Connecting habitat for wildlife
Conservation Northwest connects habitat for safe wildlife movement from the Washington Coast to the BC Rockies.
Animals are on the move in the Northwest. They make daily movements for food, seasonal movements as conditions change, and generational movements claiming new ground to call home.
Part of what we are doing is documenting that movement.
Providing a connected network of habitats to allow for the safe movement of wildlife is simply termed habitat connectivity.
Habitat connectivity becomes even more important as the climate changes and animals move to adapt to a changing environment. Conservation Northwest has successfully connected habitat from the Washington Coast to the BC Rockies, including connecting the north and central Cascades.
A blueprint for connected habitat
Information about where the animals are, how they move, and what specific habitats they use helps us know best what areas need connecting for Northwest wildlife and what options exist for maintaining and restoring connections. To best safeguard animals and habitat, we need those science tools, including fieldwork, mapping, and modeling.
An ongoing connectivity working group for Washington's wildlife and habitat is hard at work developing the best available scientific analyses and tools to understand habitat connectivity in our state and neighboring habitats in British Columbia, Idaho, and Oregon. They have created a statewide scale analysis and are looking now at climate change and arid parts of Washington. This work helps us know best what wildlife and which habitats most need connectivity for conservation.
Working across borders
Wildlife do not recognize political borders, and therefore coordination with our neighbors is critical. Each year we reach across borders to bring people together in our annual Wild Links conference that focuses on a specific timely landscape or issue important to wildlife. We also engage in the Western Governors Associations (WGA's) Wildlife Council to help form a mapping tool that identifies important crucial habitats and connections for wildlife.
Putting science to use
Once the scientific products and mapping tools are prepared, it is important to put them to use and that there is a willing audience ready to use them. Policies exist that provide direction to our state and federal natural resource agencies to consider habitat connectivity for wildlife.
Some of our 2014 priorities:
- Creating safe passage on our roads
- Considering connectivity on our federal lands
- Planning for a changing climate
Investing in key connectivity areas
We're already well on our way to improving wildlife corridors from the Coast to the Rockies.
- Columbia Highlands - Connecting the Cascades to the Rockies
- Connecting the B.C. Coast Range to the Cascades
- I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition
- Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group
- WSDOT Snoqualmie Pass East Project
- Conservation Corridor: A website dedicated to connecting science to conservation