Hiking in the Yukon. Image: Pat Morrow
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"I left inspired to protect the special places in my own backyard."
Sara Renner, Y2Y supporter

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Stephen Legault: Expanding His Reach

A fixture with Y2Y since 1997, Stephen Legault will now lead projects in the Northwest Territories and Alberta, including the Crown the Continent region where he has been coordinating efforts for the last five years.

To improve wildlife connectivity over large landscapes, you have to focus on all scales—from tiny tracts of private land right up to continental ecosystems.

Take a look at the long-term conservation efforts of Stephen Legault—Y2Y’s incoming Program Director for Alberta, the Northwest Territories, and the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem—and you get a perfect example of how to do it right.

Through 25 years of conservation campaigning, Stephen has conserved more than 1 million acres (400,000 hectares) of protected areas in Alberta, including Bow Valley and Bluerock wildlands, and Spray Valley and Sheep River parks—all part of the province’s stunning Kananaskis region.

“Kananaskis will always remain close to my heart,” says Legault, who is currently working on a book of photography about Alberta’s Eastern Slopes and Rocky Mountain Front, which will celebrate the region’s unique culture and ecology. While those initiatives had Stephen concentrating on conserving at the local and regional scale, his sights are set on the bigger picture as well.

Stephen takes a chilly rest on Tent Ridge in Alberta's Kananaskis Country.

Since 2010, Stephen has been coordinating efforts of the Crown Conservation Initiative (CCI)—a collaborative effort to connect and protect the internationally significant Crown of the Continent Ecosystem.

Protecting the Crown, which encompasses Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, will go a long way toward maintaining wildlife connectivity for wide-ranging animals, such as grizzly bears and wolverines, moving between the U.S. and Canada.

Stephen’s work in the Crown has advanced protections for some of the most ecologically important mountain landscapes in North America, including Montana’s Badger-Two Medicine Region and Alberta’s Castle Watershed. “Helping local residents in Crowsnest Pass, Pincher Creek and elsewhere protect the Castle has been one of the highlights of my career in conservation,” he says, adding that he feels the same way about supporting the Blackfeet Nation and other local communities in their efforts to protect Badger-Two Medicine.

Although he will still focus on the Crown, Stephen is excited to “jump” a level in scale to cover all of Alberta’s mountainous terrain and beyond. He’s also looking forward to meeting with First Nations leaders and other community members in the Northwest Territories to discuss their conservation priorities.

“From day one, I’ve been captivated by sweeping nature of the Yellowstone to Yukon vision,” says Legault, who served on Y2Y’s first board of directors and chaired Y2Y’s inaugural conference in 1997. “Y2Y is a truly inspiring conservation vision for the world. I am humbled by the opportunity to work with an amazing trans-border team to implement this vision in the Crown of the Continent, in Alberta and in Canada’s magnificent north.”

Stephen will join Candace Batycki, who will lead conservation efforts on the west side of Canada’s Rockies—the Yukon Territory and British Columbia, including the Flathead River Valley that extends into Montana. Both Canadian Program Directors will officially begin their new roles on December 1.

Once Stephen settles into his new role, you can reach him at stephen@y2y.net.

Stephen catching his breath after a long trek in Alberta's Kananskis Country.
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