A vision for wildlife protection shared along the Pacific coast
From Baja, Mexico to Prince William Sound, Alaska runs one of the longest and most stunning series of mountain ranges in the world and is now visioned as the Pacific Wildway.
With a few exceptions, this set of mountains is an unbroken chain draped with diverse plant life and roamed by the most charismatic wildlife North America boasts. To the west of this chain, running parallel to the Sierra-Cascades, are several coastal mountain complexes rising from the beaches of the Pacific ocean. In northern British Columbia, the Rocky Mountains and the Coast Ranges then adjoin to create one of the most rugged and extensive expanses of true wilderness remaining on the planet.
The lowlands adjacent to, and in between these ranges, have historically produced tremendous forests, provided legendary salmon watersheds but more recently have attracted an exploding human population. The fertile valleys and coastal fringes south of the Canadian border are all but completely converted to nearly exclusive human uses.
More than a century of aggressive logging, conversion of lands for agriculture, and construction of roads and settlements has severely degraded the natural environment of the Pacific region and posed many challenges for those of us concerned with conserving the great natural heritage that remains here.
All is not lost, however. A large portion of the Pacific landscape is held in public hands, much of it in national parks, forests, and wilderness areas. Left as is, these preserves will become further isolated from each other as more roads and cities ring the preserves. But there has been a growing acceptance and understanding of the need to connect our protected areas so as to create contiguous networks of natural areas.
A system or network of conservation lands does not preclude human presence; rather, it requires careful planning to accommodate the needs of all parties. Over the past decade, much important work has been done by conservation organizations, scientists and land management agencies to lay the foundational components for a connected wildlands network stretching from Baja California north along the U.S. West Coast through Canada and Alaska. However, few if any efforts have been made to coordinate and implement a fully connected, international wildlands network on the ground.
Wildlands Network's vision for North America calls for the creation of four such conservation networks or Wildways; along the East coast, across the boreal forest of the far north, along the Rocky mountains, and up and down the Pacific. We are currently working on the Eastern and the Rocky mountain (Spine of the Continent) Wildways. The Pacific Wildway is next.
As a result of the Spine of the Continent Initiative in the Rockies, Wildlands Network has gained much valuable experience that will provide insight for how to catalyze collaborative conservation planning along the Pacific. The timing is ripe, the opportunities plenty, and with your support we hope to generate the resources necessary to begin this important work. For more information on the Pacific Wildway or our other Wildways, contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Although the Wildlands Project's (now Wildlands Network) call for restoring keystone species and connectivity was met, at first, with amusement, these goals have now been embraced broadly as the only realistic strategy for ending the extinction crisis."