations, he vowed to "totally destroy North Korea." These words would be considered criminal if uttered by ordina...
Published: 02/12/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Perspective: Trust the polls, not the pundits

Perspective: Trust the polls, not the pundits

Itís not easy being a pollster these days. When I started in 1984, two out of three people we reached on the then-universal landline said they were happy to take a poll. "Shh! Someone is calling me from New York and asking me important questions. I w...
Published: 02/12/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Perspective: The future of globalism

Perspective: The future of globalism

Oh my, were we naive. The Cold War ended with a sort of whimper and we looked forward to making the world safe for democracy and perhaps even for a more compassionate capitalism. We understood that increasingly extreme inequities in wealth are diffic...
Published: 02/12/18
Updated: 02/16/18

Column: The Trump administration is starting to pay attention to Africa

President Donald Trumpís first policy statement about Africa took place at the United Nations last September when he hosted a lunch for African heads of state. He correctly identified two major internal conflicts in South Sudan and the Democratic Rep...
Published: 02/12/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Perspective: A national security strategy of coming to terms with competition

Perspective: A national security strategy of coming to terms with competition

The Trump administration, in a series of required national security documents, has signaled a dramatic departure from the Bush and Obama administrationsí visions of the U.S. role in the international order.The National Security Strategy (NSS) and the...
Published: 02/12/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Perspective: We need to prepare for instability in North Korea

Perspective: We need to prepare for instability in North Korea

North Korea has been a top foreign policy priority since President Donald Trump settled into the Oval Office. The president has repeatedly expressed his intention to "solve" the North Korean crisis, emphasizing that all policy options ó including mil...
Published: 02/12/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Perspective: St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs will bring the world home to you

Perspective: St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs will bring the world home to you

Editorís note: In advance of this weekís sixth annual St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs, several of the experts who will participate have written essays for todayís Perspective about key areas of concern, among them North Korea, national sec...
Published: 02/12/18
Updated: 02/16/18

Perspective: Why do poor Americans eat so unhealthfully? Because junk food is the only indulgence they can afford

By Priya Fielding-SinghThe verdict is in: Food deserts donít drive nutritional disparities in the United States the way we thought. Over the past decade, study after study has shown that differences in access to healthful food canít fully explain why...
Published: 02/08/18
Updated: 02/09/18
Perspective: Sending a Tesla into space is the greatest symbol of American grandeur

Perspective: Sending a Tesla into space is the greatest symbol of American grandeur

Henry AllenWhen Elon Muskís SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket thundered heavenward, my dream was fulfilled.Back when this was a real country ó which is to say before Vietnam, when America was the grand and grandiose land of surf íní turf, of station wagons ...
Published: 02/08/18
Updated: 02/09/18