On April 4, 20222 show Anni and Kenny interviewed author and photographer Doug Alderson. Doug prefers a kayak to a desk, hugs trees and friends, and loves observing alligators, manatees and other wildlife. Most of his 15 published books focus on the dynamic and quirky nature of his home state of Florida. They include America’s Alligator, Wild Florida Waters, Waters Less Traveled, New Dawn for the Kissimmee River, Encounters with Florida’s Endangered Wildlife and A New Guide to Old Florida Attractions, which the Florida Writers Association placed in the top five of published books for 2017. He has won five first place Royal Palm Literary awards for nonfiction books and several other state and national writing and photography awards. Additionally, his articles and photographs of him have been featured in numerous magazines.
Doug received the inaugural Environmental Service Award by Paddle Florida in 2015 “for conspicuous commitment, unflagging dedication and love of Florida’s natural environment.” For several years, he coordinated Florida’s designated paddling trail system and helped to establish the 1,515-mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail. He is currently the Outreach and Advocacy Director for Apalachicola Riverkeeper.
Doug and his wife Cyndi have been living in an intentional neighborhood south of Tallahassee for about 35 years. They raised their daughter there and she now lives next door and teaches at a local elementary school. They built a small passive solar house using lots of recycled wood, windows and doors, established gardens and planted fruit trees, and put in walking trails connecting to our neighbors. All of their neighborhood friends have gardens who freely share knowledge, seeds and vegetables. The footprint of Doug’s home is small and even though they don’t have solar energy due to tree cover, their electric bill is usually under $100 a month. Doug drive a Prius to reduce transportation impacts and, to the surprise of many, can fit two kayaks on top for fun trips on Florida’s rivers and coast!
Hiking the Appalachian Trail right out of high school at age 18 Doug realized that developing a strong relationship to the earth is the key to protecting it. He became strongly involved with the Sierra Club and served as co-chairman of the local group and public lands chairman of the state chapter for several years. He was humbled when the state chapter awarded him their 1979 Environmental Award for efforts to stop clearcut timber practices on the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Because of their efforts, the refuge is now a great example of how to manage and restore native upland pinewoods. He also lobbied in the Florida Legislature throughout the 1980s, representing the Sierra Club and other environmental groups and was part of a team that successfully passed programs to purchase endangered lands and curb pollution.
Around 1980, Doug was adopted as a nephew by a Muscogee spiritual leader named Bear Heart in Oklahoma and a couple of years later, he became closely involved with a group of Muscogee Creek Indian descendants and their traditional ceremonial grounds in north Florida. In 1984, Doug was moved to coordinate the Walk for the Earth, a group walk from California to Washington DC to promote environmental sanity, peace and Native American rights, keying on the intersect of all three. It was a moving experience for everyone involved and the core group of walkers had stayed in touch. The following year, they walked across Europe. Some of these activities and experiences are described in his book The Vision Keepers: Walking for Native Americans and the Earth, published by Quest Books.
Whether you are viewing a river from the land or, especially, a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard, let Florida’s Rivers be your guide to celebrating the state’s treasures.