Wildlands Network is dedicated to bringing the latest conservation research to legislators and other officials who affect public policy. With over a quarter-century of expertise in conservation biology, Wildlands staff in Washington, D.C., and across the U.S. and northern Mexico, are uniquely placed to influence policymakers with the best available science.
As a science-informed organization, we advocate for new, science-driven laws and policies to protect North American wildlife and their habitats. We also work with land managers to restore habitat connectivity and large carnivores, both of which are critical to maintaining healthy landscapes. In short, we merge science and policy to protect the diversity of life.
In the past two years, we have deepened our internal policy expertise, adding program directors in the Western and Pacific Wildways, both with degrees in conservation biology and environmental law. Together with our executive director and our Washington D.C. policy director, we now pursue law and policy initiatives at the national, state and local levels.
Promoting National, State and Local Policy Solutions
At the U.S. federal level, Wildlands Network leverages its legal expertise through its Connectivity Policy Coalition, which was formed in 2008 to shape and inspire national wildlife corridor legislation, administrative policy and state-based initiatives. We are the only conservation collaborative in the U.S. with a keen focus on habitat connectivity for wildlife. Recent efforts include:
- Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act: This widely-supported federal bill, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Don Beyer (D-VA) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and in the U.S. Senate by Tom Udall (D-NM), it establishes the National Wildlife Corridors System on federal public land to “provide for the protection and restoration of native species and their habitat in the United States that have been diminished by habitat loss and fragmentation.” It also provides grants to states, tribes and private landowners to protect wildlife corridors on non-federal lands. The legislation is supported by tribes, scientists and outdoor retail companies.
- Transportation Bill – Dedicated Funding for Wildlife Crossings: An estimated one million animals are killed on U.S. roads each day. The current versions of the House and Senate Transportation bill have significant new funding for safe passage for animals, wildlife crossings and road mitigation. Specially, the Senate bill establishes a five-year, $250-million wildlife crossing pilot program to provide grants for projects to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and improve habitat connectivity. It also requires the Secretary of Transportation to assist States in reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions and increasing habitat connectivity. The House legislation provides $300 million from the National Highway Performance Program for wildlife crossing projects.
State wildlife corridor legislation: From Oregon to Virginia, and places in-between we work with state legislators, governors and agencies on both legislative agency-level initiatives to protect and enhance large landscape connectivity and to address barriers to movement, including stretches of highways dangerous to both humans and wildlife alike. Recent wildlife corridor bills allow state agencies, tribes, and communities to work together to identify, protect, and enhance wildlife movement and landscape connectivity across the state. We continue to help steward state legislation by helping draft new text relevant to states or sharing text of other state legislative efforts with interested legislators in states without specific wildlife corridor bills. We continue to pursue legislative initiatives in each of our Wildways and beyond.
State agency reform: Wildlands Network’s policy team, supported by our scientists and advocates and in collaboration with other on-the-ground conservation groups, is proactively engaging lawmakers, elected officials, and agency personnel to change the focus of our states’ approach to wildlife management to prioritize protection of core habitats, connectivity, and all trophic levels of species in their efforts to sustain our natural environments.
Public Lands Management
Through the hard work of our staff and the Connectivity Policy Coalition, Wildlands Network has prompted federal land management agencies to adopt new regulations to protect wildlife habitat and connectivity. But regulations are only words until they are put into action, which requires grassroots advocates to ensure that the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management safeguard local landscapes for wildlife.
To assist advocates in their efforts to influence the Forest Service, we have teamed with partner groups to produce, Planning for Connectivity: A Guide to Connecting and Conserving Wildlife Within and Beyond America’s National Forests. We are creating a similar guide for BLM lands.
Protecting Imperiled Species
Wildlands Network is committed to protecting imperiled wildlife—particularly large carnivores and other keystone species. Our multi-pronged approach to protecting jaguars and Mexican gray wolves in the Mexico-U.S. borderlands and the endangered red wolf of the Southeast Coastal Plain emblemize the unique blend of science and activism we bring to wildlife conservation.
Bringing Scientists and Conservation Leaders to D.C.
Wildlands Network, in partnership with the Endangered Species Coalition, organizes speaking engagements for scientists and other conservation leaders on Capitol Hill so that our decision makers are informed about urgent wildlife issues.