- Encourages and facilitates collaboration between individuals and groups working on conservation efforts throughout the Yellowstone to Yukon region
- Attracts funding for conservation efforts in the region and provides grants to partners whose projects support the Yellowstone to Yukon vision
- Works with partner organizations on events, projects, publications, communications and funding opportunities that contribute to the Yellowstone to Yukon vision
- Uses science to identify Priority Areas for conservation efforts in the region, and works with biologists and landscape ecologists to refine priority area boundaries and goals based on the most current research
- Uses science to identify threats to conservation in the region
- Promotes education and awareness to enable human communities to successfully coexist with wildlife in the region
- Promotes the Yellowstone to Yukon region and garners public support for the vision
- Area: 1.3 million square kilometers / 502,000 square miles
- Length: 3,200 kilometers / 1,988 miles
- Width: Varies between 500 to 800 kilometers / 310 to 496 miles
- The region spans five American states, two Canadian provinces, two Canadian territories, and the traditional territories of at least 75 Indigenous groups. It encompasses a wide diversity of ecosystems including alpine, forests, parkland, and grassland.
- Explore our interactive map with our priority regions
No. Y2Y’s vision is that the entire Yellowstone to Yukon region will be managed so that this world-renowned mountain ecosystem and its inhabitants (both wild and human) remain healthy and connected for centuries to come. This does not require the entire region to become a park, only that wild animals are able to travel safely through the lands adjacent to and between parks. Y2Y also wants to ensure that human communities can continue to live sustainably off the land to ensure that future generations can also enjoy this spectacular region.
No — as long as these activities are carried out responsibly, sustainably, and with a minimal negative impact on the wildlife, ecosystems and human communities of the area.
People are an integral part of the region. Y2Y encourages people to participate in responsible recreation activities, and we understand that many communities in the region depend on resource extraction for their livelihood.
We believe the land should be maintained, enjoyed, and its resources utilized responsibly for the well-being of both the human and wild inhabitants of the region.
Many of our board and staff enjoy outdoor recreation in many forms, including hunting and fishing, and believe it is an important way to connect with the land. Read Y2Y’s hunting and fishing policy.
The Yellowstone to Yukon region represents the largest remaining intact mountain ecosystem on earth. It contains some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world and holds a wide variety of wildlife, habitats and human communities and cultures. This region provides the best remaining habitat for North America’s threatened or sensitive species including grizzly bears, wolves, wolverines, lynx and native fish populations.
The vast lands of the Yellowstone to Yukon region will also give animal and plant species some of the space and resources they need to adapt to changing climate conditions. It is one of the few places left in the world with the geographic variety and biological diversity to help organisms adapt to a change of this magnitude.
The earth’s other mountain ecosystems such as the Himalayas, the Andes and the Alps have a long history of human occupation and cultivation, which has irreversibly altered the natural processes of those mountain ecosystems.
As a result, many of the large native mammals and other endemic species have become extinct or are now endangered. Only since the late 1800’s have humans permanently settled in the Rocky Mountains of North America. For this reason, the Rockies have so far escaped the intense development and occupation that has fragmented other mountain ecosystems.
This is why it is so critical to maintain the Yellowstone to Yukon region — it is the best opportunity to preserve one of the world’s remaining intact, ecologically healthy mountain systems.
A partnership with Y2Y is created when an individual or organization collaborates with Y2Y on conservation efforts. Y2Y’s partners include grassroots groups, Indigenous communities and organizations, conservation organizations, land trusts, scientists, government agencies, businesses and others whose efforts support the Y2Y vision.
Learn more about Y2Y’s partners.
The boundary of the Yellowstone to Yukon region has evolved over time. It is based on a combination of scientific understanding of geology, climate, vegetation, wildlife species and human cultures that bind the mountainous spine of the North American continent. It is also based on the experience and education of the scientists and conservationists that have been involved with Y2Y since our founding.
The Y2Y boundary is not a hard boundary, rather it is flexible and based on the circumstances of the issue in question. Since nature is interconnected, it is never possible to say where one ecosystem ends and another begins. So we drew a ‘soft’ boundary from Yellowstone to Yukon to outline the area of interest in which Y2Y and our partners operate. The boundaries of regions of interest and Priority Areas within the Yellowstone to Yukon region can ebb and flow in accordance with specific needs and knowledge.
The core of the Y2Y landscape is the Rocky Mountains, the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountain Trench in British Columbia (B.C.), and at the Liard Plateau in northern B.C. However, because of the strong ecological connection, the boundary has been extended to include the mountains and plateaus of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the rugged Columbia Mountains of eastern B.C. and the Mackenzie Mountains of the North West Territories and the Yukon. These mountains are included because they are geologically and ecologically interconnected with the Rocky Mountains. They exhibit the characteristics of the dry east slope and the moist and productive west slope of interior mountain ranges.
Many scientists recognize the grizzly bear as an ‘umbrella species,’ which means that if we can preserve and maintain well-managed, good-quality grizzly bear habitat, other animals and plants within that habitat will benefit.
Grizzly bears require huge amounts of land to roam in search of food and mates, so their large habitat requirements make them a useful umbrella species to focus conservation efforts on.
The population numbers of grizzly bears are a publicly and scientifically recognized indicator of the health of many ecosystems, so by focusing on grizzlies Y2Y can maintain, and where needed, restore the health of the region for all species within it. Learn more about our big-picture approach.
Large-landscape conservation is simply a form of conservation biology that takes into account the ‘big picture’ of a large, interconnected landscape. This type of conservation is necessary when preserving isolated forests, valleys, wetlands and wilderness areas is simply not enough to account for the needs of wide-ranging animals.
Large-landscape conservation is appropriate for the Yellowstone to Yukon region because conservation needs to occur at the same scale at which wildlife are using the landscape and at which the ecosystems are operating.
In the early 1990’s scientists and wildlife biologists realized that existing national parks and protected areas within the Yellowstone to Yukon region were simply not large enough to contain the seasonal movements of wide-ranging species such as bears, caribou and wolves.
By focusing on Yellowstone to Yukon as a massive, interconnected region, we can ensure animals have the freedom to roam that they require.
Y2Y’s conservation strategies are based in science. Our founders and scientific advisors determined that the most effective approach to conservation in such a massive region would be to implement three large-scale conservation strategies – grizzly bear, avian and aquatic – that work in conjunction with each other. Each of these strategies uses scientific research on wildlife habitat requirements and threats to conservation to create conservation goals. Together, these three strategies ensure that Y2Y is working on conserving the land, air, and water required to ensure this mountain region remains ecologically intact and healthy.
The grizzly bear and avian conservation strategies have designated Priority Areas, which are ecologically important sub-regions within the Yellowstone to Yukon boundary. Scientific research was used to define the priority areas, and their boundaries are continually revised as more scientific research becomes available.
The Yellowstone to Yukon region is simply too large and diverse to tackle as one unit. Covering an area over three times the size of California, the region traverses three different mountain ranges and many distinct ecosystems.
Priority areas are ecologically important sub-regions, each with their own unique values, opportunities and challenges. By dividing the region into Priority Areas, Y2Y can build effective partnerships with agencies and organizations that also focus on those sub-regions.
Each species and priority area within the landscape face their own unique challenges, but there are some issues that affect the entire region:
- Resource extraction projects require access roads, which often cut through critical wildlife habitat and fragment the landscape;
- Mining, logging and oil and gas projects can degrade the land, fragment habitat and contaminate rivers and groundwater;
- Roads and railways, most of which travel east-west, cut through many north-south migration corridors for wildlife, increasing collisions and threatening the safety of humans and wildlife;
- Improper disposal or management of human garbage, fruit trees, pet foods, bird feeders and bee hives attract wildlife, bringing them into towns and decreasing their fear of humans, which can result in destroying or relocating the animal;
- Climate change is affecting the entire region; plant and animal species need a variety of ecosystems and landscapes available to them and the ability to move in response to changing conditions if they are going to successfully adapt to a changing climate.
Your donations will help Y2Y connect and protect Yellowstone to Yukon region in diverse ways, including creating new parks and protected areas, working with multiple partners to build wildlife-friendly highways, helping people live peacefully with wildlife, and healing damaged habitats. Learn more about the difference your donations make.
Through our Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative Foundation we are a registered charity in Canada (#86430 1841 RR0001).
In the U.S., through our Montana Society we are a registered 501 (c)(3) organization in the United States (#81-0535303). Our legal name is Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.
If you have a question that wasn’t answered here, email us at info (at) y2y (dot) net.
Header photo: Shutterstock