In most cases the natural life of animals remains a secret to Floridians to get a glimpse of them in the wild, Carlton Ward Jr. sets a camera trap and bids farewell to his time.

“I’m looking forward to photographing the animal myself,” Ward says, a conservationist, wildlife photographer and lifelong Floridian.

Sure enough, however, after being given space and equipment, those shy species began to appear.

An important part of the Florida Wildlife Corridor is a manati swimming in the freshwater springs of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refugee.

With the eye of his camera, Ward sees a female panther guiding her cub with an oak-shaded hammock, and a black bear stands up straight against the raw bark of a pine tree. On the same site, he saw alligators shaking with prey in their jaws, great white deer playing in a pond and a pond on the banks of the river sto

“[Florida] He’s as rich and wild as anywhere in the world and these are right here, there’s a kind of privacy in our beaches, ”he said.

The snippets of his animal’s personal life are captivating, but Ward’s photography also serves as a kind of wildlife activity. The animals that follow him are the unknown ambassadors of the Florida Wildlife Corridor, about 18 million acres of land stretching from one end of the state to the other of the skinny peninsula. It is the pathway through which hundreds of native species live, eat and reproduce.

“You can think of it as one of the heart and lungs of Florida’s‘ green infrastructure, ’the state,” Ward said.

The enduring health of the Asilla River depends on the protection of land upstream of the Florida Wildlife Corridor.The enduring health of the Asilla River depends on the protection of land upstream of the Florida Wildlife Corridor.
Ward has been advocating for the corridor for years – a project that received statewide recognition this week when Governor Ron de Santis passed the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act, allocating nearly মিল 400 million to protect millions of acres of state’s valuable green space.

The animal provides a gateway for human beings in the state to take care of the corridor and learn more about how their ways of survival are intertwined, Ward said.

A necessary step to preserve the recognition of the corridor

The Florida Wildlife Corridor covers less than half of Florida, Ward said. It’s not a straight line on the state side – the wildlife corridors on the Florida map consist of all public and private green spaces within the pockets of cities.

“Look at it like a pajama,” he explained. “If you have an orthodoxy in different shades of green, those few patches are government land, state parks, national parks and state forests. Other parts of the rind are citrus groves, wood farms … but they’re an attached green fabric. That green path, that green gold land, the Florida Panther and the Florida Black Bear can roam across the state. ”


The 400 million allocation will go to conservation, where landowners will occupy their land, but conserve natural space and sell development rights to the state or to a nonprofit. Ward said the inclusion of private land would help prevent the division of land and water in the state so that there would be more space for animals to roam freely and the state’s natural resources would not be at risk of overuse or pollution.

A male panther from Florida is triggered by a camera trap at the Babcock Ranch State Preser, part of the Florida Wildlife Corridor in southwestern Florida.A male panther from Florida is triggered by a camera trap at the Babcock Ranch State Preser, part of the Florida Wildlife Corridor in southwestern Florida.

The Florida Wildlife Corridor is a kind of prevention plan to prevent the state from over-improving its remaining green spaces.

Conservationists say it’s too late.

Over the years, nonprofits such as Florida Nature Conservation have expressed concern about protecting these critical green spaces. Statewide conservation efforts began successfully with the introduction of the Florida Forever, a land acquisition program established in the early 2000’s, which resulted in the purchase of 2 million acres of land for protection.
However, the rate of land acquisition has not been consistent with the rate at which Florida has grown since then and climate change has caused a lot of damage (excess heat, rising sea levels and acidification of its waters, among others)), Florida’s natural resource protection window has shrunk rapidly. That being said, Temperins Morgan, executive director of Florida Nature Conservation, said.

“We recognize that our population is growing, but we should try to do it in a very thoughtful and sustainable way,” Morgan said. “We can protect our wildlife, protect our water resources and still provide homes for our growing community. It’s possible.”

And Florida will not stop growing. According to a March 1 report by the state’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research, about 21.5 million states will see more than 300,000 new residents a year by April 2025 – about 845 new residents per day.

Florida has drowned new residents with its mild winters, steady sunshine and beach proximity. But with the arrival of new Floridians, the decline of the state is often less noticeable than that of conservationists who have witnessed it,

“A lot of new people are leaving in Florida who don’t know what we lost,” he said. “They don’t know what Florida looked like, so for them Florida is still the perfect paradise. But … this paradise is very risky and endangered.”

Longleaf pine forests pictured at the Avon Park Air Force Range at Evergrads Headwater are a necessary environment in Florida. Longleaf pine forests pictured at the Avon Park Air Force Range at Evergrads Headwater are a necessary environment in Florida.

Take Everglades Take, one of the largest national parks in the continental United States and Florida wetland crown gems Take It is limited to the southwestern part of most states, but its topsoil begins more than 200 miles away in Orlando. Ward said the growing expansion of the corridor extending between the two regions could cut off animals from the northern side of the state beyond Orlando, effectively isolating the species population, which could harm their food, reproductive and ultimately survival ability.

People also depend on the corridor


The animal is a way to invite Floridians to learn more about the importance of this corridor, Ward said. Protecting the corridor also benefits people. Essential sources of drinking water for millions of residents – preventing development near springs and rivers helps keep that water clean and prevent pollution and overuse.

The corridor, Ward says, “touches every aspect of life in Florida.”

But the success of the corridor requires the participation of partners who have been maintaining the land for decades. Conservation benefits encourage landowners to sell their development rights and retain their land, which can be used to transport animals. Ward says it’s not always easy to convince landowners to participate, as land is increasingly valued as a balloon for Florida’s population.

“With this pressure, most farms and sails are going to be subdivisions in our lifetime,” he said. “Houses are the final crop”

Ward said these facilities could keep the land in its farmland, which benefits pastoralists and farmers (such as the tax benefits they receive through comfort) and the corridor remains intact if the land is kept naturally, which benefits Florida wildlife, Ward said.

Carrie Lights, a sixth-generation runner who gained the comfort of preserving one of its main pages in the 1990s, said he took the step to keep his land in the family (the seventh and eighth generations of Lightsis were also planned to be celebrated).

Rancher and conservationist Carrie Lights stands next to a giant oak tree in 2007. Rancher and conservationist Carrie Lights stands next to a giant oak tree in 2007.

Ijaments has helped Lights, who considers himself a temporary “landlord” in Central Florida, maintaining more than 16,000 acres of land in the state. Fellow cowboys are seen selling their land to real estate developers and regretting the decision. He now works to persuade them behind their comfort as well

“My father always said that people from the north do not come here to see the subdivision,” he said. “They come here to see our beautiful ecosystem.”

Protecting his land from developers is also understandable business. If new real estate surrounds his land, the concrete will prevent it from reaching Florida’s water levels, which supply about 90 percent of the state’s drinking water, he said. And when industrial materials from these developments merge with the run-off, it can contaminate that much-needed water supply.

“I want to be in a sustainable state and I know I have all the natural resources, water, clean air, houses and green space for endangered species,” he said.


The convenience of conservation has paid off in multiple ways: she sees a wild panther, a few Floridians, a woman who lives in her Central Florida neighborhood, and often she gives birth to two children, leaving the panther mother alone in the lights, and instead of shelter she attacks the armadillo The vulture will hunt. A symbolic relationship between them.

The corridor will be protected

Passing the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act is a victory for conservation but not a blanket solution to Florida’s environmental problems. There are still toxic algal flower springs that previously cleaned as crystals, and Florida’s groundwater supply still struggles to recharge when sidewalks prevent rainwater from ever reaching the water. And there will still be private land along the corridor that the owners decided to sell to real estate developers despite the conservationists ’best efforts, Ward said.

“There’s reason to be optimistic,” Morgan said. “But we have to recognize that there is hard work ahead.”


Preventing damage to land and water in Florida – and correcting damage that is still reversible – relies on the support of people like Lightsy. He wants his family, seventh- and eighth-generation Lightsy Reachers, to feel his same connection to nature every day.

“I guess I’m lucky that every morning I get up, if I’m going to run cattle or cut horses, I can see the sunrise,” he said. “I don’t hear cars, I don’t see cars, I don’t see people. I see wildlife.”

A Florida black bear pauses in front of a camera trap at the Hendry Ranch in South Central Florida.A Florida black bear pauses in front of a camera trap at the Hendry Ranch in South Central Florida.

The female panther he sees on his land from time to time often puts two bunches in his mouth. Panter occasionally pauses and looks at the lights, as if to thank him for leaving, he said.

Although the conservation efforts he has supported over the years are now protected by law, Ward is still taking pictures, running a photo-storytelling project called “Path of the Panther” and partnering with people like Lightsy to sell people at conservation facilities. He would never train Floridians – and conservationists in other states – whose work could follow the blueprint of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act – about the value of their land.

“Natural resources are easy to hide in clear view from our cities and suburbs – you never know if Florida has caboos or pallas or Florida has black bears,” he said. “We hope recognition of the Florida Wildlife Corridor will change that.”

This recognition can begin with a spring lazy as well as an arresting image of the prawns or gentle manatee and the muscular panther on its calf. As he reached out to more people with his paintings, he said, they would learn more about their state and the way they relied on natural wonders to survive.


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