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My fellow Easterners,

Since the Eastern Wildway Network’s inception in 2015, one of our major goals has been to develop a comprehensive, visionary conservation design. We are proud to share with you our first official *draft* Eastern Wildway map! Synthesizing numerous datasets — including the Florida Ecological Greenways Network, The Nature Conservancy's resilience and flows data, the Southeast Climate Adaptation Strategy, McGuire et al.'s climate corridors, Belote et al.'s wilderness corridors, Wildlands Network’s Design for the Northern Appalachians, and some of the connectivity model outputs for the southeast developed by Wildlands Network, Clemson University, and North Carolina State University — we have mapped out 322 cores and 388 corridors across eastern North America. If protected, this wildway network design would protect, reconnect, and restore nearly 50% of the east (49.09% to be exact) – a goal that many prominent scientists, including Dr. E.O. Wilson, believe is the key to saving life on our planet.

Of course, this is a draft and needs much more work to refine and scale appropriately. We are actively looking for volunteers to vet this draft by their state or region of expertise. For copies of the shapefiles to help in this effort or for a detailed methodology, contact Ron Sutherland at ron@wildlandsnetwork.org.

We know this continental-scale wildway vision has been an aspiration for many, including numerous participants in this network. We welcome your feedback and continued enthusiasm as we put this vision down on paper, and eventually, on the ground. We hope you are as inspired by this map as we are! Consider coming to our Eastern Wildway Summit this fall to learn more and get involved in the Eastern Wildway Network (more info below)!

For the wild,

Maggie and the Wildlands Network team

Have news or updates? Share them in our next newsletter by emailing maggie@wildlandsnetwork.org.


News from the Eastern Wildway

A beautiful view of the Blue Ridge at the inaugural Summit in 2015. Photo: Tracey Butcher

SAVE THE DATE: Eastern Wildway Summit, October 9-12, 2017

A gathering of conservation leaders and luminaries thinking ambitiously and strategically about a grand continental vision for wild nature restoration in Eastern North America.

Goals for this Summit include:

  • Review the past year’s mapping exercises and identify priority cores and corridors
  • Develop place-based campaigns to highlight and defend a selection of priorities throughout the Eastern Wildway
  • Strengthen support for Wildlife Corridor bills
  • Advance strategic discussions on collaboration with outdoor recreation and scenic trail groups
  • Fully incorporate climate mitigation and adaptation as a primary driver of the Eastern Wildway Network
  • Explore opportunities to restore ecosystem function through the reestablishment of top carnivores, such as wolves and cougars
  • Build a more inclusive and diverse collaborative network

Location of Summit: Wildacres Retreat Center, located on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Little Switzerland, NC

Invitation to follow

Wildlands Network's Maggie Ernest participated in a panel on generating sustainable funding mechanisms for wildlife crossings along with Renee Callahan of Center for Large Landscape Conservation/ARC Solutions, Carolyn Campbell of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, Michelle Cowardin of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Beth Pratt-Bergstrom of the National Wildlife Federation. Here they pose with P-22, the cougar who has inspired Los Angeles to implement the largest wildlife overpass in the world. Credit: Juan Carlos Bravo, Wildlands Network.

This past May, the International Conference on Ecology and Transportation (ICOET) was held in Salt Lake City, Utah. The week was packed with information, incredible presentations, and a multitude of inspiring stories, showing once again that our transportation infrastructure can be implemented and maintained to protect wildlife and drivers, as well as preserve ecological connectivity. With over 400 delegates representing 24 countries, we heard a diverse array of perspectives, challenges, and achievements. In the east, there were presentations and posters from researchers in Ontario, Quebec, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Florida. For more information, check out ICOET’s homepage where the proceedings should be published shortly. In addition, the Infra Eco Network Europe (IENE) – ICOET’s sister conference in Europe – will be held in the Netherlands in September 2018.

The recent reversal of the long-standing McKittrick Policy has been celebrated by conservationists who believe that this policy has been a barrier to some species recovery, including the rare Red Wolf. Credit: Becky Bartell, USFWS.

On June 21st, a federal court threw out the long-standing McKittrick Policy. This policy prosecutes those who kill endangered species only if the defense can prove that they knowingly targeted a listed species. Many conservationists have argued that this policy has hampered endangered species recovery, including red wolves, whose predominant cause of mortality is by illegal gun-shot. Other species protection efforts that have been affected by this policy includes black bear, grizzly bear, grey wolf, and Mexican wolf, among others.

Cindy Dohner, pictured here with the previous Director of USFWS, Dan Ashe, will be moved from her position as Southeast Regional Director for USFWS to BLM. Ms. Dohner has been involved in the high profile fight over the recovery of red wolves. Credit: Tom MacKenzie.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced last month the reassignment of dozens of top career officials. This is a move that can only be done by after a political appointee has been in office over 120 days, which was reached June 28th. Of importance in the East, is the reassignment of USFWS Southeast Regional Director Cindy Dohner to BLM. Cindy Dohner has been involved in the high profile fight over the recovery of the red wolf population.

Take Action

A mother red wolf and one of her pups at the Durham Life & Science Museum. Last month, 3 of her 4 pups escaped from their enclosure, but luckily all were reunited about a day later. Credit: Ron Sutherland, Wildlands Network

Protect Red Wolves

This past fall, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced their decision to significantly reduce the wild red wolf population, which only exists in northeastern North Carolina. This spring, the agency gave notice of a 60-day public comment period concerning their ill-advised proposal to pull back on the wild population of wolves in North Carolina. Now is our chance to tell the USFWS their plan will almost certainly condemn the species to extinction in the wild. Submit your comments now through July 24th!


Upcoming events & conferences:

Colorado River Rafting Trip

Join Jon Huertas, Wildlands Network, and Holiday River Expeditions for a 3 Night – 4 Day Colorado River Rafting Trip through Ruby/Horsethief and Westwater Canyons, August 10-13, 2017.

Eastern Wildway Summit

Join Wildlands Network at a gathering of conservation leaders and luminaries thinking ambitiously and strategically about a grand continental vision for wild nature restoration in Eastern North America October 9-12, 2017.

Quebec Conference: Roads, Wildlife, & Adaptation to Climate Change: From Research to Action

The only road ecology conference in French in Quebec took place six years ago.  This upcoming conference will share results from new research and various partnership projects initiated since 2011 to mitigate the impacts of roads on (terrestrial and aquatic) wildlife and habitat connectivity, and to better adapt to climate change. The conference will include presentations, workshops, kiosks and a fieldtrip, all available in French and English Oct 23-25, 2017.

World Fish Migration Day

The World Fish Migration Day (WFMD) is a one day global celebration to create awareness on the importance of open rivers and migratory fish and it is coordinated by the World Fish Migration Foundation. On World Fish Migration Day organizations from around the world organize their own event around the common theme of: connecting fish, rivers, and people. Many of these events are open to the public. By working together we create a greater driving force to raise awareness, share ideas and secure commitments. Find an event near you to celebrate April 21, 2018.

Have news or updates? Share them in our next newsletter by emailing maggie@wildlandsnetwork.org.

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