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Photo: Seth Bynum, PDZA

Wildlands Network is committed to providing up-to-date information about our on-the-ground efforts to reconnect, restore, and rewild North America. We are starting a new series of monthly newsletters, focusing on a different Wildway each month.

We’re bringing you updates from the Western Wildway this month. In this issue, you will learn about Wildlands Network's critical programs in the West, including documenting wildlife along Highway 2, contributing to the body of science used in Mexican wolf recovery, fighting for California condors, and hosting a successful RumbleX event. You will also learn about some of the vital work our partners do to support continental conservation, like developing audio tours, hosting a Madrean Conference, and protecting parks. Collaboration is key to Wildlands Network’s success on the ground, so we hope you enjoy hearing their stories as much as we enjoy working them!

You can manage your subscription to these newsletters and other email content by clicking “Manage Subscription” at the bottom of this email.

A group of people stand in a circle at the bottom of a hill.

Dr. Eugenio Larios asks NJP Biologist Miguel Gómez Ramírez questions about trail cam function, while PhD candidate Ricardo Felix takes field notes. Photo: Myles Traphagen

Wildlands Network Hosts Trail Camera Workshop for Partners in Mexico Road Ecology Project

Mexico’s Highway 2 is a vital transportation artery for humans across northern Mexico. It also happens to cut directly across habitat for jaguars, Sonoran pronghorns, black bears, Mexican wolves and a host of other creatures who call northern Mexico home. The result is all too familiar to all of us: Wildlife-vehicle collisions are frequent, causing death and destruction for humans and animals alike.

Wildlands Network has worked to document roadkill along Highway 2 for years, helping make the case to Mexican transportation officials that mitigation measures for the highway are appropriate. Our next step is to document living wildlife behavior through camera traps placed along and near the highway. To do this, we’re contracting with researchers in Mexico. In late March, our borderlands program coordinator, Myles Traphagen, and our Mexico program director, Juan Carlos Bravo, organized a workshop in Mexico to train our contractors on the use and placement of wildlife cameras for this important next step.

Our supporters can look forward to the photo and video results of this work later in the year. Meanwhile, learn more about our work on Highway 2 and how you can help by reading Myles’ recent blog post.

A map highlighting Mexican wolf habitat connectivity from most conductance to most resistance.

Map showing Mexican wolf habitat connectivity. High resolution maps available to the media. Map: Wildlands Network and Grand Canyon Wildlands Council

New Connectivity Analysis Demonstrates Importance of Public Lands for Mexican Wolf Recovery

On May 23, Wildlands Network, along with our partner organization, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, released maps showing new connectivity analysis, completed by contractor Birds Eye GIS, for the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area. The analysis, designed to identify landscape connectivity and major linkages between intact habitat areas for Mexican wolves, was completed using Circuitscape and LinkageMapper software. For the first time, the most advanced connectivity mapping tools were applied to the U.S. recovery area for Mexican wolves, contributing to the body of science and research used to assist in wolf recovery.

The findings of the analysis show the importance of national forest lands in Arizona and New Mexico, especially the remote forested areas running along the Mogollon Rim between northern Arizona and western New Mexico’s Gila National Forest.

“The Forest Service, along with all public land managers in the Southwest, have a duty to assist Mexican wolf recovery through responsible management,” said Kim Crumbo, conservation director for Wildlands Network. “We hope that by providing these agencies with better information about likely wolf movement patterns, they can take proactive measures to maintain the ecological integrity of habitat and to implement human-wolf conflict avoidance strategies, which together are critical to successful recovery of the Lobo.”

Read our press release and find out more about the project here.

This is a closeup photo of a bird of prey, with a naked head and a crown of black feathers that covers its entire body.

California condor. Photo: Chuck Szmurlo

Report Highlights Threats Facing California Condor in Grand Canyon National Park

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) recently released a report on “The 10 National Parks with the Most Endangered Species.” Highlighted within the findings was the plight of the California condor, a large native scavenger that was on the brink of extinction before a captive breeding and release program was implemented in the 1980s. Since then, the number of condors has increased in the wild, but fewer than 100 can be found soaring the skies around Grand Canyon.

The greatest threat to condors in the wild in northern Arizona and southern Utah, you might be surprised to learn, is lead poisoning. Because these birds scavenge off carcasses, they are likely to come across deer and other animals shot with lead ammunition, the most widely used form of hunting ammo in the United States.

Wildlands Network has long advocated for better regulation and management of lead ammunition. California passed a ban on lead ammunition in 2013, which will take effect next year. Other states, like Utah, have adopted voluntary lead-reduction measures, which most hunters have adopted. However, it only takes one lead-contaminated meal for a condor to become poisoned and eventually die. That’s why we’re pressuring the Forest Service to ban lead ammunition in the Kaibab National Forest, which surrounds Grand Canyon. Unfortunately, the Forest Service resisted these efforts, so we took them to court and are awaiting a decision on that case.

You can learn more about the opportunities and threats for condor recovery in Grand Canyon by reading Kim Crumbo’s recent blog post on the issue here.

A man stands at the edge of a cliff peering smiling and looking down. Surrounding him are tree-covered mountains.

Standing atop the cliff where Aldo Leopold fired his shot at the wolf. Photo: Kristen M. Caldon

Wildlands Network Hosts Successful RumbleX Event in Gila National Forest

This past spring, Wildlands Network hosted conservation friends and allies deep in the wilderness of the Gila National Forest to inspire connections to the place and to each other in the service of strengthening the movement to protect our most wild places. The Gila, one of the most remote and wild places in the country, is home to the recovering population of Mexican gray wolves and a host of other native species endemic to the Southwest. It was chosen as the location for RumbleX, an annual rendezvous for conservation and outdoor athlete communities, because of its importance as the eastern terminus for a wildlife corridor across the forests of Arizona and New Mexico that we’re calling the “Aldo Leopold Corridor” in honor of the great conservationist Aldo Leopold.

One of the attendees, Andrew Wisniewski, provides this parting thought about the experience of attending RumbleX:

“For me, it was a chance to sit back and soak in decades of knowledge from a group of people whose experience transcends both my time on this earth as well as time logged exploring and recreating the outdoors. Overall, it was an opportunity for everyone to recognize and push for progress in not only protecting these vastly unique public lands, but also the diverse wildlife corridors that exist on them.”

Read more about Andrew’s experience at RumbleX and the importance of the Gila on our blog.


Highlights from Western Wildway Partners

Wildlands Network fosters connections between on-the-ground conservation organizations, all of us working toward the common goal of reconnecting, restoring and rewilding North America so that life in all its diversity can thrive. By stitching together the conservation efforts of regional organizations, Wildlands Network is better able to build Wildways across the continent. Here are a few highlights from some of our partners in the Western Wildway.

Rocky Mountain Wild Launches Innovative I-70 Audio Tour in Colorado

It’s rare for an average commuter or driver to ponder how the road on which they are driving affects the surrounding environment at any given moment. But Western Wildway Network partner Rocky Mountain Wild has developed a new app-based audio tour to inspire people to do just that.

Called the “Wild I-70,” the newly released audio tour relies on GPS technology to guide listeners through the environment beyond their windshields as they traverse Interstate-70 in Colorado, which runs from Golden to Glenwood Springs. Offering stories, unusual facts, and science-based perspectives on how wild animals like lynx and wolves use important movement corridors around I-70, the tour is designed to keep people alert to potential wildlife near the roads and to inspire greater awareness of how we can help protect our shared spaces, such as through the construction of the first wildlife overpass on I-70, the “I-70 Wild Byway.”

Find out more and download the tour before your next road trip here.

A group of people sitting around black tables strewn with pens and notebooks. In the back are posters covered with sticky notes.

A session for emerging leaders on Day 1 of MadCon, the first session in a series of events for young conservationists. Photo: Leslie Ann Epperson

Sky Island Alliance’s 2018 Madrean Conference Attracts Hundreds in Tucson, AZ

Western Wildway Network partner Sky Island Alliance once again hosted a successful Biodiversity and Management of the Madrean Archipelago Conference (known throughout the Southwest as MadCon) from May 14-18. The conference attracted hundreds of scientists, agency managers, conservation advocates and students to participate in wide-ranging discussions about borderlands ecology and management. Events during the conference included a binational borderlands photo exhibit hosted at the Mexican Consulate in Tucson, a workshop for emerging leaders in conservation, and a full day program on herpetology in the region.

Proceedings from the conference will be published by the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station. Until then, you can read more highlights from the conference here.


Conservationists Celebrate as Iconic Castle Parks in Alberta Are Protected by New Management Plan

Located in the Crown of the Continent region, the Castle Parks form an iconic Albertan landscape that provides habitat for native species, hosts the headwater streams for communities across Alberta, and contains exceptional recreational opportunities in Canada’s Rocky Mountains. Working together, local stakeholders, including indigenous tribes, conservation groups, government officials, recreation groups and citizens, designed and secured the new management plan to protect precious resources for future generations.

“The Castle is a vital piece of the puzzle in the Yellowstone to Yukon vision,” says Connie Simmons, local resident and planning coordinator with Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. “This is about protecting and connecting people and nature. I am looking forward to seeing how greatly-needed economic diversification for local communities will be supported by the Castle Parks.”

Read more about the plan and the community’s support here.

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