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State Wildlife Corridor Legislation

Across the planet, habitat fragmentation and rapid climate change are destabilizing our ecosystems. Habitats disconnected by human development create impassable and dangerous barriers for animal movement and migration, cutting them off from potential sources of food, water, shelter, and mates. In addition, climate change is causing conditions, including shifting weather patterns and temperatures, to deteriorate so quickly that wild creatures are unable to adapt fast enough. To survive, they need connected and protected paths to move to more suitable habitat.

We believe that formally designating and protecting wildlife corridors is paramount to combating the effects of climate change and boosting environmental resiliency. To achieve these protections, Wildlands Network is drafting wildlife corridor legislation to protect crucial wildlife habitat in every state of the United States.

A Multi-Tiered Approach to Connectivity

We have a diversified plan to meet our ambitious policy goals. We are bolstering our federal policy efforts with state and local policy initiatives to increase the likelihood that connectivity legislation is adopted at multiple levels of government. In collaboration with state wildlife agencies, Wildlands Network has a plan to establish Wildlife Corridor Action Plans (WCAPs) wherein it is the duty of the state, as a trustee of its natural resources, to designate and preserve wildlife corridors. In our state legislation approach, connectivity will be planned and implemented by a number of agencies, led by each state’s department of fish and wildlife, in conjunction with state departments of transportation.

Our model legislation created by the lawyers on our policy team provides that priority conservation areas will be determined with consideration for the needs of species at risk, including animals with endangered or threatened status and unstable population size, and habitats at risk of fragmentation caused by man-made barriers, including roads, dams, culverts, and commercial and residential developments.

WCAPs will also factor in the anticipated effect of climate change on threatened and endangered species and their migration corridors. Our goal is for states to create a plan to achieve 100% connectivity of identified corridors within five years.State agencies such as departments of fish and wildlife and departments of transportation, along with other relevant state agencies, will be involved with researching connectivity and identifying habitat to connect as wildlife corridors for the long-term protection of their state’s wildlife and natural resources.

Our policy team works to tailor legislation to each state’s needs. We work with organizations on the ground and with legislative council to ensure that we adapt the model to seek the best possible corridor plan for the state. We continue to research new funding mechanisms to make mitigation projects—such as highway overpasses—a reality on the ground and to protect as many wildlife corridors as possible to ensure safe passage for both wildlife and humans throughout the state. Passing state level legislation is a key piece in fulfilling our mission to reconnect, restore, and rewild North America.

Vegetated bridge spanning highway with forest and mountains on either side
Photo: Adam Ford

We are well on our way to building momentum behind our state legislation efforts, with bills signed into law in New Mexico, Oregon, and New Hampshire so far in 2019, and with bills pending in other states.  We are also looking at ways to move our work to the county planning level.

Take Action in Your State

To keep building the momentum for corridors across the country, we need YOU to advocate for wildlife corridors at every level of government. At the federal level, ask your senators and representatives to support the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act, which, if passed, will designate and protect wildlife corridors across the nation.

You can also take action for connectivity legislation in your state by clicking the button below. For future opportunities to support critical connectivity legislation in your state and others, sign up for our e-newsletter, and you’ll receive updates on a regular basis.

Take Action in Your State

If you know one of your state legislators is supportive of wildlife corridors, please let us know by sending an email to our state policy coordinator, Jessica Schafer, at jessica@wildlandsnetwork.org. We’d like to reach out to them about the benefits of a state wildlife corridor bill and what wildlife corridor planning can do to improve highway safety in their home states for both wildlife and people.

Read more about our efforts in the states below. We’ll update this list with draft legislation as it’s introduced, so check back often. For regular updates on the status of each state’s legislation, follow the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

To learn more about our state connectivity legislation efforts, please contact Jessica Walz Schafer at jessica@wildlandsnetwork.org.