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Cycling 4 Conservation through Madison County

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Meeting Marc Nutter and John Adams brings forth a plethora of adjectives…interesting, inspiring and informative, to name just a few, and it also comes accompanied with a smidgen of envy. The two men were headed west on Hwy. 90, stopped on the side of the road beside what appeared to be a dog, obviously deceased. Turning around to check out the situation was a gamble that paid off. The unfortunate roadkill was not a dog, but a river otter, and not a common site, according to Nutter. The two cyclists had stopped to not only check out the animal but to record its death on, a site where people all around the world can make personal observations on plant and animal species, and even upload pictures. “Who would want to see that?” is what many might say, but looking at the site you will find out many people are indeed interested, and posting. The roadkill project was started by a group that call themselves the “vulture culture” to show how vehicle strikes have a significant impact on wildlife. Nutter and Adams’ record keeping of roadkill is only a small part of why the men began their long bicycle trek on Sept. 14 of last year from Bangor, Maine. Nutter and Adams said they dwelled on a cycling trip for two years when working together in New Mexico as part of an Environmental Education program, which eventually led to the creation of Cycling for Conservation. Their mission is “to create meaningful, lasting connections between people and places that result in responsible  environmental stewardship. Through public talks, volunteer opportunities, and citizen science, Cycling for Conservation will engage youth and adults in the act of conservation so they too can feel a direct connection to the wild spaces around them.” Spreading the message of conservation, educating and involving the community in its importance is a passion for both men which can be evidenced in a quote on their website, “We believe the disconnection between people and the natural world is one of the root causes of the environmental degradation that we see so prevalent in our society. By engaging youth and adults in environmental stewardship and citizen science, we believe that people will be more likely to protect the last remaining wild places in this world, even if their wild place is a small local park. Everyone has their own definition of ‘wild’: all definitions of what is ‘wild’ are real and important. That reality calls us to protect and enhance every parcel of land, large or small, for the organisms that call it home and for the people who seek out these places as a refuge from the pace of today’s life.” Nutter and Adams, as Cycling 4 Conservation have, and will continue to, link a series of 12 conservation service projects and citizen science (you and me) actions around the perimeter of the U.S. over the course of 12 months. The two men ride three weeks (roughly 1,000 miles) between projects and then spend a week talking with people and organizing volunteers for a site-specific conservation service project in that area. Volunteers for one of their conservation projects could be hiking clubs, Boy or Girl Scout Troops, private or public landowners or concerned citizens. They plan a predetermined public worksite where they will meet members of the community to discover the area and then initiate a project. Projects could include: new trail construction or existing trail maintenance, installation of erosion control measures, water or land clean up, habitat restoration, invasive species removal or litter removal. While in Florida, the two projects orchestrated by the men were to compile a species inventory into a field guide for Olustee Battlefield and perform trail maintenance at Florida Caverns State Park, clearing the corridor. Both men said they have enjoyed every minute of their trip and the people they’ve met and experiences they’ve had has shown them “there are good people everywhere.” The men often rely on the generosity and kindness of strangers to feed or shelter them, allowing new friendships to develop during their travels and according to them, traveling by bicycle has allowed them to intimately experience people and places they couldn’t otherwise. One of the topics that always seem to surface during conversations with people they meet centers around people wishing to do a similar trip, to which their reply is always the same, “You can, all you need is time.” They also said they encourage anyone who has questions to shoot them an email, and they would be happy to help anyone to get started on their very own bicycle tour. For more information, and some great pictures of their journeys, go to Nutter and Adams’ website at where you can learn more about them, their routes, projects and the people they meet along with some great links to all things conservation.

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