You need a lot of equipment to paddle 4,000 miles from the northern tip of Minnesota to Key West, but more than any boat, paddle, or sleeping bag, you need water. From the maze of lakes in the Boundary Waters to the blue waves of the Gulf of Mexico, from the freezing inland sea of Lake Superior to the muddy water of the Mississippi, from rivers that turn to ice in winter to the uninhabited mangrove swamps of the Everglades, water is the key to this trip.
If you like this adventure, if you like the idea that something like this is possible, thank and support the organizations who work every day to protect our lakes, rivers, and oceans. Donate, get out and volunteer, learn about the issues, and spread the word. It is up to each of us to take ownership and work to protect the fantastic places we know and love. Not tomorrow, not next week, today.
Here are some fantastic groups who help protect different parts of the route from the Northwest Angle in Minnesota to Key West, Florida and back.
Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness:
Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness leads the effort to protect and restore the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from threats such as mining, logging, development, haze, noise, fire suppression, and loss of native species. The organization was formed in 1976 to protect this vulnerable area and two years later shepherded legislation through Congress that brought full protection to the Boundary Waters.
Today, the Minnesota-based organization is a sentry against further harm in the BWCAW and the Quetico-Superior Ecosystem. Whether it is proposals for risky new mines next door to the 1,075,500 acre wilderness, proposals to impair the wilderness’ character with massive, lighted cell phone towers, or plans to harvest trees in a sensitive habitat, Friends’ ensures that a “voice of wilderness” is always heard.
American Rivers is the leading organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams. Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Since 1973, American Rivers has fought to preserve these connections, helping protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual release of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®.
Through their work in five key program areas – Rivers and Global Warming, River Restoration, River Protection, Clean Water, and Water Supply – American Rivers is working to protect our remaining natural heritage, undo the damage of the past, and create a healthy future for our rivers and future generations.
Gulf Restoration Network:
Gulf Restoration Network’s mission is to unite and empower people to protect and restore the resources of the Gulf Region for future generations so that the Gulf of Mexico will continue to be a natural, economic, and recreational resource that is central to the culture and heritage of five states and three nations. GRN works to provide technical support and mentoring to grassroots groups, to connect members to developments on national and regional issues of importance to their work, and to coordinate member activities across the region.
GRN pursues campaigns on priority issues affecting the entire Gulf region, including water quality, wetlands, sustainable fisheries, smart energy, hurricane rebuilding, and species-at-risk. GRN also engages individuals through information sharing, publications and an e-mail action alert network. In this way, GRN plays a pivotal role in providing their members and others with the technical information, Gulf-wide networking opportunities, and communication that will empower them to successfully address the environmental threats that the Gulf faces.
Florida Wildlife Federation:
The Florida Wildlife Federation is a private, statewide, non-profit citizens’ conservation education organization composed of thousands of concerned Floridians and other citizens from all walks of life who have a common interest in preserving, managing, and improving Florida’s fish, wildlife, soil, water, and plant life. As the State Affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation, FWF has been improving Florida’s wildlife since 1937.
The welfare of fish and wildlife is inseparable from other living things, including humans. FWF is a leader in promoting, through education and political action, the conservation, restoration, sound management, and wise and ethical use of Florida’s natural resources, so that present and future generations may live, work, and pursue traditional outdoor activities in an outstanding natural environment.
The Hudson River is one of the most complex rivers in the country. It floods with tide, it has dams and locks, it has nine million people living around it. Fifty years ago, people joked that it was an open sewer. Polluters had essentially stolen the river from the public by using it as their dumping ground.
Riverkeeper’s efforts patrolling the water and taking polluters on in courtrooms has been instrumental in restoring the river. They’ve held polluters accountable and forced them to spend hundreds of millions of dollars cleaning up the Hudson. They’ve worked to get better laws passed to protect the water and educate people about the Hudson River. Their efforts have inspired other “waterkeepers” on more than 180 waterways across the planet.