Conservation made fun

Published: Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 09:27 AM.

Justin Riney was searching for a unique way to raise awareness of the natural beauty found in Florida’s waterways.

He found it in a man who ventured to Florida some 500 years ago.

Riney was in Port St. Joe for a few days this week as part of his yearlong quest to paddleboard the state’s waters, spending the first six months navigating the entire perimeter of the state’s coastline before embarking on six months of exploration of the state’s major interior waterways.

Riney’s travels, called Expedition Florida 500, coincide with the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s arrival somewhere on Florida’s beaches.

“We are focused on the conservation aspect and anything we can do to raise that profile,” Riney said. “The whole goal of the project is conservation based.

“We want to drive home the point how beautiful we have it in Florida and how precious the natural environment in Florida is.”

Riney embarked on his journey from Pensacola on New Year’s Day. This past Monday, as he arrived in Port St. Joe for three days, he was on Day 21 of a journey he expects to span 365 days.

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