The ecological connectivity of marine and coastal ecosystems is essential. It requires linkages that connect our oceans' critical habitats, species, and natural processes. These connections allow a variety of species to move and they also sustain important ecosystem functions such as fish larvae dispersal, nutrient cycling, and carbon sequestration—the ocean's ability to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to slow climate change. To inform conservation efforts that maintain, enhance, and restore ecological connectivity of the oceans, a new publication was released today titled "Marine Connectivity Conservation ‘Rules of Thumb’ for MPA and MPA Network Design."
The Center for Large Landscape Conservation is looking for a new team member to fill the position of Chief Operating Officer (COO). The Center is growing, and we are seeking an experienced COO to oversee the organization’s business operations to ensure we are positioned for continued growth and effective delivery of our conservation mission.
Roads can have many negative impacts on our natural world. Road ecologists study both the effects of roads on wildlife—such as roadkill and habitat fragmentation—and how to reduce these impacts. However, road ecologists can’t identify problem areas or develop solutions without a strong baseline of information on where and when animals attempt to cross roads or are struck by vehicles. Fortunately, new technology has created an opportunity for the public to help collect this data, and the Center is making this tool widely available.
It is estimated that fewer than 52,000 Asian elephants remain in the wild. Currently listed as “endangered” on the IUCN Red List, Asian elephants thrive when they have the freedom to follow their traditional movement routes to access food, water, and mates. However, herds across South and Southeast Asia are declining due to habitat loss and fragmentation, which prevent them from meeting their life cycle needs. In response, the Center is supporting the work of infrastructure ecologists and elephant biologists to help maintain the ability of elephants to move across landscapes.
The Little Rocky Mountains in Montana form an island range in a sea of prairie. As a result of their isolation, they are home to plant and wildlife species that are not found anywhere nearby, leaving them especially vulnerable to climate change impacts. In the shadow of the Little Rockies, the Aaniiih and Nakoda peoples of the Fort Belknap Indian Community are taking a bold stand to protect this mountain ecosystem to help preserve their traditional ways of life. The Center is supporting this effort by assisting them in restoring forest health and planning for a rapidly changing climate.
We are pleased to feature one of our valued partners: The Salazar Center for North American Conservation, founded in 2018 at Colorado State University. The Salazar Center supports and advances the health and connectivity of the natural systems and human communities of North America. Their intersectional approach builds bridges that connect academic research, community practice, and policy development, with a focus on both large landscapes and urban environments.
Marking a significant step for wildlife conservation, the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act along with $400 million for projects to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, passed the United States House of Representatives as part of H.R. 3684, the INVEST in America Act. These important provisions will safeguard biodiversity while helping stimulate the U.S. economy, mitigate climate impacts, and reduce highway fatalities.
Colorado residents and millions of annual visitors alike enjoy the state’s dramatic landscapes, abundant recreation opportunities, and iconic wildlife. So it’s not surprising that Colorado recently became the latest state to pass legislation to safeguard habitat connectivity and wildlife corridors, which are essential for healthy ecosystems. Protecting the ability of wildlife to move freely across the landscape is a win-win-win: it allows animals to meet their needs, enhances driver safety, and supports recreation opportunities for hunters, anglers, and wildlife viewers.
Wildlife-vehicle collisions take a toll on our environment and society in many ways. They endanger wildlife populations, cause human injuries and deaths, and cost US taxpayers billions of dollars a year. Well-designed wildlife road-crossing structures are a proven solution but are not without challenges. Two reports recently published by the US Forest Service—with contributions from Center for Large Landscape Conservation staff—address these challenges while providing useful information on costs, benefits, and planning of crossing structures.
Gerald Wagner is the Director of the Blackfeet Environmental Program and Director of Blackfeet Nation’s Drinking Water, Wastewater, and Solid Waste Program. We sat down with Gerald to discuss the insights he’s gained from his extensive work in conservation and his advice for conservation groups who want to partner with Tribal Nations and Indigenous Peoples.