Wildlands Network promotes wildlife corridors at the local, regional, and continental scales to protect and restore native species and habitats. We also advance science-driven laws and policies to enhance habitat connectivity. Recently, we helped spearhead a new bill that, if passed into law, will channel unprecedented resources toward the creation of wildlife corridors nationwide.
The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act was introduced in Congress in May 2019. In the Senate, the bill was led by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), and was cosponsored by Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D- NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Jon Tester (D-MT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Don Beyer (D-VA) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL).
We anticipate the bill will be reintroduced in 2020 by additional Congressional champions. In the meantime, we are continuing to build broad bipartisan support in Congress for the bill.
The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act is supported by hundreds of conservation organizations across the country, and by esteemed scientists like Wildlands Network co-founders Dr. Michael Soulé and Dr. Reed Noss, and renowned biologist Dr. E.O. Wilson. The bill is also supported by major outdoor recreation brands like Patagonia, Osprey Packs, and Petzl America.
The National Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act would provide the most important step of any single piece of legislation at the present time in enlarging the nation’s protected areas and thereby saving large swaths of America’s wildlife and other fauna and flora. Dr. E.O. Wilson
Making Wildlife Corridors a National Priority
The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act would establish a National Wildlife Corridors System 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 would grant the U.S. Department of the Interior authority to collaborate with other key agencies, states, tribes, and private landowners to develop a strategy for creating a national system of wildlife corridors.
Among its other accomplishments, the Act would:
- Grant authority to key federal agencies to designate wildlife corridors managed for the persistence, resilience, and adaptability of native species.
- Mitigate harm to wildlife and threats to public safety where wildlife corridors cross roadways by implementing wildlife overpasses and underpasses and other strategies.
- Establish the Wildlife Corridors Stewardship and Protection Fund to support the management and protection of wildlife corridors.
- Provide incentives for private landowners to protect wildlife corridors using funds from Department of Agriculture conservation programs.
- Create a Wildlife Connectivity Database that will be freely available to states, tribes, federal agencies, and the public to support decisions about wildlife corridors.
Benefits to Wildlife
Scientists have shown that connecting wildlife habitats is critical to conserving biodiversity in the face of climate change, which will increasingly trigger geographical shifts for wildlife populations, plant communities, and ecological processes. The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act would help safeguard native flora and fauna throughout the U.S., and can serve as a model for other regions of the world.
Florida panthers need wildlife corridors to disperse into new territory and to find suitable mates. Because panthers require such extensive areas of habitat, corridors help provide them with safe passage by linking together protected areas and securing alternate travel routes around densely populated cities and towns.
Every winter, pronghorns in the American West must embark on a grueling, 150-mile migration from Wyoming’s Upper Green River Basin to feeding grounds in Grand Teton National Park. Unfortunately, roads, fences, and human development hinder this critical migration.
Grizzly bears, too, need room to roam. Like other wild animals, grizzlies don’t adhere to human boundaries, and our parks and other public lands are too small to sustain healthy populations. But when grizzlies venture outside of protected areas, they are prone to hunting, vehicle collisions, and conflicts with people.
Even small insects like North American monarch butterflies need wildlife corridors to migrate some 3,000 miles from summer habitats east of the Rockies to winter refuges in Mexico and California. Full migrations require three or four generations of butterflies, which must find safe places along the flyway to rest and reproduce.
Each of our America’s myriad wildlife species has unique and pressing reasons for needing wildlife corridors, but one bold piece of legislation will benefit them all: the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act!