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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Film premier: Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition Documentary

The Wildlife Corridor
By Ed Murawski, FNPS Heartland Chapter

Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition: Everglades to Okefenokee Documentary Film 

On Sunday March 3, 2013, the Heartland Chapter attended the Tampa premiere of the documentary film, Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition: Everglades to Okefenokee, produced by Elam Stoltzfus. This film documented the 100 day, 1,000 mile trek across the state of Florida from the southern edge of the Everglades to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge at the Florida-Georgia border. The journey was documented by photographer Carlton Ward Jr., filmmaker Elam Stoltzfus, conservationist Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, and bear biologist Joe Guthrie. The expedition team hiked, paddled, and rode horseback along their journey.

The premier took place at the Cotanchobee Park next to the Tampa Bay History Center.  Over 500 attendees braved the very cold and windy conditions to be the first to see this wonderful film.  I have to say, we just about froze solid, but it was well worth it.  The event also had several exhibit booths on display prior to the showing including a display of Carlton Ward Jr.’s photographs from the journey, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission with information on recreational hunting and fishing, an animal exhibit from the Lowry Park Zoo, and exhibits on bears, panthers, and other Florida wildlife. 

The Expedition

This expedition was the centerpiece of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Initiative. The Initiative’s goal is to bring awareness of the need to establish a corridor from the Everglades to Georgia for the greater health of our watersheds, wildlife, and our citizens. The Initiative’s expedition documented the fragmented landscapes and watersheds throughout Florida, but also pointed out that while fragmented, a corridor does still have the potential to exist. The Initiative goals also include sustainability initiatives for the cultural heritage of our working farms and ranches that are critical to completing this corridor.

For me, the most compelling moment in the film was when the expedition team crossed Interstate 4 near the State Road 44 interchange. Interstate 4 does not have any truly established wildlife corridors and is in need of appropriate hydrological connections. These considerations are being reviewed and hopefully this expedition will drive this forward.

Some of the wildlife displays at the premier event.
The Initiative intends to bring awareness to the need to create, restore, and protect a wildlife corridor across our state through a public outreach program. You may have been aware of this Initiative and expedition through their social media campaign including their website, Facebook page, and/or Twitter account. I first heard of the expedition through a news story on National Public Radio.

Anna, Ed's daughter, had a chance to look wildlife in the eye.

A bear scull is compelling for sure.

Sponsors

Many organizations sponsored and endorsed the expedition, including the Florida Native Plant Society state organization and many of the local chapters. Please do not let the expedition teams work fall to the roadside; get out there and continue to support their work and share this information with your friends and family and most of all get out and enjoy the beautiful natural landscapes our great state has to offer.

You might be fortunate to see some of our wonderful wildlife, but I assure you that you will also find some of the most beautiful plants found nowhere else on Earth. WUSF Public Television, Channel 16 will premiere the film on March 28th, which will be followed by showings on other public television stations around Florida and around the country (dates to be announced).

It was a chilly evening in Tampa.

For More Information Visit: 

Home page: http://www.floridawildlifecorridor.org/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FloridaWildlifeCorridor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FL_WildCorridor
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/FLWildlifeCorridor
Other: http://linc.us/category/projects/corridor/


Thanks to Ed Murawski of the Heartland FNPS chapter for his report of this event. Does your chapter have activities that could be reported here, too? Send the document and photo files to fnps.online@gmail.com
Ginny Stibolt

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