May 2024 Newsletter

Ethan Coyle

May has been a bustling month for wild Florida and the Corridor Foundation! As the season warms up, many bird species, such as warblers, buntings, and shorebirds migrate northward, so it’s a great time for birdwatching. Our friends at Disney Conservation invited us to release this season’s tagged Purple Martins and in this month’s newsletter, you’ll learn how you too can get involved.

As National Trails Day approaches, we’re excited for the Florida Trail Association to host the O2O: Path to Connection screening this weekend. We’ll be announcing our virtual release date next month and, in the meantime, we’ve started planning our 2024 expedition through critical connections in Southwest Florida.

Our Corridor Compatible Solar collaboration team did a field visit hosted by Florida Power & Light to see first-hand the environmental considerations and actions they take to meet solar demand.

The Wild Space Gallery exhibit Nature of Healing wrapped up this past weekend. Next, you’ll have the chance to see the first 40 properties approved for conservation since the signing of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act during the Connect & Protect exhibit opening on June 8.

We’ve included many more updates this month from the field, events, and partner offerings that I hope inspire you to get outside.

Happy exploring,

Mallory Dimmitt
Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation

Purple Martin Palooza

This month, our team got an up-close look at conservation research in action at Disney Conservation’s Purple Martin Palooza!

These migratory marvels travel over 3000 miles from the rainforests of Brazil to nest across North America – including here in Florida at Walt Disney World Resort!

Throughout much of their range, purple martins rely entirely on human created nesting structures. There are 500 gourd shaped bird houses on Disney property that serve as valuable nesting space for purple martins. Disney Conservation provides health checks and conducts migratory research on these unique birds when they nest on property each spring.

You can help scientists track the spread of returning martins away from their hatch site. If you see a banded purple martin, report the sighting using this form! The green-banded purple martins are hatchlings from Walt Disney World Resort.

Huge thank you to Disney Conservation’s Director of Conservation and Corridor Foundation Board Director, Dr. Zak Gezon, and Manager of Conservation Programs, Jason Fischer, for hosting us and answering our never-ending questions!

Corridor Compatible Solar

Florida is called the Sunshine State for good reason! ☀️

With an average of 230 days of sun a year, the solar energy industry has a large presence across Florida. The growth of the solar industry has tremendous potential to reduce our carbon footprint and meet Florida’s energy needs in a more sustainable manner.  It is important to consider how the volume of land that will be devoted to solar projects over the next decade will impact the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

The Corridor Foundation hosts a “Corridor Solar Collaboration Team” with participants from an array of public and private sectors and solar industry leaders, including Florida Power and Light (FPL). The Solar Collaboration Team was invited to tour solar energy facilities owned and operated by FPL in Clay and Hendry Counties to see first-hand the environmental considerations and action steps the company has taken to meet their solar energy demands while working to minimize impacts to local wildlife. We’re proud to collaborate with industry partners like FPL in planning for a brighter future for people, wildlife and wild lands in Florida.

Exploring the Critical Connections of Southwest Florida

Florida Wildlife Corridor Expeditions and the resulting films and storytelling have inspired action to protect the Florida Wildlife Corridor since 2012. Trekkers have undertaken six journeys through the Corridor, showing the beauty of Wild Florida and potential threats to Corridor protection and connectivity. This fall we will continue the legacy of Florida Wildlife Corridor Expeditions in Southwest Florida, exploring urgent conservation needs within a critical area of the Corridor.

The 2024 Expedition will feature trekkers with deep connections to the lands and waterways of Southwest Florida. The trekkers will explore the Corridor starting at Picayune Strand State Forest and travel north toward the Caloosahatchee River. We’ll traverse opportunity areas vital to keeping the southwestern edge of the Corridor connected to the rest of the statewide Corridor geography. Stay tuned for updates coming soon!

Watch our past expedition films!

Opportunity for South/Central Florida Landowners

Reserve your spot!

Wild Space Gallery exhibit: Connect & Protect opening June 8th!

Carlton Ward Jr. / Wildpath

Celebrate more than 200,000 acres of recent conservation action with the opening of Connect & Protect at Wild Space Gallery on Saturday, June 8 from 5 – 9pm! This exhibit features stunning imagery from the first 40 properties approved for protection since the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act passed in 2021.

The Wildpath team of storytellers, explorers, and conservationists lead us on an extraordinary photographic journey of discovery through the Florida Wildlife Corridor in the exhibition Connect & Protect. Wildpath’s own Lauren Yoho, an accomplished conservation photographer behind many of the images, will share some of her adventures capturing these works for the exhibit. After opening remarks, enjoy the rest of 2nd Saturday ArtWalk at the Factory St. Pete until 9pm!

RSVP for the exhibit opening! | June 8 5-9PM

Carlton Ward Jr. / Wildpath

Connect & Protect guides viewers from the Panhandle to the Everglades, soaring over snaking rivers and verdant pastures, hiking in old growth forests, spying on the prowling panther and the burrowing tortoise, visiting working lands and their cattle and cowboys.

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

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.

During Mental Health Awareness Month, a mother’s grief inspires art

Genevieve Lykes Dimmitt’s “Only Begotten Son” and David Price’s “Arcadian Angel”

Wild Space Gallery’s most recent exhibit, The Nature of Healing, ran through Mental Health Awareness Month. The exhibit featured the work of Genevieve Lykes Dimmitt whose art charts a process of emotional and intellectual healing following a devastating loss. If you missed this riveting exhibit in person, learn about the powerful inspiration behind her work in the recent Tampa Bay Times article linked below.

During Mental Health Awareness Month, a mother’s grief inspires art in St. Pete | Tampa Bay Times

May Story from the Feild

Ethan Coyle

Nestled on the Florida-Georgia border, the Okefenokee Swamp covers 350,000 acres of vital wetland habitats. While most of this expansive swamp lies in Georgia, it serves as a crucial natural link to the Florida Wildlife Corridor.⁠

Join our photography intern, Ethan Coyle, as he shares his journey exploring the Okefenokee in the latest photo essay on our blog.

North Florida’s Great Wetland: The Okefenokee Swamp | Ethan Coyle

This month we had a wonderful staff celebration and were left feeling inspired by our small but mighty team who work tirelessly to help keep Florida wild.

Our team is growing! We are thrilled to welcome Andrew Bell as our new Director of Operations and Finance. Previously with the Humane Society of Pinellas, Andrew’s extensive private sector and non-profit experience and passion for excellence will be a tremendous asset to our team.

Stay tuned for new position openings in next month’s newsletter!