“The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act would provide the most the most important step of any single piece of legislation at the present time in enlarging the nations protected areas and thereby saving large swaths of America’s wildlife and other fauna and flora, especially in this critical time of climate change and shifting locations of the original environments in which a large part of biodiversity has existed.—E.O. Wilson”
Earlier this month U.S. Rep. Don Beyer introduced the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act, which will protect and restore native wildlife and create more resilient landscapes across America. The bill will allow federal agencies to allocate funds to establish wildlife corridors, as well as create a national database to prioritize corridor development. Rep. Don Beyer has worked on the bill for over a year, consulting with many leading scientists, including E.O. Wilson, his “personal hero.”
Each winter, the pronghorn makes a grueling 150 mile migration from Wyoming’s Upper Green River Basin to Grand Teton National Park. This migration is important to their survival, without it they would not be able to find feeding grounds to get them through such harsh winters. Unfortunately, many of our roads, fences, and cities block pronghorn from making this critical migration and consequently, this species’s future remains uncertain. Photo credit: T. Butcher
December 6, 2016
The Honorable Don Beyer
431 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Re: The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act of 2016
Dear Representative Beyer,
On behalf of our millions of members and supporters nationwide, we write to express our strong support for the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act of 2016. We thank you for your leadership on this important legislation that will help protect and restore America’s native wildlife and create more resilient landscapes.
The United States is a world leader in efforts to conserve wildlife through a robust network of public lands and waters that includes national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests and other conservation areas, yet wildlife populations continue to decline. Scientists estimate that one in five animal and plant species in the United States are at risk of extinction (fn1), largely as a result of habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation. Linking habitat through connective corridors is critical for sustaining biodiversity, ecosystem function and robust populations into the future. Corridors increase wildlife movement between habitat areas by approximately 50 percent compared to areas not connected by corridors. As species adapt to rapidly changing conditions, including the impacts of climate change, we must take steps to facilitate their ability to travel between existing habitat cores to increase breeding success, genetic diversity and access to food and shelter.
The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act establishes a National Wildlife Corridors System that provides a framework to ensure that fish, wildlife and plants are able to move between habitats for migration, dispersal, genetic exchange and climate adaptation. The bill directs federal land and water management agencies to collaborate with each other, as well as with States, tribes, local governments, and private landowners, to develop and manage national wildlife corridors consistent with existing laws and according to the habitat connectivity needs of native species. The bill also creates a publicly available National Native Species Habitats and Corridors GIS Database to inform corridor designation. Establishing a National Wildlife Corridors System is a critical step forward in protecting and restoring fish, wildlife, and plant species populations across our nation’s lands and waters.
The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act will also improve recreational opportunities for constituents who hunt, fish and observe nature, increasing economic revenue for local economies. In 2011, hunters spent $34 billion, anglers spent $41.8 billion, and wildlife watchers spent $55 billion nationally. It will also improve human and wildlife road safety by mitigating wildlife collisions. Estimated costs for wildlife vehicle collisions are more than $8 billion dollars per year in the United States (fn2).
Increasingly, wildlife corridor protection has bipartisan support around the country. In 2007, the Western Governors’ Association approved a resolution that established a Corridor Protection Initiative (fn3), issued an extensive Wildlife Corridors Initiative report (fn4), and approved the Protecting Wildlife Migration Corridors and Crucial Wildlife Habitat in the West policy resolution (fn5). In 2016, the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers passed a resolution recognizing the importance of ecological connectivity for the adaptability and resilience of their region’s ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities in the face of climate change (fn6).
Federal agencies and states are also beginning to work together to protect wildlife corridors. In 2008, the U.S. Forest Service, working with the state of Wyoming, private landowners, sportsmen and conservation organizations, established the nation’s first federally designated wildlife corridor to protect a centuries old migration route for pronghorn that connects their summer range in Grand Teton National Park with their winter range far to the south in Wyoming’s Green River Valley. Today, the Path of the Pronghorn conserves one of the longest remaining terrestrial mammal migration corridors in North America.
Many of America’s most treasured wildlife, including the Florida panther, bighorn sheep, the monarch butterfly, bull trout and dozens of salmon runs are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation. Just as people need roads and highways to travel from one place to another, fish, wildlife and even plants also need corridors connecting natural communities. The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act will provide key tools for conserving our nation’s wildlife and natural heritage for future generations.
Elizabethtown, New York
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve
Niskayuna, New York
Adirondack Wildlife Refuge & Rehabilitation Center
Wilmington, New York
Adirondacks to Algonquin Collaborative
Wellesley Island, NY
Alliance for the Great Lakes
Blue Ridge Land Conservancy
California Invasive Plant Council
Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Large Landscape Conservation
Clark Fork Coalition
Cold Hollow to Canada
Montgomery Center, Vermont
Conservation Ecology LLC
Hendersonville, North Carolina
Conservation Science Partners
Fort Collins, Colorado
Cougar Rewilding Foundation
Hanover, West Virginia
Defenders of Wildlife
Downeast Salmon Federation
Columbia Falls, Maine
E.O Wilson Biodiversity Foundation
Endangered Species Coalition
Environmental Protection Information Center
Florida Wildlife Corridor
Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf & Wildlife
Greater Yellowstone Coalition
Harris Center for Conservation Education
Hancock, New Hampshire
Hells Canyon Preservation Council
Le Grande, Oregon
Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust
Idaho Conservation League
Long Branch Environmental Education Center
Leicester, North Carolina
Los Padres ForestWatch
Santa Barbara, California
Kentucky Natural Lands Trust
Klamath Forest Alliance
League of Humane Voters – Wisconsin Chapter
Star Prairie, Wisconsin
Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust
National Parks and Conservation Association
Northcoast Environmental Center
Northwest Sport Fishing Industry Association
Oregon City, Oregon
Open Space Institute
New York, New York
Radnor to River
Red Wolf Coalition
Columbia, North Carolina
Rocky Mountain Wild
Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition
South Florida Wildlands Association
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The Rewilding Institute
Albuquerque, New Mexico
The Wilderness Society
Turtle Island Restoration Network
Two Countries One Forest
Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition
Vermont Natural Resources Council
Western Environmental Law Center
Western Watersheds Project
Wild Earth Guardians
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Wild Farm Alliance
Asheville, North Carolina
Winter Wildlands Alliance
Wolf Haven International
Wyoming Outdoor Council
Yellowstone to Uintas Connection
Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative
(fn1) Chivian, E. and A. Bernstein (eds.) 2008. Sustaining life: How human health depends on biodiversity. Center for Health and the Global Environment. Oxford University Press, New York.
(fn2) See https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/08034/03.cfm.
(fn3) See https://www.westgov.org/wildlife-corridors-and-crucial-habitat.
(fn4) See http://www.westgov.org/images/dmdocuments/wildlife08.pdf.
(fn5) See https://www.blm.gov/style/medialib/blm/wy/information/NEPA/pfodocs/anticline/revdr-comments/ eg.Par.89268.File.dat/02Bio-attach14.pdf.
(fn6) See http://www.coneg.org/Data/Sites/1/media/40-3-ecological-connectivity-en.pdf.
Text of the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act Bill
“Wildlife Corridors Act” Page on the Wildlands Network Website
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