Hundreds of thousands of people call the Yellowstone to Yukon region home, and millions more travel here every year to visit. Individually, the impacts of one individual or one community may not be significant. However, the cumulative impacts of all these people, along with other pressures such as resource extraction and climate change, can negatively alter the landscape. Fortunately, many organizations, communities, and elected officials are out there working to find solutions for a sustainable way of life.
Efforts for sustainable living are happening at individual and community levels. At the community level, towns can work to manage growth and mitigate the effects of development on wetlands and other sensitive habitats. Individuals can join local and regional groups working on environmental issues, educate themselves and their family about the importance of sustainable living, and actively lobby government for laws that will protect the land. And both individuals and communities can live harmoniously with their furred, finned, and feathered neighbors by installing bear-proof garbage bins, clearing yards of attractants like pet food and downed fruit, and keeping streams and rivers free of harmful substances.
In the end, the desires and efforts of individuals within each community profoundly influence what kind of programs a community develops to deal with such things as recycling and watershed awareness – and they influence what kind of electoral candidates are chosen as leaders. All these factors affect the health and well-being of the landscape, and its wild and human communities.
Finally, residents are not the only ones whose actions will help maintain and restore the unique natural heritage of the Y2Y region. Visitors, whether they come to hunt, fish, hike, ski, watch wildlife, or simply be in nature, can also engage in helpful actions. They can use public transportation, practice informed consumerism, stay on roads and designated trails, obey regulations, and pack out what they pack in.
At Y2Y, we believe that small, simple measures have positive and cumulative effects in helping this mountain ecosystem. Everyone and anyone can make a difference.