The Yellowstone to Yukon Vision Progress & Possibility
The Evolution of the Vision
1872 – America’s Best Idea Several visionaries including surveyor Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden, artist Thomas Moran and President Ulysses S. Grant (who signs the Act of Dedication) foresee the coming pressures and set aside Yellowstone, the world’s first national park.
Early 1900s – The Spread of a Good Idea Several national parks are established throughout the world, creating the building blocks for a new land conservation ethic.
1885 – Canada Follows Banff National Park is created.
1963 – Identifying How Extinction Happens Scientists E.O. Wilson and Robert MacArthur publish their landmark scientific paper on Island Biogeography, documenting how extinction happens on oceanic islands. Two patterns become apparent: 1) the smaller the island, the higher the probability of species going extinct; and 2) the larger the distance between islands, the higher the probability of species going extinct.
CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF THE Y2Y VISION
There were some people who scoffed at the idea of an interconnected system of wild lands and waters stretching 2,000 miles (3,200 km) when the Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) Vision was first uttered 20 years ago. “Too bold,” they cried, “too impossible.” But there were others for whom such a vision deeply resonated; people who understood the link between healthy landscapes and healthy communities and how the flow of water and wildlife transcends political borders. They became the core from which a network of over 300 diverse partners has since grown, a widespread community who collectively BELIEVES in the POSSIBILITY of connecting and protecting habitat at a massive scale.
WE BELIEVE in connection, not separation; in living with nature, not against it. WE BELIEVE in considering the land at a scale that matters to nature, and in using science to guide our decisions. WE BELIEVE in deep collaboration and authentic partnership, in doing things together rather than alone.
Now, on the 20th anniversary of this momentous and courageous shift in thinking, it’s time to look back and acknowledge that our collective efforts are registering in a way that matters to nature. Together, we are transcending political boundaries, just as we said we would 20 years ago. We’ve made PROGRESS.
WE BELIEVE in the power of a big, bold idea to attract talent, passion and a community of committed citizens who work across political boundaries.
So take a moment to pause, reflect and give yourself a pat on the back for the part you’ve played—the countless meetings; the hundreds of cups of bad coffee; the endless letters to decisionmakers; and the many sacrificed days in front of a computer when you’d have rather been in the field. The effort is adding up to something miraculous. And as we know from large-landscape efforts in Australia and Africa and Europe, it’s inspiring others to do the same.
And WE BELIEVE in hope; for if we persevere, our great-grandchildren will have clean water, pure air, rich forests and abundant wildlife of the kind we enjoy today in the Yellowstone to Yukon region.
2 Cover Photo: Midnight at Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, by Paul Zizka. Page 2 Photo: Leanne Allison Hiking the Richardson Mountains, Yukon, by Karsten Heuer.
1932 – First Trans–boundary International Peace Park Waterton–Glacier International Peace Park is created, paving the way for trans–boundary cooperation for conservation.
This 20th anniversary booklet pays tribute to the combined efforts of more than 300 partners and supporters.
For those who have supported the Y2Y Vision financially, know that your gifts enable the hard work that yields results on the ground. Your investments have paid off and are compounding every day. Enjoy the stories and results that follow. You are observing history in the making; tactile proof that collectively we achieve together what none of us can do alone. Happy 20th Anniversary and onward!
Karsten Heuer President Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative
1980s and 1990s – Wildlife Assert the Need to Roam New technology gives wildlife biologists insights into wildlife movements. One radio–collared wolf moves over 800 mi (1,287 km), and another travels an area ten times larger than Yellowstone National Park. Meanwhile, other species from lynx to bull trout are recorded moving distances in excess of 1,000 mi (1,600 km).
1980 – Welcome to the Anthropocene Scientists note we are losing species at a rate that has happened only five times before in the history of the Earth, the last being the decline of the dinosaurs. The difference, they note, is that this time the extinction is being primarily driven by humans.
1983 – First Highway Wildlife Underpasses Built Parks Canada installs underpasses along a newly–twinned 11 mi (17 km) section of the Trans–Canada Highway in Banff National Park to reduce the number of elk and other wild animals being hit by cars each year.
Lands with a Conservation Designation in the Y2Y Region
Lands with a Conservation Designation in the Y2Y Region
What Progress Looks Like
These maps represent a snapshot of lands legally protected from all roads and development, and those under a variety of land use designations that provide some protection from some activities. It is a starting point for further analysis of gaps and opportunities to create a connected network. Looking ahead, the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative will seek our partners’ input into these maps and continue to modify them to provide a refined picture of lands with conservation designation. A more detailed breakdown can be found on page 19.
Protected Lands Lands with other Conservation Designations Y2Y Region
4 Photo: Wind River, Yukon, by Peter Mather.
1985 – Isolated Parks Insufficient Dr. Bill Newmark identifies the same pattern of extinction described by Wilson and MacArthur in 17 landlocked national parks across western North America. The only difference is that it is not water, but a rising sea of human development cutting off migrations and other life processes. Not even Banff or Yellowstone, he concludes, are big enough to prevent extinctions if they are ecologically isolated.
1985 – Society for Conservation Biology Born Several big–thinking biologists articulate the need for a branch of science that focuses solely on stopping and reversing species extinction. Much of the initial work focuses on minimum reserve sizes, minimum viable populations, and connecting wildlife corridors.
I wrote the words “Yellowstone to Yukon” for the first time with the conviction that this was the right scale at which to think and act.
By: Harvey Locke Founder of the Y2Y Vision
The origins of the Yellowstone to Yukon Vision are in the land, the waters that flow from it and in the cultures shaped by the landscape. For at least twelve thousand years, aboriginal people moved with the natural north–south grain of the land, following the animals, and trading goods. The 49th parallel was insignificant to them—just as it is insignificant to nature. The clear streams that rise in the Northern Rocky Mountains are the stronghold of native trout. These streams merge to form rivers that flow across the border, such as the Flathead, the Columbia and the Yukon. All the great rivers of western North American rise in the mountains from Yellowstone to the Yukon. As people of European descent became dominant, the stunning natural beauty of the region led to the creation of the world’s first national park at Yellowstone and the world’s third at Banff. The shared nature of the landscape led to the creation of the world’s first international peace park at Waterton– Glacier, straddling the Canada–U.S. border. The construction of the Alaska Highway led to tourists driving from Yellowstone to the Yukon to see the natural wonders of a shared landscape. I met many of them in Banff National Park where I worked at
1991 – ‘Continental Conservation’ The growing movement by biologists and conservation leaders to think big begins to converge. Several founders of the Society for Conservation Biology start The Wildlands Project, an entity devoted to interconnecting protected areas across North America.
1992 – Y2Y Eagle Migration ‘Discovered’ Geologist and master birder Peter Sherrington notices hundreds of eagles migrating high above the Alberta mountains, and returns every day for the next few months to record more than 6,000 golden eagles and 18 species of other raptors migrating from WY to AK and the YT.
August 1993 – The Birth of the Y2Y Vision While sitting around a campfire on a wilderness trip in northern B.C., Wildlands Project board member Harvey Locke pens an essay called ‘Yellowstone to Yukon’ on the back of a topographic map. This essay lays out the beginnings of a conservation vision for one of the most intact ecosystems in the world.
ORIGINS: “YELLOWSTONE TO YUKON” the Park Information Center in the summers during my university and law school years. The first time I visited Yellowstone in 1979 I knew it was somehow connected to Banff, but I couldn’t say how.
Project (now Wildlands Network) had published a volume calling for a continental approach to nature conservation. The World Wildlife Fund had done something similar for large carnivores in Canada. I had been discussing large–ecosystem conservation with my colleagues at CPAWS and learned, through the successful campaign to protect the Tatshenshini River, how to work across the Canada–U.S. border. In the United States the idea of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem was becoming well established. By the early 1990s, it was time for us to think like the Rocky Mountains.
This connection would eventually become clear to me as I came to understand ecology better. In the early 1990s, I was the volunteer President of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS). At that time, environmental law was in its early stages in Canada. A number of conservation groups retained me to work on cases to protect wild places and wildlife that were threatened by golf resort and housing projects in Alberta’s Rockies. I had the good fortune of retaining a number of leading biologists to serve as expert witnesses. They patiently taught me about how large mammals move through and use the landscape, and what they need to survive.
A variety of people proposed working at the scale of Waterton–Glacier to Banff or Yellowstone to Jasper. I was unsure of just how big we should be thinking, as I had been working with people like Canadian conservationists Ray Rasmussen, George Smith, Wayne Sawchuk and Juri Peepre whose focus lay further north.
Conservation biology was also an emergent field then. With the help of new technology such as radio collars and satellite transmitters, field scientists confirmed that nature knows no borders and that animals move far greater distances than we had previously understood. I read about island biogeography and connectivity. It became clear to me and many others that we needed to think beyond parks as islands to whole landscapes. Wolves, grizzly bears, and lynx, as well as golden eagles and trumpeter swans, travel long distances along the Rocky Mountains from Yellowstone to Yukon in search of food, mates and safe places to rear their young. Research showed that their populations need to be connected at vast scales in order to remain viable.
In the summer of 1993, the land revealed the answer. A 14–day walking traverse of the Willmore Wilderness Park north of Jasper National Park, followed immediately by a horse trip in the wild Northern Rockies of British Columbia made it clear to me that there is one gigantic linear ecosystem that extends from Yellowstone to the Yukon. By a campfire above Keily Creek in the heart of what is now called the Muskwa–Kechika, I pulled out a pen and began writing on a topographic map. I wrote the words “Yellowstone to Yukon” for the first time with the conviction that this was the right scale at which to think and act.
Among friends and colleagues in the conservation and science communities there were many discussions about conservation at a bigger scale. The Wildlands
The words came quickly. I crawled into my tent and kept writing and emerged in the morning with a 6
Photo: Topographic map of B.C.’s Muskwa-Kechika with Harvey Locke’s draft of the Y2Y-focused ‘Borealis’ essay.
complete draft of an article for Borealis, the CPAWS magazine. To complement this piece, I had to commission a map, as there were none below the scale of the entire continent that showed the region as a whole. The map and article were circulated as a discussion paper at the founding meeting to consider conservation at the Yellowstone to Yukon scale. That first meeting in December 1993 was remarkable. The Wildlands Project and CPAWS co-hosted some 30 scientists and conservationists from both sides of the Canada–U.S. border. We gathered for three days in the mountains at Kananaskis, Alberta. Many of us had never met before. We agreed it was time to challenge ourselves to work together at an unprecedented scale. The map was refined and expanded. We had crossed the border, both physically and mentally, and began to collaborate on projects. At that meeting, the Y2Y Vision changed from an idea held by one to a vision owned by many. After 20 years of working together, we have learned what works and what doesn’t work, and today people all over the world have become interested in Yellowstone to Yukon as a model for large–landscape conservation. I’ve had the privilege of speaking to groups on every continent except Antarctica about how large–landscape conservation can become a new norm for our planet in the 21st century. If there is one thing the Y2Y Vision reminds all of us is that when we listen to the natural world, the path to conservation— and its potential to reshape our future—becomes clear.
December 1993 – The Vision Unveiled Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and the Wildlands Project host a meeting in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains with scientists and activists from both sides of the U.S.–Canada border to discuss Locke’s essay and the possibility of conservation at the Y2Y scale. Key presenters include renowned biologists Dr. Reed Noss and Dr. Paul Paquet.
November 1994 – Wolves Reintroduced to Yellowstone The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduce wolves in Yellowstone Park from a source population near Hinton, AB. Twenty years later, the Yellowstone wolf population is thriving and has expanded well beyond the boundaries of the Park, helping to restore the region’s predator–prey balance.
Spring 1994 – Y2Y Biodiversity Conservation Strategy Published The essay Locke outlined on the topographical map the year before is published in Borealis Magazine, marking the first public dissemination of the Y2Y Vision.
1994 – Y2Y Council and Coordinating Committee Some 40+ self–appointed individuals from academia and the conservation movement organize themselves as the Y2Y ‘Council.’ Their mandate is to move the vision of an interconnected system of parks and reserves from Yellowstone to Yukon forward. A smaller Coordinating Committee is authorized to implement the Council’s decisions.
The collective results of all this work is a stunning breadth of progress toward the vision from a vast array of groups.
The Y2Y Vision changed the way people thought about conservation. For the first time, groups and agencies considered the impact of their work, not just to the local environment but to the continental ecosystem. Suddenly, a small 87 acres (35 ha) slice of private land commonly used by grizzlies to get from one mountain range to another is recognized as vital to the survival of grizzly populations across the continent. And protecting wild, untouched spaces in northern Canada is acknowledged as the best defense against an emerging threat—climate change. This shift also impacted funders, who found this new continental–scale approach intriguing and, more importantly, promising. Positioning projects within the larger Y2Y Vision meant their investment in local and regional Y2Y projects
LEVERAGING SUPPORT would compound exponentially. The group tasked with carrying the Y2Y Vision—Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y–CI)—leveraged this opportunity, and helped attract more than $45 million dollars from funders that have gone on to support local on–the–ground partner projects that collectively contribute to the Y2Y Vision.
Contributions to the Y2Y Vision Achieving the Y2Y Vision was and will always be a group effort. With each contribution both big and small from partners and non-partners we advance the Vision. The images and statements on these pages represent only a fraction of the progress made by an incredible community of dedicated people. To all of you, we say thank you!
Wildsight has helped to achieve a mining and oil and gas ban on 388,202 ac (157,099 ha) of the Canadian Flathead River Valley.
WCS’s Dr. John Weaver led the science that guided the expansion of Nahanni National Park Reserve in the NWT more than seven–fold.2
CPAWS SAB has been instrumental in making Kananaskis Country what it is today, including establishment of the Elbow–Sheep and Bow Valley protected areas.3
Friends of Scotchman Peaks has helped conserve 1140 ac (461 ha) of land in MT & ID.
Yaak Valley Forest Council’s Headwaters Restoration Project has restored 200 stream–road crossings.
WildEarth Guardians has documented wildlife return to formerly roaded landscapes using motion–triggered cameras across six national forests in the northern Rockies.
VARD has successfully advocated for a Teton Valley (ID) subdivision re–platting ordinance that has saved 3,000+ ac (121,405+ ha) from urban sprawl.4
Valhalla Wilderness Society has developed two major park proposals in the Inland Temperate Rainforest of B.C. based on their Conservation Area Design.
Since 1993... The Craighead Institute has articulated and implemented a scientific approach to conservation planning as expressed in Conservation Planning; Shaping the Future.
The Miistakis Institute and partners, working with citizens and scientists, identified 31 crossings sites on Hwy 3 for safe passage of wildlife.
CPAWS YK has worked for permanent protection in vast areas of the Peel Watershed, Y2Y’s northern anchor.1
Nature Conservancy of Canada has protected more than 700,000 ac (29,000 ha) of habitat in Canada’s Y2Y region.
Trust for Public Land has protected 28,000 ac (11,331 ha) of private land in the Lower Kootenai River valley while ensuring recreational access and safeguarding critical habitat.
Sierra Club BC has been instrumental to the Flathead being legally protected from coal, mineral and oil and gas exploration.
NFWF has inventoried 151 mi (244 km) of highway to make them safer for people and wildlife in ID & MT.5
CLLC helped create major new wildlife corridor policies for U.S. national forests, public highways and private ranchlands.6 8
Photo: Grey Stone River, Yukon, by Peter Mather.
Nature Trust of British Columbia has protected 12,590 ac (5,097 ha) of private land in B.C. with its partners.
Cows and Fish has motivated hundreds of households in rural Alberta to care for their riparian areas and watersheds.
1994 – Key Funders Support Initial Efforts Ted Smith, executive director of the Henry P. Kendall Foundation, teams up with the Kahanoff Foundation to make the first big grant to the Y2Y Council enabling it to gain an institutional footing. Gary Tabor of the Kendall Foundation writes a strategic report on funding opportunities for Y2Y.
1995 – Willmore Wilderness Park Act 1 M ac (405,000 ha) of land adjacent to Jasper National Park is legally protected from industrial development, including oil and gas, mining and forestry.
1996 – Y2Y on “The Nature of Things with David Suzuki” Two years in the making, this is the first television show about the Y2Y Vision, and is broadcast across Canada, the U.S. and around the world.
1996–1997 – Y2Y Hires First Staff Members Bart Robinson is hired as the first coordinator to implement the Council’s agenda. Matt Reid becomes Y2Y’s U.S. circuit rider with a mandate to spread the Vision. Kat Wiebe is hired as administrative support, Peter Aengst becomes an outreach coordinator, and Marcy Mahr is hired as the science coordinator.
December 1997 – Public Launch of the Y2Y Vision Mary Granskou, executive director of CPAWS, secures a grant from the North American Fund for Environmental Cooperation to launch the Vision. Some 300 people, including land trusts, scientists, government representatives, Native Americans, First Nations, and national news media outlets attend the ‘Connections’ conference in Waterton Lakes National Park. Interest in the Vision explodes.
WWF Canada’s strategy for large– carnivore conservation in the Rocky Mountains has guided efforts of Y2Y–CI and partners.7
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have helped make 56 mi (90 km) of highway safer for wildlife and people in MT.
Swan View Coalition has removed 750 mi (1,207 km) of logging roads from the Flathead National Forest to protect fish and wildlife.
The Trans–border Grizzly Bear Project has tracked 60 radio–collared grizzly bears to identify and protect 2,000 ac (809 ha) of connectivity habitat.
IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas has put Y2Y on the global stage through several workshops, a conference and two books.8
The University of Montana has brought science to people and people to science to stop coal mining in the Flathead.
Keystone Conservation has helped implement coexistence practices on 100,000 ac (40,468 ha) of public and private land in the Rocky Mountain west.
Parks Canada reconnects wildlife populations and makes travel safer with 48 highway wildlife crossings built since 1983 in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay parks.
The Yukon Conservation Society has intervened in hundreds of environmental assessments to protect the Yukon portion of Y2Y.
Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative has supported over 30 independent researchers working toward common–interest solutions to wildlife and policy challenges.
Vital Ground has helped to conserve nearly 600,000 ac (242,811 ha) of land to support grizzly movement in ID, MT, WY, and B.C.
Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation has removed or modified 167 mi (269 km) of fence in and around Jackson, WY.
Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance has worked to make it safer for wildlife to cross roads and move through neighborhoods.
Dr. Anthony Clevenger has confirmed 140,000 wildlife uses of Banff’s wildlife– crossing structures and an 80% reduction in wildlife–vehicle collisions.
Defenders of Wildlife has erected 100 bear–resistant electric fences since 2010.
The Southern Alberta Land Trust has protected critical private land along Highway 3, supporting the case for crossing structures.
The Blackfoot Challenge has coordinated partnerships that are keeping 1.2 M ac (485,622 ha) of the Blackfoot watershed in conserved working status.
Jackson Hole Land Trust has protected 16,735 ac (6,772 ha) of open space through 161 easements in and around Jackson Hole and the GYE.8
The Nez Perce Tribe has decommissioned 503 mi (810 km) of road.
CPAWS-NWT has helped protect the South Nahanni watershed by supporting the establishment of Nahanni and Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserves.
Headwaters Montana has helped secure the energy and mining development ban in the B.C. Flathead.
The Wilderness Society working with Citizens for the Wyoming Range and other partners protect 58,000 ac (23,471 ha) in WY from energy development.
West Moberly First Nations have identified 14,345,964 ac (5,805,606 ha) of critical habitat for woodland caribou in the south Peace area of B.C. 10
Photo: Wildlife Overpass in Banff National Park, by Paul Zizka.
1. Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society–Yukon 2. Wildlife Conservation Society 3. Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society–Southern Alberta 4. Valley Advocates for Responsible Development 5. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
6. Center for Large Landscape Conservation 7. World Wildlife Fund 8. International Union for Conservation of Nature 9. Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
1997 – The First Wildlife Overpasses Biologist Paul Paquet and others point to the need for further highway mitigation in Banff National Park as the Trans–Canada Highway twinning project creeps west. Groups active in Y2Y, especially CPAWS and the Bow Valley Naturalists, support the construction of wildlife crossings to maintain connectivity. By 2014, 38 under- and six overpasses have facilitated over 140,000 animal crossings.
...we were constantly reminded by the Y2Y Vision that we shared the same purpose
By: David Johns Early adopter and Y2Y–CI Board Member
An unusually wet snow fell on the Kananaskis Field Station where 30 scientists and activists from Canada and the U.S. gathered in December of 1993 to find a way to stop the grim and growing tide of human– caused extinction and other losses. Many of us had not met before and we were part of a community too often divided against itself. The outcome of our meeting was not certain, but we all recognized what was at stake. Existing protected areas were proving inadequate to stem the onslaught— many were not big enough, they were sometimes in the wrong places, and human development was turning many of them into islands, cut off from other healthy habitat, rendering them too isolated to sustain healthy populations of plants and animals. The scientific evidence had been mounting for several years. In 1992, Reed Noss proposed a continent–wide approach which he presented at the meeting: for wild places and wild creatures to survive in healthy, functioning populations, conservationists needed to fashion and propagate a vision that was based on what plants, animals and their communities needed, not what seemed politically possible. If realizing this
May 1998 – Y2Y in Federal Policy The U.S. and Canadian national parks services sign a memorandum of understanding to cooperate in areas of high priority for conservation, including the ‘Yellowstone to Yukon corridor’.
1998 – Y2Y Atlas Y2Y Council creates its first product: a trans–boundary atlas of the cultural, biological, vegetative, First Nations, and geological values of the Y2Y region.
1998–1999 – Y2Y Hike Karsten Heuer and his dog Webster hike 2,200 mi (3,540 km) from Yellowstone to Yukon to assess and publicize the Vision. The event garners wide–spread media coverage and leads to presentations in over 100 communities in the corridor.
1999 – Muskwa–Kechika Management Area (M–KMA) Created The first large–scale implementation of the Y2Y Vision becomes a reality with the creation of the M–KMA – a 16 M ac (6.5 M ha) management area comprised of parks and protected areas and special management (connectivity) zones where some development is allowed. George Smith, Wayne Sawchuk and Brian Churchill are integral to the process that establishes M–KMA.
THE POWER OF A NETWORK vision was impossible, then conservationists had to change what was possible.
boundaries? And most of all—who was going to undertake the next steps?
I shared Reed’s understanding and came to the meeting with the belief that a bold vision for all of North America was needed. But such a vision, informed by science, had to be created and brought to ground region by region.
Without the enthusiasm of those present and their voluntarism, without the Wildlands Network and CPAWS, who jointly organized the meeting, and without others who contributed but could not be there, the Y2Y Vision might have remained just another idea. Because we were bound by a heartfelt recognition that too much was at stake, we would not allow merely formidable obstacles to stand in the way.
Even at the regional level it was a huge challenge, and Harvey Locke knew it as he presented what a system of interconnected wild lands and waters would look like in the region, seeking to touch and mobilize our deepest hopes. He spoke about protected areas stretching from Yellowstone National Park to the southern border of the Yukon Territory. It turned out that no one needed to have worried about thinking too big. Juri Peepre, of the CPAWS–Yukon Chapter, called for including much of the Yukon within the region and others for including Wyoming’s Wind River Range.
In the months and years ahead, we carried the message of working together to achieve what we couldn’t accomplish alone. Some groups felt threatened by the effort to create a network across the region, but many more came to embrace it and make the investment needed to participate. For some it offered a way to overcome isolation. For others the bigger vision was inspiring and they recognized its practical necessity. But at its heart, those who gathered every few months came to work on common efforts; and in doing so we created lasting relationships of trust and cooperation.
Those in the Kananaskis Field Station classroom also recognized that realizing the Y2Y Vision (that had yet to be forged) required more than good science and boldness. It depended on enlisting the passion and experience of those who already cared deeply and who worked in and with dozens of grassroots groups. There was no question of aspiring to create a big, new organization. Instead, we sought to figure out how we could work together.
Meetings in the first few years alternated between the U.S. and Canada and we struggled with unbalanced attendance—few Canadians at U.S. meetings and vice versa. Each meeting—which was open to all groups and ranged from 30 to 100 participants— included many who had not attended the previous or any meeting. This meant constantly going over the same ground. Yet the circling back helped build and strengthen the network. Although groups continued to compete for funding and other scarce resources we were constantly reminded by the Y2Y Vision that we shared the same purpose.
There were other pressing questions we addressed in those two days. Who else should be involved and how? How do we bring people together across such a large area to work together and sustain it over time? How do we forge cooperation across all the political
12 Photo: Delegates from Y2Y’s International Mountain Corridors Conference: Protecting the World’s Mountain Corridors and Peace Parks, at Waterton National Park, 2004.
Among our biggest challenges in the first years was simply keeping things going until we could start to show that cooperation would pay off. The ability to share information and lessons learned and the ability to use the network of partners to coordinate action— including cross–border action—in response to threats and opportunities made clear that working together was a benefit. It’s also difficult to imagine our work bearing fruit and the network taking hold without Bart Robinson. As first coordinator supporting this Y2Y network, he was tireless and smart, and he brought us together; without him we would not have had the horse– power to keep the network growing and delivering. By the mid–nineties, some of us at that first meeting were able to say with some satisfaction—and humility—that the Y2Y network and vision had enough support and utility that it could carry on without us. Despite the many surprises, in the most important respect we were right. A strong force for conservation was created and is achieving results. Not just by the people at that first meeting, but by all those who have joined in the effort along the way: organized partners, volunteers, funders and many others. Looking back on this amazing experience, it was never just the vision; it was the network—the interaction, cooperation, regular communication, meetings, and the results of those factors—that attracted people and held it together. A vision without the network would have done little. This fact is as true today as it was then, and I look forward to forging ahead for many years to come.
1999 – Financial Foundation The Wilburforce Foundation invests $5 million over five years to get the Y2Y Vision off the ground. Other funders, including the Woodcock Foundation, also add their support.
2000 – Non-Profit Status Major funding means the Y2Y Council could no longer function as an informal collaboration. The ‘Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative’ (Y2Y-CI) incorporates as a non-profit 501 (c) (3) corporation in MT and a non-profit society in AB. The Council is dissolved. Jim Pissot becomes executive director, and Y2Y-CI’s first board of directors and strategic plan are established.
June 2000 – National Geographic Book: Yellowstone to Yukon A compelling book written by Doug Chadwick augments the Y2Y Vision in the public eye. This is the result of Ernie Labelle’s efforts who, as a Fortune 500 company lobbyist, presented the idea of the book to his friend and editor at National Geographic.
A COMMUNITY THE SIZE OF A MOUNTAIN To Connect and Protect the Y2Y Region The power of the Yellowstone to Yukon Vision does not simply lie in its ability to inspire but, more importantly, in its power to connect and empower a network of people dedicated to creating conservation outcomes that stitch it. Looking back over the last 20 years, we see this community is the size of a mountain! Some 300 partners, including landowners and land trusts, businesses, government agencies, Native American and First Nations communities, scientists and conservationists have diligently worked toward the Y2Y Vision and have collectively contributed to the incredible on–the–ground achievement seen in the enclosed progress maps. More than 150 foundations, companies, government agencies and countless individual donors have provided the backbone funding for this work. Thank you for your tireless efforts and your steadfast support. Most importantly, thank you for believing in the possibility of this vision. Together, we are changing the future of the Y2Y region, and the world.
14 Photo: The Flathead River Valley, British Columbia, by Jaime Rojo.
Early 2000 – Present Y2Y Inspires Large Thinking Elsewhere in the World An Australian government–led initiative to connect reserves along a 2,235 mi (3,600 km) swath of the Great Eastern Ranges moves forward, largely inspired by Y2Y. Similar initiatives crop up in eastern North America (A2A – Algonquin to Adirondacks) and in the marine environment (B2B – Baja to Bering Strait).
January 2001 – U.S. Roadless Rule President Clinton establishes the Roadless Rule (not finalized until 2012.) The Rule prohibits road construction and timber harvesting on inventoried roadless areas on National Forest System lands. As a result, more than 7.5 M ac (3 M ha) of public land in the Y2Y region receives greater protection.
2002 – Trans–boundary Gathering of First Nations Y2Y–CI convenes a gathering of Native American tribes and Canadian First Nations along the Y2Y corridor. The ‘Exploring Common Ground’ meeting leads to aboriginal representation on the board.
2003–2012 – Rob Buffler, Y2Y Executive Director Rob Buffler, a U.S. conservationist with expertise in protecting and restoring vital lands and rivers, takes over leadership of Y2Y-CI’s staff.
16 Photo: Mount Moran over Oxbow Bend, Grand Teton National Park, WY, by Kent Nelson.
2005 – “Shining Mountains” TV Documentary A four–hour HDTV documentary featuring the Y2Y Vision is created by Banff film–maker Guy Clarkson. Originally produced for History Television, National Geographic Channel and the Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network, the documentary is broadcast in Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the U.S., and is translated into 16 languages.
2005 – Yellowstone to Yukon: Freedom to Roam German photographer, Florian Schulz, publishes a coffee-table book that illustrates the indescribably beautiful nature of the Y2Y region. Displays of the book and its images grace the Burke Museum in Seattle, the Field Museum in Chicago and the Draper Museum in Cody, WY, and expose millions to the vision.
2005–2007 – Building Large–landscape Science Y2Y–CI publishes scientific reports on grizzlies, fish and birds in the Y2Y region. Dr. Troy Merrill’s report on grizzly bears becomes the foundation of Y2Y–CI’s conservation strategy under the theory that if the needs of grizzlies are conserved then the requirements of most other species (including the ecological services that support humans) will be captured within them.
May 2006 – Y2Y in New York Times A high–profile article brings international attention to the Y2Y Vision and inspires big– picture thinking across North America and around the world.
2007 & 2009 – Grizzlies Respond to Habitat Restoration in the Cabinet–Purcell Mountain Corridor A male grizzly bear makes its way into MT’s Bitterroot Ecosystem where grizzly bears have not been seen since 1946. DNA analysis shows it is from the Selkirk population near the Canadian border. Another male is found south of ID’s I–90, farther south in the state than bears had been seen since the early 20th century.
2006 – Cabinet–Purcell Mountain Collaborative Established Y2Y–CI’s science helps identify the Cabinet–Purcell Mountain Corridor (where MT, ID and B.C. meet) as a key area for keeping wildlife populations in the larger Y2Y system connected. Y2Y–CI convenes 60+ partners, who begin working together to restore connections among isolated grizzly populations.
2008 – Darkwoods Is Purchased for Conservation The Nature Conservancy of Canada secures the single largest private land purchase for conservation in Canadian history. The 136,000 ac (55,037 ha) of land in the southern Selkirk Mountains of B.C provides clean water, rare vegetation and a refuge for wildlife, including one of the last herds of southern mountain caribou in the world.
The collective work of hundreds of organizations over the past 20 years is captured in the 1993 to 2013 maps on this spread, and the difference between the two is astounding.
20 YEARS OF PROGRESS Eagle
As any conservation organization and their dedicated funders know, doing conservation work often feels as if you are taking two steps forward and one step back. Fuelled by an unwavering belief in the end goal and propelled by a litany of urgencies that never seem to disappear, we often do not stop to look back and see the collective progress we are making. But now it is the time to pause, reflect and celebrate. The collective work of hundreds of organizations over the past 20 years is captured in the 1993 to 2013 maps illustrated here, and the difference between the two is astounding. When the Y2Y Vision began only 11 per cent of the Y2Y region was protected1 and a mere 1 per cent fell in other conservation designations. Since then, the amount of protected land has doubled to 21 per cent, and the amount of other conservation designations2 has sky rocketed by 30 times. This is something all of those involved—partners, funders, and supporters—should be proud of. Given this mission to connect and protect habitat so people and nature can thrive, it is logical to ask how much of the “other conservation designations” are managed for connectivity. Y2Y–CI will be consulting with its partners to ensure accuracy and affirm that the types of lands constituting each category are appropriate. This snapshot will help the Y2Y network identify gaps and opportunities for future work, and one of the first items to review is the characteristics of these ‘connected’ lands to ensure that only those managed to provide long– term connections for biodiversity are included.
While these maps and numbers are impressive, they represent only a small category of effort. Other work, such as habitat restoration, programs that provide communities with tools to coexist with wildlife, and efforts to make highways wildlife friendly, are not reflected in this map. Tracking the growth and effectiveness of these types of efforts will be important as the Y2Y Vision moves forward. Y2Y-CI looks forward to reporting on this progress in the years to come.
Fort St. John
Fort St. John
1. Lands represented as ‘protected’ in both maps include: Canadian National Parks and Reserves, Alberta Wilderness Areas, Alberta Wilderness Parks, Alberta Provincial Parks, B.C. Provincial Parks, B.C. Conservancies, B.C. Ecological Reserves, NWT Parcels of Conservation Interest, Yukon Territorial Parks, Yukon Wilderness Preserves, Yukon Peel River Protected Areas, U.S. National Parks, U.S. Wilderness and U.S. National Monuments.
Nelson Cranbrook Creston
Nelson Cranbrook Creston
Coeur Missoula d'Alene Helena Lewiston Butte Bozeman
Protected Land 21% 66,637,577 ac (26,967,271 ha)
Protected Land 11% 34,710,527 ac (14,046,852 ha)
Coeur Missoula d'Alene Helena Lewiston Butte Bozeman Salmon
2. Other Conservation Designations include: Provincial Natural Areas, Recreation Areas, High Conservation Value Forests, Special Management Zones, Territorial Conservation Zones, Natural Environment Parks, Restricted Use Wilderness Areas, U.S. Grizzly Bear Recovery Zones, National Recreation Areas and Rivers, Roadless Rule Lands, National Wild and Scenic Rivers, USFS Administrative Designations and Private Conservancy Lands.
Photo: Bull Moose, Glacier National Park, Montana, by Northern Focus Creative.
Y2Y Other Conservation Designations 1% 1,668,225 ac (675,107 ha)
Other Conservation Designations 31% 100,354,173 ac (40,611,893 ha)
2008–2009 – First Official Protection of a Wildlife Corridor Based on research by the Wildlife Conservation Society, federal agencies implement a program to reduce barriers for pronghorn antelope along a 100–mi (160–km) migration route in WY known as the Path of the Pronghorn. 40,000+ ac (16,187+ ha) of land is protected and 120 mi (193 km) of problem fencing is retrofitted or removed to enable pronghorn migration.
Connecting and protecting habitat from Yellowstone to Yukon so people and nature can thrive. Y2Y–CI is a non–profit organization created to carry forward and promote the Y2Y Vision and to be in service to the network of partners working on the ground while keeping an eye on the overall picture at the Y2Y scale. In addition to authoring or commissioning more than 30 technical research studies that have helped guide and prioritize conservation work in the region, Y2Y–CI has helped attract millions of dollars of new funding that has benefited hundreds of partners. There have also been many instances where Y2Y–scale priorities have emerged with very little on–the–ground capacity and Y2Y–CI has jumped in and taken the lead. Here are some examples of outcomes Y2Y–CI was directly involved in over the last 20 years:
Promoted the Vision by: • Exposing more than 90 million people to the Y2Y Vision through the media. • Inspiring countless print, art, film and book projects that highlight the beauty of the Yellowstone to Yukon region and its need for protection. • Sponsoring then-wildlife biologist Karsten Heuer on his 1998 Y2Y Hike. His book has enamored, inspired and educated thousands of readers.
2009 – Six–Fold Expansion of Nahanni National Park Reserve The Deh Cho First Nation, CPAWS, Wilburforce Foundation, Henry P. Kendall Foundation, Canadian Boreal Initiative, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada, and Mountain Equipment Co–op cooperate on a seven-year campaign to expand Nahanni National Park Reserve. At more than 7.4M ac (3 M ha), it is now the largest core–protected habitat in the Y2Y region.
2008–2010 – The Montana Legacy Project More than 310,000 ac (125,452 ha) of private timberlands are purchased by The Nature Conservancy and The Trust for Public Land in NW MT, the largest private land conservation project to date in the U.S. The Y2Y Vision is used in much of the messaging and fundraising that secures the purchase.
2009 – Affirming the Vision Within the Context of Climate Change A review of 22 years of scientific literature by Nicole Heller and Erica Zavaleta (Bioscience) affirms that the best way to facilitate climate change adaptation is to improve large– landscape connectivity so species can move toward the poles and to higher elevations.
THE ROLE OF YELLOWSTONE TO YUKON CONSERVATION INITIATIVE (Y2Y-CI) Protected Core Areas including:
Created New Policy including:
• Two new national park reserves, Nahanni (2009) and Nááts’ihch’oh (2012), that together are equivalent in size to nearly four Yellowstone National Parks.
• A new policy by Montana Department of Transportation that requires wildlife– friendly fencing along state highways in places recommended by state biologists.
• The Muskwa–Kechika Management Area, a 16-million acre (6.5M ha) complex of protected lands and special management zones.
• A new southern Alberta Land–Use Plan that sets the stage for legislated connectivity zones in the province.
Created Wildlife–Friendly Transportation by:
• 400,000 ac (161,874 ha) of land in the Flathead River Valley on which oil or gas development was officially banned by the B.C. government.
• Inspiring the addition of wildlife overpasses on the Trans–Canada Highway through Banff National Park. These structures have helped decreased wildlife–vehicle collisions by 80%, and to date have facilitated more than 140,000 safe animal crossings.
Acquired Key Private Land by: • Facilitating the conservation of 17,660 ac (7,150 ha) in B.C.’s Flathead and Elk River Valleys.
• Ensuring that more than 600 mi. (1,000 km) of highways across AB, ID, MT and WY are or are in the process of being mitigated to be safer for both wildlife and people.
• Collaboratively purchasing more than 550,000 ac (200,000 ha) of private lands, which protect key wildlife movement routes.
Helped People Co-exist with Wildlife by: • Funding more than 40 projects that help people coexist with wildlife. 20
Photo: Caribou in the Yukon, by Nicolas Dory.
February 2010 – Trans–boundary MOU to Protect the Flathead Thanks to the dogged work of the Flathead Wild team (including Y2Y– CI), B.C. and MT sign a memorandum of understanding to ban oil and gas development and mining in the trans– boundary Flathead River Valley.
Ensure Appropriate Development by: • Contributing essential research that informed a review panel’s assessment that the proposed Site C dam in the critical connection along the Peace River in northern B.C. is not needed given likely impacts to wildlife and other values.
Restored Habitat by: • Decommissioning 25+ mi (40+ km) of road and returning it to natural habitat. • Restoring 41+ mi (66+ km) of streams to their natural state. • Treating 1,706+ ac (690+ ha) of land for invasive species to allow the growth of native species. • Planting 1440+ native trees to restore the habitat to its natural state.
February 2010 – U.S. Government Embraces Large–Landscape Conservation The U.S. Secretary of the Interior commits to an interagency approach to better address climate change. Several large–landscape cooperatives are established. Of these, the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative encompasses a boundary that aligns almost perfectly with the southern two–thirds of the Y2Y region.
2010 – Grizzly Bears Reoccupy Prairie Habitat for First Time in Over 100 Years Restored and healthy grizzly bear populations in and around Glacier and Waterton national parks begin to spill out of the mountains and reoccupy prairie habitat up to 100 mi (160 km) away. Programs to reduce conflicts with ranchers follow.
2010 & 2011 – Oil and Gas Leases Are Retired in the Flathead ConocoPhillips and B.P. voluntarily relinquish oil and gas leases across 170,853 ac (69,140 ha) of land in the U.S. portion of the Flathead.
November 2011 – B.C. Legislation Bans Oil and Gas Development in the Flathead Provincial legislation officially prohibits oil or gas drilling and development on 400,000 ac (161,874 ha) of B.C. public land, fulfilling the 2010 MOU signed by MT and B.C. governments.
2011 – Y2Y–CI Recognized by Obama Administration Y2Y–CI is included in President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors report as an effective contribution to preserving the nation’s natural heritage.
2011 & 2012 – Conservation Through Art Yellowstone to Yukon: the Journey of Wildlife and Art exhibit is launched at WY’s National Museum of Wildlife Art and AB’s Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. Works by Thomas Moran, Dwayne Harty and others attract international attention.
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES The Y2Y network is doing what no one else has done before.
A Conversation with Karsten & Wendy Q What is the role of the Y2Y–CI to advance the Y2Y Vision in the next 10 years?
Wendy Francis Karsten Heuer and Wendy Francis, both early champions of the Vision, have been intimately involved in its evolution. Wendy participated in the original 1993 vision meeting and later chaired the Y2Y–CI Board of Directors, was an interim executive director and currently is the organization’s program director. Karsten gained first–hand knowledge of Y2Y–scale conservation during his Y2Y hike and as a Parks Canada warden. He now leads the organization’s staff as Y2Y–CI’s president.
conditions that lead to organic collaborations. Technology is a powerful tool that can help us come together over vast distances and common agendas. However, it won’t replace the need for face-to-face interactions. True connections happen in person; technology will simply help nurture those relationships.
A The original Y2Y promise was to create a network that achieves together what no one can do alone. Y2Y–CI has always striven to fulfill this promise by providing financial and other resources to partners, commissioning studies and filling in the gaps where needed. Looking back at our collective achievements, we can be proud. As we move forward Y2Y– CI will expand this role. We will increase our financial support, and are implementing new digital technology platforms that will allow partners to better work together and share knowledge and resources. Finally, we will be adding more staff who live and work in different parts of the region to better support our partners so that we can collectively take advantage of emerging opportunities and needs.
Q What are the major challenges facing the Y2Y Vision as the future unfolds? A The geographical scale of the Y2Y Vision has and will always be a challenge. We work with numerous political jurisdictions, agencies and partners to get the work done. These may be ‘entities’ but ultimately people connect with people, and that means developing authentic relationships with those with whom we work. This can be difficult as people move in and out of positions and establishing new relationships are necessary. But these are temporary set–backs. All you have to do is look at the powerful image of progress on our 1993 to 2013 maps. The Y2Y network is doing what no one else has done before.
Q More than 300 groups have contributed to this Vision; what role does collaboration play moving forward? A The organizing principle through which the Y2Y Vision has and will continue to move forward is collaboration. Certainly, when Y2Y– CI evolved from the more democratic Council, it came at a cost. The role of Y2Y–CI versus that of partners was blurred. One of our goals moving forward is to find more meaningful ways to engage with partners and create the
A more concerning conundrum is the ineffective and short–sighted economic framework on which our society is built. We are making more withdrawals than deposits to our natural world and it’s not sustainable. With an increase in an urban population that is less connected to nature, there is a huge risk that people will not understand the value 22
Photo: Gwich’in First Nation & Northern Lights, by Peter Mather.
of these wild spaces and the need to protect them before it is too late. Getting the message to urban populations that nature needs space is an added challenge. It is difficult for city dwellers to get into wild nature, and difficult for wilderness to compete with the amenities in urban centers. This is challenging to both how and what we communicate. Despite this urban/nature imbalance, the endorsement of rural communities is integral to the success of this Vision. We must invest in both audiences. The Y2Y Vision is a non–governmental– organization–driven agenda, rather than one driven by government. As such, we are often on the outside in terms of policy; but we know that the Y2Y Vision is a practical and appropriate response to big issues like climate change. Our challenge is to make the Y2Y Vision and its underlying values part of the mainstream psyche.
Q What does success look like in 20 years? A Our success will be greatly enhanced by the permeation of the Y2Y Vision throughout mainstream culture, so its values are infused in policy and management practices everywhere. This includes everyday people who are moved by the Vision and organically motivated to play a role in conserving the ability for wildlife to move and respond to fires and climate change. We’ve come a long way already and know from the past two decades that it is possible.
June 2012 – Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Created This new national park reserve protects 1.2M ac (697,021 ha) of important habitat for grizzly bears and caribou, as well as the South Nahanni River headwaters.
October 2012 – U.S. Hwy 191 Safer for Pronghorn Migration The Wyoming Department of Transportation adds fencing, two overpasses and six underpasses across U.S. Hwy 191 to better allow antelope and other wildlife to cross safely. Pronghorn incorporate the structures into their annual migration within a year.
Currently grizzlies are within 100 miles (160 km) of each other in west central Montana – the closest they have been in over 100 years.
When the Y2Y Vision began 20 years ago we all knew one of the biggest and most urgent tasks is to reconnect the three big protected areas in the United States portion of the Y2Y region with functional wildlife corridors. This is important not only for the isolated grizzly bear population in Yellowstone (which will otherwise go extinct) but for all wildlife, especially in an era of climate change where movement will increasingly determine whether or not things survive floods, fires and drought. Now, after 20 years of habitat restoration, private land conservation, public land protection and co–existence efforts, we can see the grizzlies are responding! Compelling evidence suggests that not only are Yellowstone grizzly populations moving northward, but also that northern populations are making their way southward. Currently northern and southern grizzly populations are within 100 miles (160 km) of each other in west central Montana—the closest they have been in over 100 years. Furthermore, northern bears moving southbound are within 50 miles (80 km) of prime, unoccupied grizzly habitat in Idaho’s Wilderness Complex. Conservation strategy is meaningless unless the bears respond favorably. These bears are telling the Y2Y community that its collective conservation efforts are making a huge difference.
December 2012 – Shell Pulls Out of B.C.’s Sacred Headwaters Shell Canada responds to pressure from Forest Ethics, the Tahltan First Nation and Skeena Watershed Coalition, and withdraws its plan to frack for gas in the headwaters of B.C.’s top salmon–producing rivers. The B.C. government permanently bans oil and gas drilling in the area.
December 2012 – Hoback Is Saved An unprecedented grassroots effort, to which Y2Y–CI contributed, leads to an $8.75 M buyout of PXP drilling leases in Noble Basin in the Wyoming Range. The effort protects 58,000 ac (23,470 ha) of important ungulate winter habitat at the southern end of the Y2Y region.
2012 – Montana’s Wildlife–Friendly Fences Montana Department of Transportation adopts a revised policy that requires wildlife– friendly fencing along state highways in places recommended by state biologists. Y2Y–CI advocated for this approach as a member of Montanans for Safe Wildlife Passage.
THE ULTIMATE MEASURE OF PROGRESS Grizzlies Closing the Gap The Crown of the Continent Ecosystem
A. 2002 – A grizzly is photographed feeding on a moose carcass in Rock Creek, southeast of Clinton MT.
B. 2005 – A male grizzly is found just outside of the town of Anaconda, MT in Mill Creek. DNA indicates the bear had come from the Northern Continental Divide population.
K E C
C. 2007 – A male grizzly bear makes its way into the Bitterroot Ecosystem, where grizzlies have not been seen since 1946. DNA suggests it is from the Selkirk population of northern ID or southern B.C. The bear has travelled 140 mi (225 km) and crossed two highways, including I–90.
A J K H
B D F G The High Divide
The Idaho Wilderness Complex
D. 2008 – A male grizzly is trapped and relocated after it meanders into a bee yard on the outskirts of Drummond, MT (on I–90 halfway between Missoula and Helena).
H. 2011 – A collared female grizzly bear is tracked just to the north of Missoula—the southern extent of the Northern Continental Divide population. This is the first time grizzly bears have been documented in the Rattlesnake Mountains in decades.
E. 2009 – A male grizzly bear is found south of I–90 at a game farm in central ID near Rose Lake, farther south in that state than the bears have been seen since the early 20th century. F. 2010 – A grizzly bear makes its way to an area just outside of Butte, MT, in the Elk Park area.
I. 2011 – An adult female grizzly bear is sighted on a remote stretch of the Marias River southwest of Shelby on I–15 in northern MT, with two cubs in tow. This is the first time that bear managers have documented an adult female so far east of the Rocky Mountain Front.
G. 2011 – A grizzly is trapped after it gets into a bee yard on the outskirts of Deerlodge, MT.
24 Photo: Grizzly Bear Fishing for Salmon, by Northern Focus Creative.
2012 – Planning for U.S. National Forests to Address Connectivity National Forests across the U.S. are required to integrate connectivity into their ten–year management plans. The Flathead National Forest, west of Glacier National Park, MT, becomes one of the first to implement the new rule.
L The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
J. 2012 – Grizzly tracks are verified by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks on the south end of the Sapphire range south of Missoula—part of their historic range. K. 2012 – A grizzly population living in the Blackfoot area of the Crown of the Continent is recovering and expanding its range farther south. L. 2014 – A grizzly was found in the Gravelly Range this spring.
January 2013 – From Hiker to President After more than a decade of being an unofficial spokesperson for the Y2Y Vision, Karsten Heuer circles back to become the staff leader of Y2Y–CI.
March 2013 – Blackfeet Reservation Leases Abandoned Following concerns raised by conservationists, Glacier National Park officials, and some tribal members, Anschutz Exploration Corporation abandons its lease holdings on 600,000 ac (242,811ha) of land on the western third of the Blackfeet Reservation, MT.
September 2013 – Teck Conserves Land for Conservation One of the most important pieces of private land for connectivity in the entire Y2Y region is protected as part of a larger, 17,660–ac (7,150– ha) $19M deal between coal mining company Teck Resources Limited and forestry giant Tembec Inc. in B.C.’s Flathead and Elk Valleys.
2013 – A Hopeful Future Grizzly bear biologists openly speculate that, if habitat restoration and recovery efforts continue at the current rate, grizzly bears could re–establish a population in the unoccupied Idaho Wilderness Complex (the largest inventoried roadless area in the lower U.S.) within 20 to 30 years.
End of 2013 Partners and supporters involved in the Y2Y Vision collectively look back at the last 20 years and celebrate the progress made across the Yellowstone to Yukon region.
Y2Y, as a vision and a movement, is only beginning to hit its stride. Jump on, join in and hang on.
By: Karsten Heuer Early adopter and Y2Y–CI President
When I first heard about the Yellowstone to Yukon Vision I was working as a young wildlife biologist, tracking wolves, lynx, cougars and wolverines in Banff National Park. Many of the radio–collared animals I followed ventured far beyond the park boundaries. A few even left the province of Alberta. One went as far as the United States before returning—the famous wolf we now know as Pluie. Schooled by wild animals, I knew the Vision was needed, but I wondered if it really was possible.
is a global model inspiring those in the region and abroad. More importantly, the Vision is a promoter, a catalyst and a beacon calling on people to keeps an eye on the big picture. It helps others stitch together their work into something big and beautiful at the grand scale.
Wasn’t there already too much development? Curious, I called colleagues up and down the corridor but no one could give me a definite answer. With nowhere else to turn, I decided to consult the land itself. It took eighteen months to walk the 2,200 miles (3,540 km) from Yellowstone to the Yukon but time and distance weren’t what I was after; it was a measure of wildness. Using fresh grizzly bear sign as my indicator, I recorded every fresh print, recently used rub tree, dig, and scat I saw along my route, as well as every encounter I had with the bruins. Looking back at my journals once the trip was over, I was thrilled to discover that not only is the vision possible, but also that the land on which it depends is largely intact: I had witnessed grizzly bear activity along 85 per cent of my route.
The work isn’t easy. For me personally I can say the endless politics, meetings and conference calls can be more grueling than any bushwhack or steep climb I had to do on the hike—but the payoff is worth it: collectively we have doubled the protected areas in the region over the last 20 years, mitigated hundreds of miles of busy highways, and helped grizzly bears expand their ranges for the first time in over a hundred years. Such on–the–ground progress is important to note, but what’s even more heartening to me is how peoples’ values have changed. The coal mining industry is a good example: when I hiked through the Crowsnest Pass almost 20 years ago
The possibility and hopefulness of the Y2Y Vision called me back to become the president of the organization of the same name. The Y2Y Vision
26 Photo: Maxine Achurch Hiking the Big Belt Mountains, Montana, by Karsten Heuer.
they reacted with a huge anti–Y2Y campaign. Now, under different ownership, the same entity works with Y2Y–CI to conserve private land, contributing over $19 million to the effort last year. Similar observation can be said of ranchers, who, instead of shooting grizzly bears, are now bear–proofing their grain bins and penning their calves with electric fences, so as to better live with them. And then there’s the term ‘wildlife corridor’. Twenty years ago it was scientific jargon; today it’s a household word. So go ahead and celebrate – we all deserve it – and bear in mind that Y2Y, as a vision and a movement, is only beginning to hit its stride. Jump on, join in and hang on because the next 20 years is going to be an even better wild ride.
CANADA Unit 200, 1240 Railway Avenue Canmore, AB, T1W 1P4
UNITED STATES P.O. Box 157 Bozeman, MT 59771-0157
Tel (403) 609-2666 Fax (403) 609-2667 Toll-free 1-800-966-7920
Printed in Canada, 2014. Copyright 2014 Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. All rights reserved. Design and illustration by kilometre. Concept and copy by RenĂŠe Krysko, with contributions by Karsten Heuer, Wendy Francis and Jennifer Hoffman. Maps by Greg Kehm and Matt Knapik. Essays by Harvey Locke, David Johns and Karsten Heuer. Copy editing by Karsten Heuer, Wendy Francis and Debra Hornsby. Photos were generously donated by Paul Zizka, Karsten Heuer, Peter Mather, Kent Nelson, Jaime Rojo, Nicolas Dory, and Northern Focus Creative.
The Yellowstone to Yukon Vision was articulated in 1993. Conservationists involved in those early days knew connecting and protecting large...
Published on Jan 1, 2014
The Yellowstone to Yukon Vision was articulated in 1993. Conservationists involved in those early days knew connecting and protecting large...