Educating Decision Makers in Washington, D.C.
Public policy is one of the most important tools to advance conservation. As the ground rules set by government, policy determines what lands are protected, where development takes place, and how land gets used.
In the U.S. portion of the Y2Y region, many public lands are under federal jurisdiction Therefore, having a voice in Washington D.C. is critical to get policies in place that promote conservation. This spring Y2Y added that voice, teaming up with Wildlands Network and Center for Large Landscape Conservation to hire Susan A. Holmes as our new U.S. Connectivity Policy Coordinator.
For the past 25 years Susan has combined her love of advocacy with an expertise in media, government and the workings of Capitol Hill. Now, as Y2Y’s shared U.S. Connectivity Policy Coordinator, she will use her expertise to educate D.C. policymakers about the need to connect wild places and the species that depend on them.
“Hiring Susan will help us forward the Y2Y vision in the U.S.,” says Karsten Heuer, Y2Y President. “We have quite a few tools in the policy toolkit to protect areas but there are no designations for wildlife corridors or connections. Having Susan work on this as a primary focus in D.C. will help fill this policy gap,” adds Karsten.
Timing is Everything
Often policy work takes years - the North Fork Watershed Protection Act, for example, emerged from work that has been ongoing for decades. But the next two years is an important window of opportunity to make real gains for wildlife and wild places as President Obama looks to leave a conservation legacy.
Susan’s primary goal is to advance the idea of landscape connectivity. To that end, Susan will work with Y2Y and its partners to influence current Obama Administration policies, including the Climate Action Plan and U.S. Forest planning, and promote new ones.
Protecting public and private lands within the Yellowstone to Yukon region and the broader Spine of the Continent is also another key objective. Susan is hoping to accomplish this goal through Presidential designation under the Antiquities Act and grants from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
“Washington, D.C. needs to hear the visionary thinking of groups like Y2Y,” says Holmes. “I’m excited to be part of the team and look forward to reporting back the progress made in the near term.”