2023 Ocala to Osceola

Ocala to Osceola

Operation Connect, Protect and Restore

Exploring the healing power of nature

The O2O Expedition featured three veterans from three branches of military who undertook a 57-mile exploration of the Florida Wildlife Corridor from the Ocala to the Osceola National Forests. The core of the Expedition involved a 4-day journey which included paddling a section of the Ocklawaha River as well as biking/hiking segments through the Florida National Scenic Trail. The Expedition highlights the health and wellness opportunities of the Corridor as well as the importance of working lands, state lands and military installations to statewide connectivity. ⁠

O2O Wildlife Corridor is a 100 mile long, 1.6-million-acre landscape of public and private lands that connect the Ocala and Osceola National Forests.

Why Veterans?

The veteran trekkers help raise awareness about the importance of natural spaces and highlight the deep human need for a connection with outdoor spaces to support physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Their understanding of the terrain and perspectives on the importance of the connection between our national forests and military training camps make them important partners for the O2O Expedition and beyond. Veterans explored the O2O region with experienced trekkers who are familiar with Florida’s Wildlife Corridor.

Ocala to Osceola Corridor

The Ocala to Osceola Wildlife Corridor (O2O) is a 100 mile long, 1.6-million acre, landscape of public and private lands that connect the Ocala and Osceola National Forests. The O2O includes priority lands for the Florida Ecological Greenways Network (FEGN), and is a significant part of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. If the system of natural landscapes and connector lands is protected, the O2O will continue to provide habitat for Florida black bears and imperiled species like the red-cockaded woodpecker, indigo snake and gopher tortoise.  In addition, there are opportunities for protecting iconic Florida ecosystems, including longleaf pine forests, sandhills, and scrub in the O2O.

Thank you to those who helped make this Expedition possible!



Steve and Merrilee Nellis

Tom and Judy Maish

Heidi and Brian Millar

The Spurlino Foundation

Gear Sponsors

Special Thanks to

Sports Ability Alliance

Camp Blanding

City of Palatka

St Johns River Water Management District

  • Rice Creek Conservation Area

US Forest Service

  • Ocala National Forest
  • Osceola National Forest

Florida Forest Service

  • Etoniah Creek State Forest

Kraig McLane

Wetlands Preserve – Ben and Louann Williams

Florida State Parks

  • Ravine Gardens State Park
  • Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park
  • Silver Springs State Park
  • Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway

Florida Department of Environmental Protection

  • Office of Greenways and Trails

Sonja Pedersen Photography