Animals Have Rights

The Wildlands Project

Anybody who loves animals will be interested in this visionary project that will protect North America's wildlife. It is called the WILDLANDS PROJECT and it is about the creation of safe corridors for animals throughout the continent. There are four proposed corridors (wildways) three of them running North-South and one going East-West.

What is envisioned is an Eastern Wildway passing through the Appalachians, a mid-continental corridor running through the Rocky Mountains, an Arctic-Boreal corridor running through much of Alaska and Canada and a Pacific Wildway traversing the Sierra Nevada and Cascades.

Here is a map showing the corridors that we are creating:

wildways map

It is not accidental that the three North-South corridors run along the main mountain ranges in North America. This is where the majority of large wild animals still live and where the human population is thinnest. It is along these corridors that we will protect the animals by giving them the ability to travel in safety.

The current patchwork of unconnected parks does not allow the animals to seasonally migrate to find mates and preserve genetic diversity. Nor does it allow them to respond to the challenge of climate change which is necessitating mass migrations to new habitat and adding urgency to this essential project.

What we presently have are scattered parks and wilderness areas but they are not connected or, if they are, the connections are too narrow to serve as passage ways. Because of this, many hazards confront the animals as they travel between places where they can find sanctuary. There are freeways and busy highways as well as fences and areas cleared for logging or development. There are impassable walls at the Mexican border. How are the animals to navigate all these dangers?

Wildways would provide safe passageway by providing continuous protected wildlands. These will be made up of national parks, state parks, wilderness areas, land trusts, and conservation easements from private landowners who care about the environment.

The greatest innovation of this project is the realization that the animals need a continuous, connected safe passage. Protected areas have to connect or they can't serve as corridors. We can also assist the animals by creating spaced wildlife overpasses or underpasses across the major highways. Such overpasses already exist in Canada and Europe and they are beautiful! The following links will show you such overpasses:

Alberta Story Wildlife Crossing In Banff Animal Overpasses In Banff National Park Proven To Work

What are the practical implications of this for those of us who love animals and want to protect wildlife?

First, we need to make our legislators aware of the Wildlands Project so they will know that there is an overall plan, a vision.

Third, we will have to redefine "multi-use". This is a contentious subject in the management of state and national parks. We will need to define "multi-use" along the corridors in a way that is animal friendly. Park signs often say "land of many uses" but what does that mean? Is hunting allowed in the park? Snowmobiling? Fishing? All Terrain vehicles? Mining? Logging?

Fourth, we can speak to others about this project and suggest it to students and teachers as an important subject for school presentations.

In all of the years that I have done environmental work I have never been so excited about a project because this is a large bore answer to a large scale problem. The Wildlands Project is not a timid answer. It is multi-generational and it is worth doing, for us, for the generations to follow and most of all for the animals themselves. They don't want much - just the ability to live in peace.

Here is a link that will give you more information on the Wildways and the Wildlands Network that is working to create them: - Larry