Florida Wildlife Corridor team to speak about ‘The Forgotten Coast’

BY SUE ERWIN     

Lindsay Cross, executive director of the Florida Wildlife Corridor, will be speaking at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 28 in the Boca Grande Community Center auditorium.

Cross will be presenting a program about Florida’s natural resources with Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, president of the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

The program will open with a screening of the documentary, “The Forgotten Coast: Return to Wild Florida,” and will be followed by a discussion where panelists Lindsay Cross, Carlton Ward Jr., Jim Cooper, Debi Osborne and moderator Mallory Lykes Dimmitt will comment on the film and speak to the need to conserve land and water. They’ll be discussing current issues and what is being done to help.

The discussion will focus on organizations working to help conserve natural resources on a statewide or regional scale.

“This will help to establish how the organizations work together, with each one filling a specific niche or adding value to the work or outreach of others,” Cross said. “We’ll also discuss relative ways in which conservation can be achieved through partnerships and building relationships with many stakeholders.”

Cross said she hopes attending guests will leave feeling inspired to get outside and experience the beauty and wonder of wild Florida, and also be motivated to be advocates for its protection.

“We still have the opportunity to protect beautiful, wild places in our state, but if we don’t act quickly, strategically and consistently, places that we love may be lost forever,” she said. “It’s important that citizens continue to voice their support for funding to protect lands and waters at the local, state and federal levels.”

She added that while the voters of Florida overwhelmingly supported the Water and Land Conservation Initiative in 2014, adequate funding has not been appropriated for actual land and water conservation.

“It will require citizens to keep our legislators accountable, so that future generations can enjoy these places and the high quality of life that we experience in Florida today.”

The panel will discuss places like the Everglades, majestic longleaf pine forests and crystal clear springs.

“The wildlife that relies on these habitats, like the Florida black bear and the manatee, are also so spectacular. I hope that the audience connects with them on an emotional level, because that is what it will take for their habitats to be protected.”

The Florida Wildlife Corridor was started 10 years ago under the name “Legacy Institute for Nature and Culture.” LINC was originally founded to use compelling fine art and photography to reinforce a conservation message, particularly about the importance of protecting and connecting lands and waters in Florida. The Florida Wildlife Corridor expeditions (1,000-mile expeditions, completed in 2012 and 2015) were originally a program under LINC. The organization rebranded under the name Florida Wildlife Corridor following the first expedition.

“The Florida Wildlife Corridor organization champions the public and partner support needed to permanently connect, protect and restore the Florida Wildlife Corridor – a statewide network of lands and waters that supports wildlife and people,” Cross said.

The organization is now focused on continuing to advocate for the permanent protection and connection of the Corridor, especially those privately owned areas most critical for linking and connecting to publicly owned lands.

“We do this through multimedia storytelling (video, photography, articles, and social media content) that engages the public and partners in how they can and why they should be protected,” Cross said.

Boca Grande Community Center Program Manager Debbie Frank said Lindsay and Mallory are leaders in the field of land conservation, and they work closely with Carlton Ward, Jr. (National Geographic photographer, Florida Wildlife Corridor board member and expedition team member). “It’s an honor to have all three join us in Boca Grande for this engaging presentation,” Frank said.

For tickets, contact the Friends of Boca Grande Community Center at 964-0827.

For more information on the organization, visit floridawildlifecorridor.org.