As a frequent visitor to Montana, I learned of the Y2Y Conservation Initiative to reestablish a northern Rocky Mountain wildlife migration corridor. However, with a little research, I found similar efforts across North America.
Reestablishing North America’s Wildlife Corridors
The natural evolution for wildlife conservation over the last several decades has been a recognition that species and populations of wildlife can only be protected in the long term by preserving entire ranges of migrations.
In this region of the Northern Rocky Mountains, wildlife have not yet lost their drive to migrate. In its efforts to open the way for free-roaming wildlife, the Y2Y Conservation Initiative outlined the proposed 2,000-mile-long corridor, dividing the designated 502,000 square miles along the route into eleven priority areas.
A tributary of the Colorado River, the Dirty Devil etches a deep canyon in the Colorado Plateau, a link in the Wildlands Network™ Western Wildway©, a corridor stretching from Alaska’s Brooks Range to Mexico and beyond.
Recent genetic studies show the jaguar is a single population; there are no subspecies, which means the jaguar continues to make its way along Paseo Pantera. Following this “Path of the Panther,” the jaguar wanders north into the U.S. Southwest, south through Mexico, and thousands of miles through Central and South America.
The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, along with the adjacent Charles M. Russell Wildlife Management Area, anchors a region of the Northern Great Plains that still has intact prairie sufficient to allow movement of plains wildlife.
The Platte River serves as a stopover on spring migration along the Central Flyway, the main thoroughfare of the Great Plains. Roughly 50 bird families representing 400 species annually use the Central Flyway during their migrations.
A prairie corridor may be the greatest challenge facing the attempts across North America to reestablish wildlife corridors. The Tallgrass Prairie is the most devastated ecosystem on the continent, perhaps in the world. If we manage to salvage the Tallgrass Prairie, then we will have accomplished something.
Mississippi Flyway birds migrate south come fall, following the river through the Mississippi Valley to reach wintering grounds, then return north in spring. Astonishingly, more than 325 bird species, including 60 percent of migratory waterfowl, migrate along the Mississippi Flyway, perhaps the most important flyway in the world.
Follow the A2A wildlife corridor that connects the large “islands” of Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park and New York’s Adirondack Park. The Algonquin to Adirondacks Collaborative leads the effort with fifty partner organizations to connect the two parks and reestablish this migration pathway north and south.
The sheer number of the preserved areas establishes the Cumberland Plateau as a major wildlife corridor, if connections between these preserves can be maintained. A core area in the Eastern Wildway, the Plateau’s preserves and linkages enable wildlife to migrate within this resilient landscape.
An overall Florida Wildlife Corridor, including the Okefenokee to Okeechobee, or O2O as it’s sometimes called, is the southern-most link in the Eastern Wildway© proposed by the Wildlands Network™, stretching from the Florida Keys north through the eastern U.S. and crossing the Canadian border into Quebec.