Southwest Conservation Initiatives -- Western Wildway Programs
While Wildlands Network acts as convener and coordinator of the Spine of the Continent Initiative, its Southwest Field Office is also supporting implementation of several other conservation initiatives in Arizona, New Mexico (U.S.) and in Sonora, and Chihuahua (Mexico):
Highway Safe Passage
Wildlands Network is a founding member and continuing participant in the Arizona Wildlife Linkage Working Group, which developed the first comprehensive state-wide wildlife linkage map showing key highway/wildlife intersections in need of wildlife crossing structures. We will also consult with the New Mexico Priority Wildlife Linkages Coalition in designing a similar state-wide linkage map.
Cross-Border Corridor Protection
Wildlands Network has been a leader in the effort to raise awareness of wildlife corridors fragmentation resulting from the construction of security infrastructure along the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona and New Mexico. Wildlands Network and its partners have organized and convened several Border Ecological Symposiums that have brought together a broad range of stakeholders. Together, we have also acted as a founding sponsor of the Without Walls coalition, developed detailed recommendations for placement of security infrastructure, identified cross-border wildlife corridors, and promoted legislation to halt federal exemptions to environmental laws that have allowed wall construction to proceed without public input or review under the National Environmental Policy Act.
Private Lands Protection
WN is continuing its efforts to provide private landowners owning properties within the Sky Islands and New Mexico Highlands regions with income-producing alternatives and opportunities that allow landowners to protect the ecological values of their properties. Private Lands Conservation Workshops that bring together landowners with agencies, land trusts, governments, and other sources of assistance, along with informational publications and coalition-building among private lands advocacy organizations are a few of the components of this initiative.
Sky Islands Connectivity
The iconic “Sky Islands” mountain ranges in southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and northern Mexico are essential as the southern connection for the Spine of the Continent Initiative. Without continuous wildlife linkages between the southern Rocky Mountains and the Sky Islands, one of the most critical components in the Spine of the Continent will be lost. Wildlands Network is focused on this connection, particularly the wildlife conduits-- the Peloncillo and Chiricahua mountain ranges. We also are working with numerous partners to raise awareness of the area’s ecological value with local residents, elected officials, planners, and agencies. Of primary concern are threats to connectivity posed by loss of roadless areas, overgrazing, border security infrastructure, subdivisions, and “green” energy corridors.
While protecting habitats and the wildlife corridors that connect them is a primary goal of the Wildlands Network, several endangered species in Sky Islands region are faced with unparalleled threats to survival. Wildlands Network has dedicated many resources over the past decade to ensuring that these native species will persist into the distant future. We helped our partner, Naturalia, secure 70 square miles of private lands in Sonora for a first-of-its-kind jaguar reserve, mapping cross-border jaguar corridors, protecting seven thousand acres for Thick-billed Parrot habitat in Chihuahua via an innovative conservation lease, advocating for a new, science-based recovery plan for the reintroduced Mexican gray wolf in New Mexico and Arizona and for critical habitat designation and a recovery plan for the jaguar in U.S.-Mexico borderlands.
Public Advocacy and Communications
Wildlands Network places top priority on inspiring the public toward advocacy for protecting wildlife connectivity over large landscapes as the means to averting the impending loss of countless native species. We present at numerous events, conferences, workshops, and other gatherings, and conduct media interviews and tours as a key tactic in this communications effort.
For more information on our Western Wildway programs, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.