Your update on Y2Y news

Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative


March 03, 2021

Supporting science to spark change

Your gifts power research that makes a difference.

As a science-based organization, your investment in our work supercharges research that makes a difference on the ground.

For instance, Canada has committed to protecting 30 percent of the country's lands and seas by 2030. But the question is where? A team of scientists, including Y2Y’s conservation scientist, Dr. Aerin Jacob, set out to provide the answers.

Their groundbreaking research identifies and maps out the main benefits people get from nature: carbon storage for climate regulation, fresh water and nature-based recreation.

By putting these ecosystem services on the map, they found that some of the most critical areas where people benefit from nature aren't in currently protected areas.

This shows how science can help fill knowledge gaps about nature and our relationship with it — a tool for prompting meaningful conservation action in this region.

When you give to Y2Y, you are also a catalyst for positive change. You help push forward pivotal research like this to enable smarter decisions that will safeguard nature and benefit people far into the future.

Kai Chan, professor at the University of British Columbia and co-author on this study, is now also a monthly donor to Y2Y.

"I'm strongly motivated by helping to inspire change at every level,” says Kai, explaining what drove him to donate. "Living in B.C., my appreciation of these natural landscapes and work as a conservation scientist connect me to Y2Y’s mission. It's so important to have place-based initiatives that are also protecting whole landscapes."

What inspires you to support the science? No matter how you answer, know that your contributions are creating long-term conservation impact.

Person standing in a forest at sunrise

Focusing on the good in 2021

An update from the U.S. program

It's been a challenging year, and people around the world are craving signs of hope and possibility. We know this is certainly true for many of our friends, partners, colleagues, and you, our cherished supporters, as we have collectively navigated rough waters in 2020 and seen growing pressure on our shared environment.

Looking to the southern part of this region, here are just a few good-news updates that give us hope for what can be accomplished together for people and nature this year:

  • The U.S. rejoined the Paris climate agreement and committed to conserving 30 percent of lands and waters by 2030.
  • Moves to open oil and gas leases in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — critical for caribou migration and Gwich'in First Nations — have been blocked for now as permanent protections are sought, thanks to the advocacy of Y2Y partners, Indigenous Peoples, and folks like you.
  • In the fourth year of its implementation, Secretarial Order 3362 continues to enable improvements for ungulate habitat and migration corridors in the west.
  • The Great American Outdoors Act, which also funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund, still holds. This bill gained overwhelming bipartisan support in 2020 and will support important conservation projects in the U.S. portion of the Yellowstone-to-Yukon region.

Conservation is a transboundary effort — that's why we work with hundreds of partners from Yellowstone in the U.S. up to the Yukon Territory in Canada.

At the end of the day, our common ground lies in this truth: we all need nature, and nature needs our help.

Because you have continued to support Y2Y during turbulent times and showed you care about nature with your voice and your vote, conservation progressed. Thank you for keeping hope alive.

— Jessie Grossman, Y2Y’s U.S. program manager

Close-up of a young moose looking to the right with light snow falling

Videos to watch this weekend and cure at-home boredom

See your support, in action, in these new videos about Y2Y’s work in Idaho, British Columbia and Alberta.

B.C.'s Upper Columbia region

Follow along on a journey through B.C.'s Upper Columbia region — a special place for wildlife and people alike. Through this five-part video series, see how you are part of the solution to safeguard this region for years to come. Watch now

Banff bison: free and thriving

After over a century of absence, the return of wild plains bison to Banff National Park in Alberta is a historic, ecological and cultural triumph. See how they are doing after two years in this stunning video from our partners at Parks Canada. Watch now.

Room to Roam: road ecology in Idaho

How are you helping give wildlife room to roam in Idaho? Look no further than our new video series! From fish to elk, four videos highlight transportation projects that have successfully helped wildlife and motorists stay safe and keep moving. Watch now.

Three bull trout, a threatened fish species in Alberta, swimming underwater

Coal mines in Alberta could have far-reaching impacts

Despite challenges, you are sparking change for our shared planet.

Alberta's Eastern Slopes, an area of approximately 34,749 square miles (90,000 square kilometers) of forest-covered mountains and foothills, has the highest percentage of protected lands in the entire Yellowstone-to-Yukon region. The region's headwaters provide 90 percent of Alberta's drinking water, and its iconic mountain landscapes are where we find rejuvenation. They also provide habitat and connectivity for threatened wildlife species.

The Eastern Slopes were put at risk when the government revoked the 1976 Coal Policy in June 2020 without consulting Albertans. This is a serious concern for wildlife, habitat connectivity, water, and people – not just in Alberta, but for those in neighboring provinces.

"Dams, invasive species, irrigation withdrawals, and dirt logging and motorized recreation roads have long been some of the biggest issues facing threatened fish species and other wildlife in this region," says Rob Buffler, angler and restoration ecologist who has worked extensively on land and watershed conservation efforts in the Yellowstone-to-Yukon region for over two decades.

"The threat of coal mines in vital habitat is another layer that inevitably will have both short- and long-term impacts."

Thankfully, tens of thousands of people like you have spoken out against this shortsighted action. This resulted in the government's recent reinstatement of the Coal Policy, and a commitment to consult the public before changing the policy.

However, with over 1,000 coal leases and lease applications still active, future coal mines are still a possibility in many parts of Alberta and the Eastern Slopes.

We will continue to hold decision-makers accountable for land-use planning and comprehensive consultation with First Nations and other Albertans, and to campaign for no surface mining exploration or development in our headwaters.

Your donations and your voice are what keep the work going to safeguard these special places.

Aerial view of a river landscape in northern B.C. at sunset

Nurturing a commitment to land-based reconciliation

Entering "Ethical Space" dialogue is a key path forward for conservation. You are helping make these important conversations common practice.

The social, cultural, legal and policy landscape is changing rapidly as relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada evolve. We are all called upon to explore what reconciliation means to us individually and for our organizations, communities, economies, laws and governance structures.

Reconciliation with the land is an essential part of the equation. Decision-making on land-use is often based in policy, but for many Indigenous Peoples, it is rooted in what the Earth tells us. Understanding one another's perspectives is critical as we try to advance meaningful conservation.

In 2020, Y2Y hosted three workshops to explore Ethical Space — a process that brings Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together to build mutual understanding through listening and dialogue. The sessions looked at how we can all work together to create and sustain prosperous communities and healthy landscapes in southeastern B.C.

"It's really about rethinking the way we view the world and make decisions about the land,” says Nadine Raynolds, Y2Y's Upper Columbia program manager. "It was clear that people are ready to make a change and learn about entering Ethical Space in their own work."

Almost 200 people from provincial and municipal governments, nonprofits, businesses, academia and Indigenous communities joined in. Non-Indigenous folks recounted the experience as "thought-provoking", and especially enjoyed learning from the Indigenous experts through the power of storytelling.

Made possible with your support, these workshops are the first of their kind in southeastern B.C. and are an important catalyst for positive change, learning and growth.

Our next series of workshops are underway. We'd love to see you online and learn with you!

 A remote camera capture showing a grizzly bear sow and one cub in the snow, at one of Idaho Fish and Game's collared female grizzly bear den sites, where they are monitoring reproduction

'Bear'ing good news for people and grizzly bears in Montana and Idaho

Our partners make our world go 'round, and you are a big reason why we can continue to work with others on the ground! Enjoy these partner stories from 2020 that are pivotal in keeping grizzly bears and other wildlife connected and protected:

Win-win for campers and grizzly bears

People in Montana can more easily prepare to share space with grizzly bears in places where these iconic creatures have long been absent. Y2Y and the Bureau of Land Management worked together to install bear-proof food storage lockers in campsites along the Big Hole River. By storing food where bears can't access it, campers can enjoy time outdoors safely; and with less reason to go near people, bears have a better chance at staying wild.

Grizzly bear educator for better coexistence

Gearing up for a busy summer in Idaho's wild places, Idaho Fish and Game hired a grizzly bear educator in the Upper Snake Region with Y2Y’s support. The educator helped people learn how to prevent encounters with grizzly bears, removed attractants, created a local email chain with helpful conflict prevention information, and electrified dumpsters to keep bears out of trash. These efforts are an important piece of the long-term solution for healthy grizzly bear populations, and ensuring safe adventures for people.

Wild River project, completed!

In December 2020, Y2Y and Vital Ground finalized the last land purchase in its Wild River corridor project — now covering more than 125 contiguous acres along the Kootenai River. With more people moving west and a higher competition for private lands, this is a huge win! By purchasing key land parcels from willing landowners in this crucial movement corridor, grizzly bear populations can stay better connected.

Consistent and generous support is vital in helping us respond when these opportunities arise. Thank you!

Photo of one of Y2Y's 2020 Sarah Baker Memorial Grant recipients, Christopher Morgan

Weaving western science and Indigenous values, priorities and perspectives

Meet Master's student Christopher Morgan, one of Y2Y’s 2020 Sarah Baker Memorial Fund recipients!

Chris' research is within the territory of and in collaboration with the Tsay Keh Dene Nation, nestled in B.C.'s Rocky Mountain Trench and part of the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area — an important northern anchor in the Yellowstone-to-Yukon region.

The project takes a holistic approach to assessing a landscape to identify which places hold the greatest conservation value. This will involve mapping features, such as habitat for key wildlife species and cool safe havens from climate change, into a conservation planning tool. Alongside this data, the community’s values and priorities are equally critical for identifying potential areas for conservation within the planning tool.

"By considering how climate change may affect this landscape moving forward, it is my hope that this work helps the Nation feel more prepared to make land-use decisions that support biodiversity and the community's needs into the future," says Chris.


The Sarah Baker Memorial Fund supports important scientific work conducted by early-career researchers in the Yellowstone-to-Yukon region. Created by her extended family, the fund honors Sarah's appreciation for the natural world and ability to find solutions.

If you are interested in discussing how you too could make a long-term impact through a planned gift that helps people and nature thrive, please contact us at [email protected].

In memoriam: Allan Baker

We are sad to share the news that long-time Y2Y supporter Allan Baker passed away on Feb. 22, 2021. In addition to being the reason the Sarah Baker Memorial Fund exists, Allan was a champion for wilderness, wildlife and conservation in the Bow Valley and beyond. He will be missed by family and friends as well as Y2Y staff and board members. We are grateful for his contributions and his informative, friendly visits to our head office. 

Photo credits — 
Banner: Nicolas Dory Photography
Inset photos: National Park Service/ Jacob W. Frank; Shutterstock; "Bull Trout Underwater" by Joel Sartore/ National Geographic and Wade Fredenberg/ USFWS; David Moskowitz; Idaho Fish and Game; Christopher Morgan