Protected Areas & Public Lands
Y2Y IDENTIFIES core habitat under risk of development and finds ways to PROTECT it.
Protected areas, such as national, state and provincial parks, managed to support wildlife and ecosystems are critical to maintain healthy ecosystems throughout the Yellowstone to Yukon region. Unfortunately, large sections of habitat on which wildlife depend to survive remain unprotected and vulnerable to development.Approximately 20 per cent of the entire Yellowstone to Yukon region is private or tribal land. The rest of the landscape is most often owned by the federal government in the U.S. and by the provinces or territories in Canada. Despite these ownership levels, only some 20 per cent of the entire Yellowstone to Yukon landscape is protected in parks, wilderness or private conservancies.
Most public land is open to multiple uses, including mining, drilling, forest harvesting, energy development and associated infrastructure such as roads and pipelines. Public motorized access adds to the cumulative impact on wildlife, ecosystems and our ability to deal with a changing climate. Additionally, few lands – protected or not – are managed to prioritize wildlife’s need to use and move through that landscape. This jeopardizes continental connectivity.
OPPORTUNITYThere are a number of key unprotected core habitats that have been identified as strategically valuable for supporting wildlife and critical ecosystems. Many, like Yukon’s Peel Watershed or British Columbia’s (B.C.) Flathead River Valley, remain untouched, with low populations and few roads. Keeping these places wild is vital for the future of hundreds of species. Additionally, many governments are engaged in land-use planning processes that open the door to improved management to support wildlife connectivity.
WHAT Y2Y IS DOING
Y2Y is leading, partnering and supporting our partners to gain additional protection for a number of strategically valuable landscapes in the Yellowstone to Yukon region.
GOALS & CURRENT PROJECTS
Peel Watershed: Seven times larger than Yellowstone or Jasper national park, Y2Y is supporting our partners to protect 80 per cent of the Yukon’s Peel Watershed.
Alberta Headwaters: Y2Y is leading an initiative to ensure that Alberta’s land-use plans, which will determine the area’s land use for the next 50 years, protect Alberta’s headwaters.
Flathead Wild: As one of the last unsettled valleys in southern Canada, Y2Y aims to secure a national park in the upper Flathead River Valley of B.C. and a Wildlife Management zone that connects two protected areas.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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On January 20, the Alberta Government announced a management plan for the new Castle Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park in Southern Alberta, a plan Y2Y welcomed.
“The first call to protect this land came in the late 1970s,” says Stephen Legault, Y2Y’s program director for Crown, Alberta and Northwest Territories.
On the border between northern Idaho and western Montana exists a special place.
Recently a historic change occurred in Canada’s Yukon Territory, one that promises to protect one of North America’s most ecologically important and pristine landscapes, the Peel Watershed.
In this oped for the Calgary Herald, Y2Y's Stephen Legault says Albertans must persevere to protect the Castle.