Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation

June 2024 Newsletter

Ethan Coyle

June has been a month of progress and celebration for the Florida Wildlife Corridor and the Corridor Foundation. I am enthusiastic to share some of the latest developments with you in this newsletter.

To begin, another 12,128 acres were approved for conservation by the Governor and his Cabinet earlier this month, which is a testament to the conservation community’s collective commitment to protecting wild Florida through Florida Forever and Rural and Family Lands Protection Program and to the importance of securing Sentinel Lands.

Coinciding with this news, we opened the Connect & Protect exhibit by Wildpath at Wild Space Gallery. We were touched by the support of over 100 attendees who joined us to celebrate the photography representing the first 40 properties protected since the signing of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act.

A particularly exciting development is the completion of the I-4 wildlife crossing. This achievement allows wildlife to safely move back and forth under the interstate for the first time since 1970, marking a major milestone in efforts to facilitate safe passage for Florida wildlife.

Looking ahead, we are inviting Lee, Collier, Glades, and Hendry Counties residents to apply to be trekkers during our seventh expedition this fall, from Strand to Slough. If you are a resident of one of these counties, I hope you will consider applying or sharing with someone you know who would be a good fit.

Additionally, we have an inspiring story from the field shared by our dedicated photography intern, Ethan Coyle, whose work continues to highlight the importance of our mission.

We are also humbled to receive another 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. This recognition reflects our ongoing commitment to transparency and responsible stewardship.

Finally, our team recently enjoyed a visit to Selby Gardens and the Sarasota Art Museum for a special ceremony and farewell, which reinforced our commitment to “Get Outside” and the arts.

Read all about it in the details of this exciting month below.

A win for wildlife!

Ethan Coyle

This month, the first I-4 wildlife crossing was unveiled in Polk County! The new wildlife crossing will help Florida panthers, Florida black bears and other Florida natives roam freely north or south through the Green Swamp. There are already more than 1000 miles of major roads within the Florida Wildlife Corridor, wildlife crossings like these can help species and humans alike stay safe.

Congratulations to the Florida Department of Transportation on the monumental completion of the project that has been decades in the making! We loved celebrating with the conservation partners in attendance including fStop Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, Wildpath, Central Florida Regional Planning Council, and FWC.

Corridor Conservation Update

Angeline Meeks / Live Wildly Foundation

The State of Florida has taken another meaningful step to protect lands within the Florida Wildlife Corridor by approving the permanent conservation of more than 12,000 acres across four properties. This decision, made by the Florida Governor and his Cabinet, is a $40.8 million investment that safeguards vital ecosystems, working lands, and wildlife habitats within the Corridor.

Thank you to the leadership of the landowners, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Conservation Group, Keith Fountain Law, and other partners for coming together to make these opportunities possible.

Deer Creek Ranch by Lauren Yoho / Wildpath

Strand to Slough Expedition: Call for Trekkers!

Do you know an adventurous Floridian from Collier, Glades, Hendry or Lee Counties that may want to apply to be a trekker in our next Expedition?

If you know someone with an authentic and deep connection to the natural and cultural heritage of southwest Florida, this may be an opportunity for them!

This fall, we are set to embark on a new Expedition through critical connections in southwest Florida. From November 15-22, the “Strand to Slough” Expedition will explore the southwestern edge of the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

The Expedition will involve a multi-day journey of hiking, biking, and paddling through private and public lands vital to conserving Corridor connectivity. Family heritage, community connection, and spiritual significance are the types of mission ties we seek in Expedition Trekkers.

The Expedition will be filmed and photographed to document the journey and develop a short film about the experience. Our previous Expeditions have resulted in award-winning films that amplify our mission to connect, protect, and restore the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

Want to learn more? You can find full Trekker requirements and application instructions at the link below. Restrictions may apply.

Payments for Ecosystem Services

Ethan Coyle

Spanning the length of the state—from Alabama to the Everglades—the Florida Wildlife Corridor envisions a continuous, 18-million-acre tract of land, aiming to keep nearly 50% of the state undeveloped. In the face of advancing development, conserving nearly 50% of Florida will require every tool in the toolbox. A fantastic article by Joshua Daskin and Jen Guyton explains how payments for ecosystem services programs can be a powerful conservation tool.

Ethan Coyle

We had a blast at the opening night of Connect & Protect this month! If you couldn’t make it, the exhibit is open to the public through August 23rd, and the artwork is now available for purchase. For more information, reach out to info@floridawildlifecorridor.org.

Connect & Protect takes viewers on a journey from the Panhandle to the Everglades, soaring over snaking rivers and verdant pastures, hiking through old-growth forests, spying on prowling panthers and burrowing tortoises, and visiting working lands with their cattle and cowboys.

This exhibit celebrates the first 40 Corridor landscapes approved for protection since the signing of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act, with photographs by noted conservation photographers. Also included is a satellite map of Florida that marks the Corridor and identifies property locations around the state.

Photographers featured include: Carlton Ward Jr, Lauren Yoho, George McKenzie Jr, Katie Bryden, Max Kelly, Dean Saunders, and FDEP personnel.

This traveling exhibit was made possible by the Jacarlene Foundation and is now showing at Wild Space thanks to the generous support of the Ruth and JO Stone Foundation.

Ethan Coyle

June Story from the Field

Ethan Coyle

The thin, critical connection points in the Polk County section of the Florida Wildlife Corridor are vital for maintaining habitat connectivity.

In our latest photo essay, Polk County native and photography intern Ethan Coyle shares his personal journey through one of the most fragile parts of the Corridor. Check the link below for his stunning visuals and firsthand account.

We’ve been evaluated by Charity Navigator, the world’s largest and most trusted nonprofit evaluator, and earned a Four-Star Rating! This is the highest possible rating on Charity Navigator.

This achievement couldn’t have happened without you and your support. Thank you for being part of our family as supporters, funders, and volunteers. Your trust and support helps us make a difference for wild Florida.

Thank you for being an integral part of our mission!

This month, our team enjoyed a wonderful outing to Selby Botanical Gardens, where we celebrated their impressive “Flip the Switch” event. This milestone marks the activation of 2,158 solar arrays, part of phase one in their ambitious master plan to become the first net-positive energy botanical garden complex in the world. It’s inspiring to see such a significant step towards sustainability!

We also took this opportunity to visit the Sarasota Art Museum and wish our Gallery Operations Manager, Liz Nail, a heartfelt farewell as she embarks on the exciting journey of completing her graduate program capstone project abroad. We’ll miss Liz’s dedication and enthusiasm but are excited to see her succeed in her new endeavors.

As Liz packs up for her next adventure, we’re now hiring for the Gallery Operations Manager position. If you or someone you know is interested, please check out the job details at the link below.

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