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Week 8: Exploring Florida's rare coastal dunes in the Panhandle

During the past week, the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition team was joined by members of the public and media for a "trail mixer" -- the Coastal Dune Lakes Paddle. Coastal dune lakes are a rare phenomenon found in only a few places in the world. The lakes are both fresh and salt water -- at different times -- which sets up unusual ecoystems. Reporter Steve Newborn from WUSF joined the team and wrote this:

What happens is that when it rains a lot, the water breaks through the sand dunes and flows into the Gulf, letting all that salt water flow back in. This totally changes the marine ecology of the lake for days at a time, until the sand silts up again, and becomes black water again in the lake.

After the dune lakes, the team headed west - northwest toward Eglin Air Force Base. Below are a few entries from the Expedition's Facebook page:

Day 55 (Thursday, March 5)
The Expedition entered Eglin Air Force Base, Florida yesterday for a few days of backpacking. It rained of course, making the woods even more beautiful. Thanks to the Florida Trail Association for building boardwalks through the swamps!

Several milestones reached today: we had our longest day yet of backpacking (17.6 miles) and we passed the highest point on the Florida Trail (<300'). The Expedition comes to an end in 2 short weeks!!

Day 51 (Sunday, March 1):
Mallory Dimmitt races through pines in Point Washington State Forest. Positioned between Eden Garden, Grayton Beach and Topsail Hill State Parks, the Point Washington State Forest helps connect a conservation corridor beside the beaches between Panama City and Destin. The Expedition route today connected these coastal conservation lands to the larger Florida Wildlife Corridor north of Choctawhatchee Bay.

This mission of the Florida Wildlife Corridor is to protect a functional ecological corridor throughout Florida for the health of people, wildlife and watersheds. Learn more at FloridaWildlifeCorridor.org

In the past week, Mallory Lykes Dimmitt posted a blog entry on the National Geographic Voices website. The focus of her entry was their trip through the Apalachicola River and delta. Her full post is here. One excerpt:

You have a lot of time to think when you’re paddling thirty miles in one day, and I passed some of it by pondering all of the many factors that contribute to the species richness of this region. The Apalachicola basin is one of the nation’s six biodiversity hotspots, it’s fertile floodplains and waters supporting supporting hundreds of species of plants, birds, mammals, and more reptile and amphibian species than anywhere else in the U.S. and Canada. Most of these animals are hidden from view in the cold weather, but I have visited the point of origin of this river system in the heat and humidity that cloaks the green ridges of the north Georgia mountains in late August. I conjured up images of the spring at the top of the watershed, just a few hundred feet down the from Appalachian Trail at Chattahoochee Gap. I imagined the water’s journey as it erodes the southern end of the ancient mountains and carries their life sustaining sediments to flood these forests, where it then picks up and transport additional nutrients to ultimately feed the Bay and the Gulf beyond.


You're invited: Come and meet the team at this upcoming Trail Mixer. Make your reservation ASAP - spots are limited!

Trail Mixer #9 - "Black Bear Affair" at E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center

March 14, 2015, 9:30am - March 14, 2015, 2:00pm
Join the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition team and members from the Florida Park Service for a 3-mile paddle!
Meeting Time: 9:30 AM
Meeting Location: Blackwater River State Park (7720 Deaton Bridge Road, Holt, FL 32564)
Activity End Time: 1:00 PM

Detailed Schedule of Events:

  • 9:30 a.m.: Paddlers gather at Blackwater River State Park (Load canoes and kayaks onto shuttle)
  • 10:00 a.m.: Travel to Johnson’s Float launch
  • 10:15 a.m.: All paddlers on water, 3-mile paddle
  • 11:30 a.m.: Arrive at Deaton’s Bridge / Blackwater River State Park
  • 12:00 p.m.: Reception begins / light snacks and beverages
  • 12:30 p.m.: Introduction to Carlton Ward Jr.
  • 12:40 p.m.: Introduction to Donald Forgione, Director of the Florida Park Service
  • 12:45 p.m.: Introduction to Secretary Jonathan Steverson, Secretary, DEP
  • 1:00 p.m.: End of event

Space is limited to 50 guests for the river paddle, but 150 guests can be accommodated for the reception. If you'd like to particapte in the paddle, please RSVP here: www.eventbrite.com/e/trail-mixer-9-blackwater-river-paddle-tickets-15179339814 AND by contacting the Blackwater Canoe Rental at 850-623-0235. Click here to visit their website: www.blackwatercanoe.com **In order to participate, you acknowledge that you're acting as your own that private trip and are responsible for your own safety and welfare.

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