In our retirement, we have turned to learn more about the natural world. We are now certified Florida Master Naturalists and our group project “A Paddler’s Guide to the Flowering Plants of Womack Creek” www.womackcreek.wordpress.com continues to be maintained by us and updated through our frequent paddles in the creek. These updates can be read by clicking on “logbook” on the top banner. The gallery of plants and, now, all critters — essentially all living things (except one alligator snapping turtle carcass) are updated as we are able to get a reasonable good photo of the subject.
Since beginning this blog site we have paddled and tent camped 50 states and all ten of Canada’s provinces. We now know, with certainty, that we in north Florida are gifted with incredible wild lands within a short driving or bicycling distance from where we all live. These legacy lands reflect the foresight of those who created the Florida Forever program and the land purchase programs to restore and conserve our natural resources. It also reflects by referendum the millions of Floridians who voted to keep this program of acquisition, restoration and management in 2014.
Our time spent paddling in non-inhabited areas and in primarily primitive tent camping (no amenities, including water or toilet facilities) have convinced us that wilderness is as necessary to our species as is civilization. More children and young families should have places to actively explore the natural world and the wilderness to find his/her place in this Universe. Tent camping affords this exposure to nature at night — an experience which day use or RV or trailer camping does not fully do. Just as important, are more easily available wilderness settings (free from the artifacts and sounds of civilization) for seniors and those home bound by birth or by accident. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Council is now beginning a program to emphasize how back yards can be transformed into natural areas which can attract wildlife, insects, birds and other native living creatures (yes, snakes).
Without wilderness we deny our antecedents. It has only been a generation or two, in some areas such as Tate’s Hell, not even that, that we have not relied upon the forests and streams to provide us with our sustenance. Without wilderness we cannot appreciate the full chain of being — that little larva under the spatterdock leaf feeds the crappie which provides us and other animals with a good meal. Each has its place: spatterdock, the adult insect, crappie and water quality and temperature suitable for these to thrive. Each one of these, to produce a meal.
We hope we can leave the few wilderness areas we have to thrive and produce a variety of growing things to give hope, discovery, challenge, solace and connection to those who come after us.
Please join us to share your stories, information, photos about Tate’s Hell and Blackwater River State Forests and please join us to make sure that we leave these forests intact and thriving for all who follow to enjoy. Send us your contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marylyn and Ed Feaver and friends
Thanks to Doug Alderson for the heading photo of the Dwarf Cypress forest in Tate’s Hell taken from the Ralph Kendrick Boardwalk. Ralph Kendrick, a long time forester, was father of Cheryl Sanders, chairwoman of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners.