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The Green Life: Tracking TrekEast: Week 4

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March 16, 2011

Tracking TrekEast: Week 4

TrekEastWeek4John Davis's TrekEast adventure from Florida's Everglades to Canada's Gaspe Peninsula has as its goal to raise awareness of the East's remaining wild places, and to inspire people to help protect them. We at the Green Life are blogging weekly updates of Davis's progress as he completes his 4,500-mile, human-powered trek.

Davis headed north from Kissimmee Prairie Preserve to the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge at the start of TrekEast's fourth week. The refuge, part of a 980,000-acre stretch known as the Nature Coast and home to 19 endangered species, provided Davis with 31,000 acres of saltwater bays, estuaries, and marshes to explore.

He spent a few days there, and was joined by Wildlands Network's executive director, Margo McKnight, for some swamp-slogging. Davis noted an isolated, at-risk bear population within the refuge: "Unless there are habitat connections with this refuge to other wild places, the black bears here will eventually [die] out," he told a Citrus County news source.

 Davis and McKnight emerged from the swamps to appear on the Daytime TV Show, speaking about the significance of TrekEast, and the 500 miles already behind him. "It has been a wonderful journey so far," he said. "I've thoroughly enjoyed it." When asked what the scariest part of the adventure has been, Davis replied simply, "The cars."

While hiking through Florida's prairies and cycling past sunning alligators, Davis realized that one of the best things the state can do is to get voluntary agreements from owners of large pieces of land located between parks and refuges to get conservation easements. As a top cattle producer,and home to some of America's biggest ranches, Florida could maintain and restore wildlife habitat connectivity — and prevent development — this way.

In addition to stressing the importance of a wildlife bridge over the Caloosahatchee River for panthers to successfully colonize habitats, Davis noted the need for wildfire, as many Florida ecosystems depend on it to maintain health and species diversity.

Up next: A 300-mile trail that'll take Davis through one of northern Florida's wildlife corridors.

--Molly Oleson / photo courtesy Wildlands Network

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