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Wild Ones,

Spring is officially here! In Salt Lake, we’re still getting the occasional snowstorm, but plants are in bloom and warmer temperatures are just around the corner. The sun and greenery have put me in an optimistic spirit, as have all the recent conversations I’ve had about progress and new opportunities with people across the Western Wildway. At Wildlands Network and many other organizations, investments are happening in new staff, new programs and new projects. I feel confident about the future of both our network of connected wildlands and our network of scientists and activists.

As I hope you can see from the following stories, momentum is on our side!

Katie

 

Updates from the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

Map of the borderlands in Mexico and the United States detailing the ecoregions and the five borderlands conservation hotspots.

Photo: Defenders of Wildlife

Defenders of Wildlife’s New Borderlands Wildlife Report Spotlights Border Wall Impacts

In April, Defenders of Wildlife released an in-depth, 2-part report entitled In the Shadow of the Wall. Part I of the report chronicles the border wall’s effects on wildlife, habitat, human communities, conservation and binational collaboration. Part II profiles 5 biodiversity hotspots along the border, all of which have seen significant investments in conservation lands and projects. Two of the hotspots lie within the Western Wildway.

More than just a catalogue of facts and figures, the report gives voice to the scientists, agency staff, conservation groups, tribal members and everyday citizens who have dedicated their time and energy to borderlands conservation. Collectively, these stories, and the wild places and animals documented in the report, provide a compelling picture of a diverse and vibrant borderlands region that would only be harmed by the addition of more border barriers.

As Wildlands Network’s own Juan Carlos Bravo says in the report, “If one partner chooses to wall off its landscape and isolate itself, we all lose. Though our personal friendships will last, the institutional ties and the physical corridors on the land will suffer.”

Read the full compelling report here.

This wide shot shows a narrow dirt pathway curving off to the right in the lower right corner of the frame. The rest of the frame is taken up by towering mesquite trees, with tendrils of greenish-gray Spanish moss hanging off nearly every branch.

Photo: Katy Schaffer

Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge Saved from Border Wall Construction; $1.6 Billion Allocated for Barriers

Since President Trump took office last year, many congressional Republicans have felt emboldened to press forward with funding for additional barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. A strong coalition of organizations across the country has come together to fight this most recent attempt at dividing our borderlands, and after a year of exhaustive effort in the halls of Congress and in the borderlands region, we’ve successfully prevented the worst proposals from moving forward.

A key victory in this year’s omnibus spending package, passed by Congress and signed by the President on March 23rd, was the inclusion of specific language protecting the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge from wall construction–the result of months of rallies and campaigning by our partners in Texas. The Western Wildway corridor was also spared in this round of funding, though previous appropriations are allowing construction in New Mexico within a known movement corridor for Mexican wolves. Unfortunately, $1.6 billion was allocated in the bill for barriers in Texas and California, but that amount is far from the $25 billion that was on the table as late as February. We have no doubt we can build upon this recent small win and continue to fight off larger investments in the border wall.  

Border BioBlitz Documents Biodiversity of the Sky Island Region

On March 3, citizen scientists, led by experts like Mirna Manteca of Sky Island Alliance and Myles Traphagen of Wildlands Network, fanned out across the U.S.-Mexico borderlands to document biodiversity using the iNaturalist app. This first #BorderBioBlitz was spearheaded by the Next Generation of Sonoran Desert Researchers, a network of individuals and institutions committed to addressing research and conservation challenges in the borderlands. Spanning across the border from California to Texas, the BioBlitz aimed to document as many plants and animals as possible during the 1-day event.

Read more about the successful Border BioBlitz in High Country News. And see photos from Sky Island’s BioBlitz event at Cuenca Los Ojos here.

 

Wyoming Migration Initiative Records Longest Known Mammalian Migration on Earth

Wildlife migration researchers in Wyoming are once again making headlines with their recent discovery of a female mule deer’s 242-mile migratory trip from the Red Desert to Island Park, Idaho. Building on the success of other mule deer GPS-collar tracking efforts, the Wyoming Migration Initiative successfully tracked the doe, labeled Deer No. 255, on her epic migration, which the group had suspected but was not previously able to officially document. Continued research will elucidate whether other mule deer make a similar migration and where other herds are moving in the region.

Key to the mule deer’s successful migration is the network of protected landscapes in the Greater Yellowstone Ecoregion. As Matt Kauffman, Director of the Wyoming Migration Initiative said, “It’s not a mistake that we’re discovering this type of thing in northwest Wyoming, because it’s one of the wildest places in North America. Those are the types of landscapes where migrations persist.”

Read more about Deer No. 255’s journey in the Jackson Hole News and Guide.

 

Photo: The Center for Large Landscape Conservation

Bozeman Pass Wildlife Corridor Protection Effort Gains Steam

The Craighead Institute is focused on implementing a wildlife corridor across Bozeman Pass near Bozeman, Montana. The Institute conducted a 10-year study of wildlife-vehicle collisions in the area with the Western Transportation Institute. Recently, there has been renewed interest in this idea from local conservation groups including Montanans for Safe Wildlife Passages, the Center for Large Landscape Conservation, Future West, Montanans for Gallatin Wilderness, and others. The wildlife corridor is also an important consideration in the Custer-Gallatin National Forest’s ongoing forest plan revision process.

Connectivity for wildlife through the Gallatin Crest and across Bozeman Pass was summarized in the Craighead Institute’s 2015 report Wilderness, Wildlife, and Ecological Values of the Hyalite-Porcupine-Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area, which was provided to the C-G National Forest Planning Team during the first comment period. Numerous analyses have identified the Gallatin Crest as a key corridor for wildlife movement, especially grizzly bears, going north and south into or out of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Last year, new research demonstrated the importance of the Bozeman Pass area for genetic connectivity in grizzly bears.

Protecting a wildlife corridor in this area will eventually require significant efforts by the U.S. Forest Service, private landowners willing to provide conservation easements, and Montana state lands, in addition to the development of  crossing infrastructure across Interstate 90 and the Burlington Northern Railroad with the support of the Montana Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, and the railroad.

 

Bill Introduced in Mexico to Mandate Wildlife Crossings on All Federal Highways

In March, Mexican Congressman Germán Ralis (Movimento Ciudadano–Jalisco) introduced a bill making wildlife crossings mandatory on all federal highways in Mexico. Since then, the bill has moved through a Commission vote, meaning it can be put up for a vote in the lower chamber (Chamber of Deputies) of Mexico’s Congress of the Union. Wildlands Network’s Juan Carlos Bravo travelled to Mexico City to join other experts in a forum for the Chamber of Deputies, where we spotlighted the need for wildlife crossings in Sonora. The event and legislation are just the most recent developments demonstrating the building interest and enthusiasm for wildlife corridor protection in Mexico.

Read more about this legislation on Wildlands Network’s blog.

 

Sky Island Alliance Prepares for #MadCon2018

The Madrean Conference, the premier Sky Islands regional event for sharing science and building collaboration, returns again this year from May 14-18 in Tucson, AZ. Sky Island Alliance has announced some of the keynote speakers for the conference:

Krista Schlyer, the award-winning conservation photographer and author of Continental Divide, will bring her art and beautiful words to the conference on Tuesday, May 15th.

Melissa Amarello and Jeffrey Smith will open Wednesday's "Current Research on the Herpetofauna of the Sonoran Desert and Sky Islands" symposium, sponsored by the Tucson Herpetological Society, with Whither Underground: Toward a holistic understanding of snakes.

Mary Ellen Hannibal, author of Citizen Scientist and The Spine of the Continent, will start us off on Thursday as we dive into some of the new and exciting ways of gathering scientific data.

The theme for the Madrean Conference 2018 is Collaboration Now for the Future: Biodiversity and Management of the Madrean Archipelago IV. The conference is a dynamic opportunity for researchers, managers, students, and conservation practitioners to learn the latest science and translate it into practical management approaches.

You can register for the conference here.

 

Photo: Y2U

Private Land Conservation Moves Forward in the Yellowstone to Uintas Wildlife Corridor

Yellowstone to Uintas Connection (Y2U) has made significant strides over the last several months as we continue to promote wildlife connectivity between the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and Uinta Mountains in Utah. We are partnered with Wild Utah Project to conduct a geographic information system (GIS) analysis of the Bear River Range, the heart of the corridor identified by Wildlands Network as one of the top 20 most critical corridors in the Lower 48. This analysis aims to identify private parcels with wildlife bottlenecks and impedance points.

With our preliminary results, Y2U has begun reaching out to landowners to learn more about their unique experiences with wildlife, particularly with instances of wildlife-fence entanglements. Y2U is currently submitting grants to match costs put up by landowners for installation of wildlife-friendly fencing in some of the highest priority conflict areas. Through this project, we hope to work with landowners to develop additional conservation protocols for their parcels beyond the initial fence retrofit.

For a corridor encompassing a significant amount of private land, we see this project as an excellent opportunity to form key partnerships and help foster more private land conservation efforts in the corridor moving forward. If you have any suggestions for procuring funding for wildlife-friendly fencing, please email logan@yellowstoneuintas.org.

For more updates on this and other Y2U projects, please visit yellowstoneuintas.org.

 

 

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WILDLANDS NETWORK
1402 3RD AVE
SUITE 1019
SEATTLE, WA 98101
206-538-5363

Katie Davis
Western Director
801-560-2414

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