Adding to Our Tool Box
By Wendy Francis
Policy is a simple word that stands for the ground rules that are set by government. It determines what lands are protected, where development takes place, and how land uses are managed.
The issues that concern Y2Y, such as the survival of grizzly bears, how to reduce vehicle and wildlife collisions, and how to keep some lands in a wilderness state for the benefit of both people and wildlife, could be more easily addressed if government policies were more favorable.
The Missing Instrument In Our Tool Box
Unfortunately, the policies necessary to achieve large-scale conservation often are not in place. For example, there are very few mechanisms, either in Canada or the U.S., that facilitate the protection of wildlife corridors. That is why some of our allies have suggested that Congress create a national wildlife corridors act so that wildlife linkages can be identified and protected.
A New Focus for Y2Y
Y2Y is increasing its capacity to work at the policy level. There are a number of important proposals in the U.S. that Y2Y could help to advance. Congress, for example, is now considering three new laws relevant to protecting wildlife habitat: the North Fork [Flathead] Watershed Protection Act, the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act, and the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act. If passed, each of these would protect important landscapes within the region.
In Canada, a final land-use plan for southern Alberta is scheduled for release soon. It will determine what lands are protected and how the remainder are used. Its reach is so extensive that it will impact not one but multiple Y2Y campaigns. This is only the first land-use plan of four that will impact the Y2Y region.
A Shift to Big Picture Thinking
Getting the right policies in place is the foundation for conservation success. It is going to take a shift in thinking at the decision-making level that considers the bigger picture, and helping that shift is what we do best.