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Pacific Wildway

A bear-like animal with light brown and dark brown fur climbs a tree toward a bait bone, with snow on ground.
A wolverine visits a camera-trap station, operated as part of Dr. Robert Long’s research in the North Cascades of Washington. Photo: Woodland Park Zoo

From Baja California, Mexico north to Alaska’s Prince William Sound extends one of the longest and wildest chains of mountain ranges in the world. This largely unbroken chain is draped with a rich diversity of vegetation and roamed by some of the most charismatic wildlife inhabiting North America. In northern British Columbia, the Rocky Mountains and the Coast Range adjoin to create a rugged wilderness unlike anywhere else on the planet.

The lowlands abutting these mountain ranges have historically featured tremendous old-growth forests and legendary river systems teeming with salmon, grizzly bears, and other wildlife. In recent decades, however, the Pacific region has been flooded with an exploding population of people. Humans continue to develop the region at an alarming rate, transforming landscapes so drastically that native habitats and species are swiftly being lost or diminished. The fertile valleys and coastal fringes south of the Canadian border are all but completely converted to human use. Aggressive logging, land conversion for agriculture, relentless road construction, and urban sprawl have severely degraded the Pacific region ecosystems.

Our rapidly changing climate adds another layer of urgency to the need for protecting wildlands and wildlife throughout the Pacific region. As humans increasingly dominate this landscape, we create more and more barriers to wildlife movement and hinder the ability of native species to shift northward or to higher elevations in response to changing conditions. We also impede ecosystem services like the purification of water and air, carbon sequestration, and pollination. In doing so, we fracture our great natural heritage and threaten human health, livelihoods, and economies. The Pacific Wildway is our solution to this environmental and cultural crisis.

A large brown bear stands by a river, looking at camera
Grizzly bear, Yellowstone National Park. Photo: Robert Long

A Wild Vision for Protecting the Pacific Region

The Pacific Wildway will reconnect, restore, and rewild the Pacific region of North America  from British Columbia to Baja California.

Four tools to protect the Pacific Region:
1. Science-based blueprint
2. New policy tools
3. Healthy, functional collaboratives
4. Adding to growing conversation

While our vision is grand, our focus is directed: To achieve our goal, Wildlands Network will employ coordinated strategies integrating cutting-edge science, innovative policy initiatives, and broad-based grassroots organizing. And as in our other Eastern and Western Wildways, we will target the following objectives:

  • produce a science-based blueprint to guide conservation efforts and prioritize projects;
  • develop new policy tools applicable at the local, state, and federal levels to provide more enduring protection for core habitats and all native species—not just so-called “game” species;
  • establish healthy, functional collaborations among a diversity stakeholders who want to work together to create a Pacific Wildway; and
  • add to the growing conversation about rethinking our relationship with wildness.

Once established on the ground, the Pacific Wildway will provide protections for myriad wildlife native to the Pacific region region, including gray wolves, wolverines, grizzly bears, northern spotted owls, orcas, and salmon. This grand-scale wildlife corridor will facilitate unrestricted movement among wide-ranging animals and secure the habitats upon which they and other wildlife depend. The Pacific Wildway will also help promote ecosystem services that support us all.

A snowy mountain rises above a lake and is reflected in the water below. Rocky outcrops jut into the water in the foreground.
McClellan Peak reflected in Leprechaun Lake in The Enchantments, WA. Photo: Richard Forbes

Wildlands Network has long recognized the Pacific region as a key piece of our continental connectivity strategy. Given this region’s progressive environmental policies, elected officials, and citizens—and the reality that large portions of the region are already managed as public lands—we believe the Pacific region is ripe for a strong offensive push to advance environmental protections and preserve the diversity of life in perpetuity. The Pacific Wildway will ultimately show that large-scale connectivity is not only visionary, but vital.

Contact

For more information about the Pacific Wildway, please contact Jessica Walz Schafer, jessica@wildlandsnetwork.org, 503-467-8007.