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The Green Life: Tracking TrekEast: Week 1

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February 16, 2011

Tracking TrekEast: Week 1

TrekEastlaunchJohn 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, in turn, will log weekly updates of Davis's progress as he completes his 4,500-mile, human-powered trek.

Week 1, the launch, involved Davis pointing his blue kayak into the calm waters of Key Largo, Florida; he was all smiles. Drifting from a shore where he'd spoken to state-park officials, conservation volunteers, and reporters, Davis set off on his 10-month commitment. Kayaking and snorkeling through John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, he saw snappers, barracudas, and small fish in the waters among mangrove roots, and got a visit from a young manatee.

Though he didn't spot a crocodile, Davis was happy to hear from Steve Kleck, manager of Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge, that much of the creature's habitat in southern Florida has been protected. Key Largo woodrats, on the other hand, haven't fared as well. The endangered native rodents are nearing extinction due to development, roads, and feral cats. Davis hopes to work with locals to find an answer.

Switching gears, Davis got out of the water and onto his bike, cycling from Key Largo to Everglades National Park. There, friends and colleagues joined him for the next leg of the journey. One of the questions that came up before Davis set out was, "Will you be able to reach people?" The explorer is confident. "I think most of us, deep down, really care about wildlife and wild places, and are willing to do something to help protect them," he said.

He hopes to show how species depend on each other, and how they depend on big, wild places. But he has one more big hope for the trip: "I would be absolutely thrilled if I saw a sign, at least, of a panther," he said. "It's not likely, because they are exceedingly rare and very elusive, but I would give a lot to see the track of a panther."

--Molly Oleson / photo courtesy Wildlands Network

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