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A doe and her fawns last spring in Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina. Courtesy of Wildlands Network.

My fellow easterners, it seems spring has sprung early this year! While we must reflect on the cause of this unseasonable trend, it has nevertheless allowed millions of North Americans the opportunity to enjoy the varied landscapes our continent has to offer. As the days become longer and the air becomes warmer, we are reminded of spring peepers calling for a mate, the spotted salamander’s arduous migration, and the birth of fawns, cubs, and pups that mark a new generation of wildness. As we continue to get outside and enjoy the season, we should also be reminded of the importance of better integrating the outdoor community with the conservation community. In the next year, we plan to partner with more outdoor recreation groups, particularly along the Appalachian Trail, to highlight the need for protected cores and wildlife corridors throughout the East. More information on this to come soon, but in the meantime, does your group engage with the outdoor community? And if it does, what strategies have worked best for you?

We have a lot of ACTION ITEMS in this edition, so please take a moment to check them out! As always, let me know if you have questions, comments, or updates to include in our next newsletter at maggie@wildlandsnetwork.org.

 

TAKE ACTION

A snapshot of some of the many talented and inspiring conservationists that came together for the 2015 Eastern Conservation Summit. We hope to see you all at this year’s summit!

In 2015, we kicked off the Eastern Wildway Network by bringing together conservationists along the east to Wild Acres retreat center in Little Switzerland, NC. We are planning on holding our second summit this year and wanted to get a better feel for the best time and places for our participants. Please fill out this short, three-question survey to help us better accommodate travel schedules and budgets. We look forward to seeing you there!

An Eastern Wildway tease. Courtesy of Ron Sutherland, Wildlands Network.

If you were lucky enough to attend the EO Wilson Biodiversity Days conference early in March, you might have gotten a glimpse of the draft Eastern Wildway map! Wildlands Network’s Conservation Scientist Ron Sutherland unveiled the draft network of cores and corridors, utilizing numerous data sets compiled through our mapping team. We now need help vetting this map and are looking for volunteers or nominations for people to dive into the map and vet their state or focal area. This will help let us know what looks right, what doesn’t look right, and what we may have missed. To volunteer or nominate someone for a state, region, or focal area let me know by April 5 at maggie@wildlandsnetwork.org. Don’t worry - we’ll reveal the complete wildway soon!

 

Other Eastern Wildway News

Wildlands Network's co-founder, conservation athlete, and wildways advocate John Davis enjoys some paddling during TrekEast in 2011. Courtesy of Tracey Butcher, Wildlands Network.

On December 8, President Obama signed the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016, or REC Act, which authorizes the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis to assess outdoor recreation’s contribution to the national GDP. As we know, at the heart of this industry is the 640 million acres of public lands, in addition to state, municipal, and private lands that provide recreationists the opportunity to enjoy nature. Many believe that calculating the outdoor recreation industry’s contribution to GDP will provide better leverage in securing and conserving our public lands. Find out more.

Missouri department of conservation verifies the presence of a female cougar in the state for the first time since 1994. Courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation.

The Missouri Department of Conservation confirms evidence of its first female cougar since 1994! An analysis of saliva found on the remains of an elk provide evidence of a female cougar, likely originating from the Black Hills of Wyoming, South Dakota, and Nebraska – a find especially significant because females don’t often disperse this far. At this time, the department does not know if the cougar has stayed in Missouri or is continuing to move, nor do they have evidence of a breeding population, but this is hopeful news for cougars in the East! Since 1994, the department has confirmed 68 reports of cougars in the state. Read more here.

One focus area in Maine of the new Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge. Courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service.

This past fall, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, in collaboration with six northeast states, unveiled the newest national wildlife refuge: Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is dedicated to conserving young forest and shrubland, spanning Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island. A few hours north of New York City, Great Thicket NWR will conserve up to 15,000 acres and is the result of partnership between USFWS, the states, and local communities. Congratulations to all those who were involved! Planning is now underway; you can read more here.

 

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If you have news or updates to share please email maggie@wildlandsnetwork.org.

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