April 2024 Newsletter

Ethan Coyle

While the legislative session for this year is behind us, I had the opportunity to represent the Corridor Foundation when joining the Governor in two important bill signing events this month highlighting the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

I’m thrilled to see additional funding for Florida’s environment coming from the Seminole Gaming Compact revenues that will bolster state conservation programs funding with an additional $100 million a year for Corridor conservation. The Governor and the legislature have continued to show support since the signing of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act with funding to accelerate the pace of conservation.

It may seem with the recent large Cabinet approvals and historic funding that we must be close to a safeguarded Corridor, but there are still nearly 8 million acres that need protection, of which 500,000 could be lost to development by 2030.

Thankfully, conservationists, landowners, and counties are answering the urgent call to identify what we can do now before critical connections are lost. We hosted a Mind the Gaps workshop in Polk County where nearly 20 partner groups came together alongside county planners and community advocates to solve the missing pieces.

I’m so proud of all the mission-aligned partners working to protect the Corridor. This month Archbold Biological Station released a first-of-its-kind study about how the Corridor eases the worst impacts of climate change and 1000 Friends of Florida has been doing an excellent job in their webinar series about Planning to Protect the Corridor– don’t miss the fourth and final happening this Wednesday, May 1. And get inspired by two short films: All Florida features the Snail Kite and Wildpath’s Katie Bryden gives us a glimpse of the Grasshopper Sparrow.

April was also special for me to see my mom, Vevie Lykes Dimmitt, open our latest Wild Space Gallery exhibit, The Nature of Healing, alongside sculptor and Bok Tower Gardens president David Price. To showcase the healing benefits of nature, we also welcomed author Florence Williams who took local Girl Scouts on a meditative forest bathing experience and treated Wild Space Gallery guests with a reading and Q&A discussion.

With these collaborative efforts, we’re able to showcase Florida as a model for the entire nation. I couldn’t be more proud to be a Floridian, for the enduring conservation legacy we’re safeguarding for future generations.

If you’re in the St. Pete area, reserve your spot for a captivating artists talk at Wild Space Gallery on May 11th. You can also enjoy our photography intern, Ethan Coyle’s, story from the field or flip through our 2023 Impact Report.

Thank you for your continued support and for being part of this incredible journey!

Mallory


Mallory Dimmitt
CEO
Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation

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New Legislation to Protect the Corridor

Left to right: Mallory L. Dimmitt (Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation), Kristina Serbesoff-King (The Nature Conservancy), and Caitlin Newcamp (Audubon Florida)

This month, Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 1638 which allocates $535 million for environmental resource management.

The bill will:

  • Direct revenue from the Seminole gaming compact toward environmental conservation efforts
    • $100 million for the Florida Wildlife Corridor
    • $100 million for the Resilient Florida Grant Program
    • $100 million for the management of uplands and the removal of invasive species
  • Allow the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to make agreements with landowners for environmental services in the Florida Wildlife Corridor 
  • Establish the Local Trail Management Grant Program
  • Direct $150 million to repairs and upgrades to the Central and South Florida water management systems and studying Lake Okeechobee.

Our CEO, Mallory Dimmitt was in attendance at this historic moment for conservation in Florida. The addition of these funds from the Compact, combined with consistent high-level funding for the state’s land acquisition programs, will serve as a lasting testament to our state leaders’ unwavering dedication to protecting wild Florida and managing our outstanding natural resources.

Watch Here: Governor DeSantis Signs Legislation to Protect Florida’s Natural Resources

Florida Wildlife Corridor Eases Worst Impacts of Climate Change

Alex Freeze

A new, groundbreaking study from Archbold Biological Station, Florida Atlantic University and numerous partners, offers a holistic vision of the ways climate change and population growth will impact Florida’s communities and natural resources, and how the Corridor, if fully conserved, can help shape a more resilient future for our state.

Some of the report’s findings include:

  • The Corridor provides billions of dollars of flood hazard protection, a vital service as precipitation increases under climate change. A large part of this benefit comes from keeping floodplains undeveloped. About 10 million acres of Florida’s floodplains are located within the Florida Wildlife Corridor.
  • Incentivizing clustered, mixed-use development that takes the Corridor into account will preserve ecosystem services and minimize habitat fragmentation while reducing infrastructure costs.
  • The Corridor incentivizes keeping working lands in production, preserving their climate benefits while protecting farmers and billions of dollars of agricultural revenue.
  • Some wildlife species will need to move north to escape higher heat and saltwater intrusion into South Florida’s Everglades. But habitat fragmentation blocks these migratory escape routes. Designating linkages within the Corridor as areas of critical state concern would help ensure that the larger Corridor remains a viable means of wildlife movement.
FULL REPORT: Archbold Biological Station | Climate and Wildlife Corridors
FAU | Florida Wildlife Corridor Eases Worst Impact of Climate Change

Polk County “Mind the Gaps” Workshop 

To solve a puzzle like connecting the 18-million-acre Florida Wildlife Corridor, a lot of people have to stand up and say, “how can I help?”

So many incredible voices were in the room for our first ever “Mind the Gaps” workshop in Polk County (the fastest growing county in the country). We are tremendously grateful for the expertise and collaborative spirit of those working together to solve the gaps in the Florida Wildlife Corridor and help keep Florida wild!

Thank you to the collaborators that helped planned and develop this facilitated workshop including Polk County Parks and Natural Resources, Florida Department of Transportation District 1, Center for Landscape Conservation Planning – UF, Central Florida Regional Planning Council, The Nature Conservancy, Archbold Biological Station, and Balmoral Group.

This month, Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 1565 to continue the Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative and celebrated the record investments Florida has recently made to connect and protect the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

Our CEO, Mallory Dimmitt, was honored to speak at the signing, highlighting the tremendous progress being made to conserve wild Florida. We extend our gratitude to the state leaders who have prioritized conservation, restoration, land management, and resiliency. Meaningful, consistent funding supports communities throughout the state and hundreds of partner organizations in their fight for the wild Florida we cherish.

However, the work isn’t over—continuing this momentum is crucial to permanently protecting the 18-million-acre Florida Wildlife Corridor. With nearly 8 million acres of the Corridor still needing protection, these funds and initiatives are helping to accelerate the pace of Corridor Conservation.

FOX 4 | GOOD CONSERVATORS: Gov. DeSantis signs water, wildlife protection bills

Earth Day Trail Maintenace with Subaru “Love the Earth” Volunteers

Ethan Coyle

This Earth Day, the Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation team volunteered at the beautiful Barbara B Pedersen Wildlife Preserve performing trail maintenance and invasive species removal alongside Subaru “Love the Earth” volunteers from Subaru South Tampa, Subaru Lakeland, Subaru North Orlando.

We’re so grateful to Green Horizon Land Trust for organizing the volunteer opportunity, lending their expertise for the day, and for their work to permanently protect this landscape. The Barbara B Pedersen Wildlife Preserve, located in Lake Wales, is a remnant of the ancient long leaf pine forest that once existed along the entire length of the Lake Wales Ridge.

Ethan Coyle

What happens when ranchers, hunters, and researchers all come together around an endangered species?

From Travis Thompson and All Florida – a new short film on the endangered Snail Kite and how cattle ranching, coupled with land management for waterfowl, is helping their populations to thrive on this working cattle ranch in the Corridor.

The Florida Grasshopper Sparrow: Connecting a Sentinel Landscape 

An endangered bird thriving at a bombing range? A new 5-minute short film by Katie Bryden / Wildpath chronicles the efforts to bring back one of the most endangered birds in the United States.

Explore our 2023 Impact!

We’re thrilled to present our 2023 Impact Report. Dive in to discover the most meaningful moments from the year that propelled our mission to protect the Florida Wildlife Corridor.⁠ ⁠

Every connection—be it with communities, partners, or nature—adds to a collective force for positive change. Explore how we prioritized collaboration, emphasized building relationships, and found unity in diversity across organizations and sectors.⁠ ⁠

Explore our 2023 Impact!

New Wild Space Gallery exhibit: The Nature of Healing through May 25th! 

Ethan Coyle

This month we unveiled a brand-new exhibit at Wild Space Gallery, The Nature of Healing. You can experience the exhibit for yourself through May 25th!

The Nature of Healing presents the work of two Florida artists who have found lifelong inspiration in our natural environment and its abundant resources. In a dynamic pairing of abstract painting and classically-infused sculpture, Genevieve Lykes Dimmitt and David Price explore the power of art to engage with nature, and find within it sources of wonder and solace. Learn more here.

This exhibition is in partnership with Love IV Lawrence / Community Foundation Tampa Bay. Made possible, in part, thanks to the generous support of The Ruth and J O Stone Foundation.

Explore the profound connection between art and nature in a captivating artists talk with mixed-media artist Genevieve Lykes Dimmitt and sculptor David Price. Join them as they delve into their collaborative exhibit, The Nature of Healingon Saturday, May 11 from 3:30 – 4:30 pm at Wild Space Gallery. After the artists talk, explore the rest of 2nd Saturday ArtWalk at the Factory St Pete from 5:00 – 9:00 PM.

Join us May 11!

Wild Florida Author Series: Florence Williams 

Ethan Coyle

This month we hosted an evening of captivating storytelling and compelling research from best-selling author Florence Williams. Florence’s work focuses on the interplay between the environment, health and science.

Sonja Pedersen

Florence also led an incredible guided forest bathing experience at Boyd Hill for the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida!

As a certified forest-bathing guide, Florence has a wealth of experience leading groups through immersive nature experiences, witnessing the transformation, connection, and healing that ensue. Her book, “The Nature Fix,” delves into why nature makes us happier, healthier, and more creative.

Forest bathing, one of the techniques explored in “The Nature Fix,” involves immersing oneself in nature, especially forests, to enhance mental, emotional, and physical well-being. It’s a practice that encourages participants to slow down and mindfully engage with the natural environment, utilizing all five senses.

April Story from the Field

Ethan Coyle

This month, photography intern Ethan Coyle, journeyed through the Nature Coast (also known as the Adventure Coast), from Rainbow Springs to the Chazz –there are so many incredible places to explore.

Aside from being an incredible place to experience wild Florida, this area is home to one of the Corridor’s most critical connections, a bottleneck area only a 1/2 mile wide in Dunnellon that connects the Ocala National Forest to the rest of the Nature Coast. If we lose critical connections like this one, wildlife will lose the ability to move freely.

Wonders of the Nature Coast | Ethan Coyle