Say ‘Yes’ to Protect the Western Wildlife Corridor
Where’s John? Perhaps the first question in this article should be Who’s John? Followed by, Why should you care?
Let me introduce you.
John Davis is dear to everyone here at Y2Y. He is the face and feet of a North American initiative known as TrekWest, which aims to save our western wildlife corridors stretching from Yellowstone to Yukon - and beyond!
Often described as "John Muir meets triathlete", this writer, conservationist enjoys long (really, really, really long) walks, and bike or horseback rides through the forest. His passion for land travel is only matched by his love for paddling.
Why Should You Care?
Because John Davis is doing something most of us wouldn’t.
Recently, John put down his pen to hike some 5,000
miles from Mexico to Alaska to get people to say ‘YES’ to protect the quickly disappearing Western Wildlife Corridor that follows the Rocky Mountains. “I’m walking the landscape as a jaguar, puma, wolverine or grizzly might to experience and share their journey,” says Davis. “Citizens can support the cause by signing our petition.”
The TrekWes journey is one of the most extensive awareness expeditions to be launched in North America’s Rocky Mountains since Karsten Heuer hiked 2,000 miles in 1998 from Yellowstone to the Yukon.
Wildlife, Walls and Heroes
Since setting off from Hermosillo, Mexico on January 25th, 2013, John has had a collection of experiences that range from hopeful to disheartened, and back to inspired again.
He’s seen jaguar, puma, ocelot and even bobcat tracks in and near the Northern Jaguar Reserve in northeaster Sonora. He’s gazed at two bobcats in the flesh (or fur) in the Gila Wilderness, New Mexico. He even heard a coyote answer a wolf howl. The presence of so many native species throughout the Rockies gives us hope that we still have wildlife and a healthy ecosystem to protect.
Unfortunately, John has also seen plenty of wildlife barriers during his trek. Roads, including Route 2 in Mexico; dams and water projects such as the Central Arizona Project, an aqueduct which runs through Arizona; and barbed wire fences on public lands grazed by livestock impede wildlife movement throughout the region.
But of all the barriers John has seen to date the US/Mexico Border Wall is the most troubling. In his blogJohn wrote, “The border fence does indeed keep travelers out of the US – travelers of nearly all walking and crawling species except the one it was meant to deter, Homo sapiens, us. People who want to cross the border, legally or illegally, know how to do so. Jaguars and pronghorns do not.”
Despite these barriers to wildlife movement, John continues to be inspired the people he’s met who are putting their creative solutions to work for nature.
People like Norris Dodd, who overcame long odds and bureaucracies to win Arizona Game & Fish and Arizona Department of Transportation’s approval to build twenty wildlife-over and -underpasses along Route 260.
Or Valer and Josiah Austinand their team, who are restoring some 200,000 acres of Cuenca Los Ojos lands in Mexico by bringing back native grasses and trees, removing exotic species, and building gabions - small check dams that slows run-off and allows soil to rebuild.
“If there is one thing that TrekWest has taught me,” shares John, “is that the preservation and restoration of a Western Wildlife Corridor is possible - but it needs the cooperation between people of all walks of life.”
Where’s John Now?
Two pairs of hiking boots and 25 lbs. of peanut butter later John has traversed 1000 miles of landscape. He recently crossed the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon and is making his way north. “I’m looking forward to hiking through the Yellowstone to Yukon region.” says John.
Y2Y is one of many proud partners in the TrekWest project and will be co-hosting the leg of John’s trip from Jackson, WY to Fernie, BC in the late summer and early fall of 2013.
Y2Y and our partners are organizing events throughout the Y2Y leg of John’s journey to showcase the research and on-the-ground projects that are helping achieve the Y2Y vision.
Walk With Us
You can be part of the expedition too!
Please sign our petitions to show your government representatives that you believe in protecting the Western Wildlife Corridor.
Better yet, join him on the trail; connect with him at one of our Y2Y events; or be part of the celebration at the end of this year’s portion of the expedition in Fernie, BC, Canada.
Watch for event announcements and invitation, or go to the Y2Y web site for details. Be part of the movement to save our wildlife corridors.