CORRIDORS FOR CRITTERS: PRESERVING BOW VALLEY CONNECTIVITYCategory: 2012, Completed, Land Use, Major Project
Y2Y’s mission is people working together to maintain and restore the unique natural heritage of the Yellowstone to Yukon region. Their efforts are dedicated to promoting the protection and creation of core wildlife habitats and building connectivity pathways between them to ensure the survival of North America’s large mammal populations. Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country provide vital core sanctuaries for populations of ungulates and carnivores. The perseverance of these populations requires the regular exchange of genes between individuals. The Bow River Valley is the only conduit for ensuring this exchange by providing pathways where individual bears, wolves, cougars, elk, moose and others can travel between protected landscapes.
Although much of the valley is included in Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park, some of the most important valley bottom lands — those most suitable for wildlife movement — are in private hands and are vulnerable to development that will prevent wildlife movement and/or increase the likelihood of conflicts that result in wildlife deaths.
In 2010, Y2Y commissioned a study identifying where wildlife pathways intersect with 26 parcels of private land in the Bow Valley. In 2011, Alberta Ecotrust awarded a one-year grant to Y2Y to improve habitat security and wildlife connectivity through private lands in the Bow Valley. This funding allowed for a strong collaboration of conservation partners to convene and create an agenda for the future of the program. The final activity under that project will occur in June 2012, when Y2Y facilitates a general workshop with stakeholders to generate a common understanding of the acquisition process and identify individuals, organizations and agencies that want to be engaged in private land conservation activities in the Bow Valley.
Yellowstone to Yukon will now move forward by convening a second workshop with a refined group to craft private land conservation strategies, producing an action-oriented report that articulates necessary roles and responsibilities, and securing commitments from partner organizations willing to advance the private land agenda. The outcome of the second workshop is intended to include regional and provincial land trusts, the Town of Canmore, Province of Alberta, and M.D. of Bighorn to acquire properties or easements from willing sellers, create a fundraising strategy, and determine future activities.