Hey everyone! I hope this finds you well. Tonight I am thoroughly enjoying staying in the Holton Creek camp, run by Florida State Parks. I'm staying in a beautiful screened cabin with showers and electricity and complimentary popcorn- and all for free! The past few days I've followed along the Suwannee river, as the Florida trail darts along river bluffs, plunges into ravines, and offers incredibly scenic views of this beautiful river, as the light green of blooming trees stands out against a clear blue sky.
everyone from two Quebecers who drove 24 hours to here to canoe the entire Suwanee to a man walking from Key West to the Appalachian trail to Mr. Steve Williams, who walked to Tallahassee to support saving the Florida panther. Last weekend I was also fortunate to share this experience by family and friends. These experiences remind me how important wild spaces are to connecting to each other, to ourselves, and to creation. And hearing out of staters tell me how amazed they are by the beauty of wild Florida is testament to the fact that wild Florida is a world-class natural wonder, that we're incredibly privileged we are to have it in our backyards.
Write a Postcard from Wild Florida!
On that note, I hope you can join my postcard campaign to bring the voices of Floridians like you to the halls of the capitol! At postcard.com/impact/speak-up-for-wild-florida, you can write a postcard for free that I will hand deliver to your representative as I walk intk Tallahassee. Let them know why protecting Wild Florida matters to you, and remind them to listen to voters wishes future and fund the Florida Forever program. It only takes two minutes and it can make a huge impact. If you can, share this campaign with family, friends and co-workers and challenge them to make a postcard from Florida - my goal is 300, or one for every mile I've walked! After you create the postcard, you can choose the action to share your action on Facebook to spread the movement. And don't forget to check out our Facebook page at Facebook. Com/WalkForWildFlorida or website at WalkForWildFlorida.org for more!
Thank you so much for your support and excited to be a part of this movement with you all!
Best wishes and happy trails,
PS: Here's some key facts if you need any for the Postcard, but don't feel pressured to make it anything fancy!
-In 2014, 3 in 4 Floridians supported constitutional amendment 1 to create the land and water conservation fund, a now billion dollar a year specifically for the "acquisition and restoration" of wild lands
-Public mandate to restore funding to programs like Florida Forever, a popular and bipartisan program which identifies and purchases crucial wild areas from wildlife corrodors to watersheds to recreation areas. But it's seen it's budget cut by 97% from what was once a $300 million a year program that was widely admired across the US.
-The legislature used much of this money to replace existing maintenance spending and salaries, and overall $50 million less went to conservation. Only 2% of it went to Florida Forever, our signature land acquisition program.
-Florida's wild areas are in danger- In a state that will have 15 million new residents by 2060, we're predicted to lose an area of wild and rural land the size of Vermont to development.
-Our legislature should use Amendment 1 money for its intended purpose and put at least $150 million a year (recommended minimum by Florida conservation voters) to Florida Forever.
1. With my family camping on the Suwannee! I'm so lucky to have them and so thankful for all their support.
2. Early mornings at Steven Foster State Park.
3. The Quebec crew on their way to the Gulf.
4. Spring flowers on the Suwannee.
If you would like to unsusbrcibe to these updates, don't hesitate to email me with "unsubscribe" in the subject line. Check out WalkForWildFlorida.org for more!
Tonight I'm with my family, cooking sausages on our campsite overlooking the bluffs of the Suwannee river. It's been quite a day after hiking through the cold rain with friends from Osceola National Forest. On Friday I met with them to hike and camp out on the western edge of the great longleaf pine savannahs of Osceola. I've been in the "land of the pines" since entering the timberlands north of Lake Butler My sister Miriam joined me for two days as we trekked through massive tracts of timber owned by Plum Creek, talked with civil war reenactors about conservation and Florida Forever at Olustee Battlefield, and walked barefoot though flooded trails.
When Miriam and I entered Osceola National Forest, it seemed a glimpse of the Florida that early European explorers first encountered, a wild place with expanses of longleaf pine forests. I remembered the writings of William Bartram as he entered the Southeast in the 1700s, writing "We find ourselves on the entrance of... a forest of the great long-leaved pine, the earth covered with grass, interspersed with an infinite variety of herbaceous plants, and embellished with extensive savannas, always green, sparkling with ponds of water."
But since then, 97% of longleaf forests have been lost to logging, development and fire suppression. It's why Osceola is so special, and its encouraging that this part of North Florida and Southern Georgia is in many ways a conservation success story, a wide area of protected land from Osceola to the great Okeefenookee, connected by the Pinhook swamp. It's a stronghold for threatened species like the Florida black bear.
I've followed in the footsteps of the team from the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition. They did their own, far more wide-reaching journey, the "Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition," a photographer and two conservationists documenting the wild heart of Florida by hiking, canoeing, and biking 1,000 miles over 100 days from the Everglades to the Okeefeenokee. They shared photos and narratives from these places to promote protecting and connecting wild places from the Everglades to the Okeefenokee to create a corridor where a wild Florida and species like the black bear and panther could thrive alongside a human Florida.
There's over 1.15 million acres of proposed Florida Forever lands that would protect many of the missing links of this corridor that are under urgent threat from development. We have a real opportunity to see that this vision come to reality. I truly encourage you to check out http://floridawildlifecorridor.org and see the incredible photography and vision they have created, and if you're interested follow their newsletter (click the mail button on the top part of the webpage).
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. I hope you can be a part of the movement by sharing this campaign and taking the"challenge for Wild Florida," a simple way to get started protecting the place we love - see http://www.walkforwildflorida.org/get-involved.html
And if you'd like to join me on the trail, please do let me know! Text (352)339-8744.
And for more regular update don't forget our Facebook page at Facebook.com/WalkForWildFlorida
1. Osceola NF with friends Hunter, Sebastian, and Juan
2. Entering Osceola NF with sister Miriam
3. On the Florida trail.
4. Camping out in Plum Creeks land with Miriam
5. Epic longhorn cattle west of Lake Butler
Thanks so much, and happy trails!
My name is Oscar Psychas, and I thought you might be interested in getting updated as I walk from my home in Gainesville to our state capitol to call our state legislature to protect the wild Florida we love.
As I write to you I am laying in my tent, trying not to jump at every scurrying creature and enjoying finally being clean after bathing in the beloved Santa Fe River. The past two days of tramping across this special corner of our earth have reminded me of how lucky we all are to live here, a place that is ever fascinating, entrancing, and that still has a beating wild heart we can still hear if we listen. And talking with people from local rural communities has reminded me of how much we all care and are all grounded in this special place, and that we all want to see it protected for our children.
But I didn't do this walk solely for the purpose of tramping and getting lost in rural North Florida, nor for the admittedly surprising pleasure of drinking sweet tea mixed with tea-colored river water ( can any drink be more southern?). I am walking every last mile to Tallahassee because I see a huge gap in how Floridians care about this place and what our leaders are doing to protect it.
Perhaps the epitome of this disconnect was after an overwhelming 3 in 4 Floridians voted in 2014 for a constitutional amendment to create a $750 million annual fund for "the acquisition and restoration" of wild land. This seemed like a huge mandate to properly fund programs like Florida Forever, which identifies and purchases our state's most unique and critical wild places. But our legislature decided that this fund could be used to replace existing maintenance spending for salaries and pipes, and only 2% went to Florida Forever, our signature land acquisition program. Not a cent of money more has gone to conservation.
I, for one, take it personally- that they have become so focused on their short term political self interest that they cast aside everything we say and care about.
Our legislators know that this is essentially indefensible, but they're hoping we'll be too distracted to notice. This is a great strategy if you're Oscar and you're snacking on what your parents are serving for dinner tonight, but it's not a way to run a government.
It's up to every Floridian to speak up, as voters, as stewards of this land, and as patriots, and say that we care about protecting our shared home for future generations. That we will not let politics be put over our planet, our communities, and our way of life. I'm walking to Tallahassee to speak on behalf of every Floridian today and of tomorrow, and request that our legislature make wild Florida and its people a priority and fund the Florida Forever program and other conservation programs. I hope every Floridian can be a part of this movement of the people, and I hope you can think about how you can play a part in what our legacy will be.
If you're wondering where to start, you can go to walkforwildflorida.org and take the "challenge for Wild Florida" . I'd love to get you involved in this walk - check out our Facebook page at Facebook.com/WalkForWildFlorida for more regular updates, or join our group trail weekend this Saturday and Sunday way down on the Suwannee River... (Email/message me (3523398744) if you're interested- rides available. I'm so excited to start this journey with you all!
Here's some photos by the wonderful John Moran of the launch yesterday- i am so thankful to family, friends, mentors and all those who have supported me. It was great to have everyone writing their own postcards to our legislators for wild Florida, and we were honored that County Commissioner Ken Cornell joined to support the cause! Thanks so much for reading this and stay tuned!
Hugs and happy trails,
Welcome to the blog for my walk for wild Florida!
I hope this blog and newsletter will give everyone a chance to become an advocate for Wild Florida. I hope you can find ways to take action for wild Florida- from calling and writing to your legislators to joining me along the walk.
I am really excited to say that the Gofundme campaign has reached its goal! I have been truly blown away by the generosity and support from everyone that made this possible. I feel privileged to know so many wonderful people and I hope to keep you all involved.
A special thank you to donors Edward La Combe, David Moynahan, David Pais, Scott Camil, Claudia Romero, Aleksis Psychas, Craig Turner, John Shawcross , Lesley Gamble, John Moran, Dominique Erney, Paul and Andre "X," Calvin Martin, Leo Villalon, Nancy Maas, Leona Zahlan, Chris Johns, and 3 anonymous donors- and to all the family and friends who have supported me along the way. Any extra donations will go towards expanding the campaign so that more people can create their own letters to legislators. Thanks so much and hugs to everyone.