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A Look At The Yukon To Yellowstone (Y2Y) Initiative

In March of 1872, over 2 million acres of wilderness in the American Northwest became the world’s first national park when President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act into law. Today, Yellowstone is one of the 63 total national parks in the United States, all of which are protected by the US government.


Despite legislation in place to protect such areas from interference, Yellowstone’s ecosystems face a number of threats caused by human development on both local and global scales. Ranging from the extraction of natural resources within the park to the long-term effects of global warming on the surrounding areas, the flora and fauna of Yellowstone National Park are facing unprecedented challenges to an already hostile fight for survival in the harsh mountain wilderness. 


The Yukon to Yellowstone (Y2Y) Initiative began in 1993 as a joint Canada-US non-profit organization, with a collection of goals dedicated to “securing the long-term ecological health of this entire region.” Y2Y recognizes the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, including Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park and additional surrounding areas, as the southernmost of 11 priority areas for the focus of their efforts.


With many overlapping goals and projects, Y2Y defines its initiative as an ongoing effort to maintain an “interconnected system of wild lands and waters stretching from Yellowstone to Yukon,” making it one of the world’s largest connectivity projects spread around 3,400 kilometres. 


Spanning five US states and two Canadian provinces, the Y2Y Initiative involves territories belonging to at least 75 Indigenous groups, including several regions with little to no conservation laws in place. 


This area also includes potential mining regions for alternative fuel sources and metals in the form of cobalt. By working with over 450 partner groups, Y2Y works to balance community needs with conservation efforts while ensuring a safe, consistent migration route for all migratory species. 


The purpose of maintaining a connection across these areas is to ensure a stable migration corridor for elk, mule deer, pronghorn, and other migratory species that travel North in the spring. As global warming makes regions increasingly hotter each summer, species must travel further north into Yukon to settle, making the conservation of the route critical.


Without areas of refuge along the route, such as the grasslands of Idaho’s High Divide, populations of certain species become separated from one another, forcing inbreeding and threatening endangerment.


Some current Y2Y projects include reconnecting populations of varying species, improving highway and road safety for wildlife, and restoring wetland ecosystems. Of course, all efforts require support from local communities and governing bodies, so Y2Y works tirelessly to increase public interest in conservation. 


Although they recognize their initiative is bold, Y2Y has already increased the number of protected areas within this region by 80% and established more than 100 wildlife connectivity passages, in addition to sparking conversation for decades. 


With multiple projects in the works, there are many ways to get involved in Y2Y’s conservation initiative, from their safer roads project to their Bears to Bees climate adaptation project. Whether speaking out against highway expansion or building seasonal ponds to help cool the ecosystem, on-the-ground activism is a leading weapon in Y2Y’s arsonry. To learn more about any of these projects, visit the Y2Y website.

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Tags: #environment #migration #coal #conservation #grizzly #YukontoYellowstoneInitiative #mining #bear


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