A mix of positive conservation stories from the Y2Y region
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Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative


February 22, 2023

You are fostering positive change for people and nature right now in the Yellowstone to Yukon region (and beyond!) Keep reading to see how.

A person sitting on a fallen tree looks out into a forest filled with tall, green trees. The sun pokes through in the distance.

Making a big deal about biodiversity

Y2Y's role in global conservation and how you can help

Would you believe us if we told you that by supporting Y2Y, you are helping save biodiversity — not just here in the Yellowstone to Yukon region, but around the globe? It's true!

Because of the long-standing support of donors and funders, Y2Y played a precision role in shaping the newest global commitment to bring back biodiversity by 2030: the Kunming-Montreal Agreement signed at the 15th Conference of the Parties in December 2022.

The targets in this agreement are right in line with Y2Y's bold mission to connect and protect wildlife habitats so people and nature thrive. But this didn’t happen by chance.

Our team of experts has worked for 30 years to promote the importance of wildlife corridors.

For instance, we have advanced key science and knowledge to get governments to commit to large-scale conservation.

Since 2017, Y2Y has supported the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Beyond Aichi Committee to advance global conservation goals. The committee's work ultimately supported the creation of the 30 by 30 target: protect 30 percent of lands and oceans globally by 2030.

Y2Y also led the writing of the first-ever international guidelines for conserving ecological corridors, published in July 2020 to guide countries. This is key because the new biodiversity agreement mentions the importance of connectivity in four different places.

Now, we continue to focus efforts on supporting Indigenous nations in achieving their conservation goals, which also align with the globally approved biodiversity framework. This work includes Indigenous protected areas and other initiatives.

We have never seen better alignment between global and local goals for protecting biodiversity. The hard work continues, and we're thankful people like you have been there all along. Want to help keep the momentum? Here's one thing you can do right now.

A grizzly bear sow walks along a rocky cliff with a foggy, snowy forested mountain valley below. Two small bear cubs follow closely.

Grizzly bears making a comeback in the Bitterroot

You are part of the community reconnecting grizzly bears

What were you doing during the summer of 2022?

Whether or not you knew it at the time, you were helping grizzly bears access the Bitterroot Valley — a large block of great habitat that is key to the goal of a healthy, interconnected grizzly bear population across the U.S. Northern Rockies.

Although they once lived in the Bitterroot, grizzly bears have been excluded from this area for more than 100 years. Bears from neighboring populations have also had a difficult time travelling there because much of the connecting habitat has been lost or reduced due to development.

But today, positive change is happening thanks to the community of people who want grizzly bears to thrive — including you.

You are supporting Y2Y's work to improve connectivity between protected areas, enable safe passages for wildlife, and help people and wildlife share space. These efforts help give animals, including grizzly bears, room to roam.

This past summer, grizzly bears were on the move in and around the Bitterroot Valley.

Two bears made several crossings of the busy Highway 93 south of Missoula, spending time in the northern Bitterroot Valley.

A female grizzly bear also crossed Highway 200 between the Cabinet Mountains and the northern Bitterroot mountains.

"These movements show that bears are able to access this important habitat, and how critical safe connections are for them," says Y2Y’s Jessie Grossman, who helps lead connectivity efforts in the Yellowstone to Yukon region.

Only a handful of known grizzlies have travelled through this area in recent years, including Lingenpolter, a young male who attempted to cross Interstate 90 at least 46 times. Eventually, he crossed safely. Although Lingenpolter is one bear, he reminds us that many other wildlife species need habitat connectivity.

Bit by bit, bears are navigating areas like the Bitterroot Valley and expanding their range, returning to areas they once occupied. Knowing where bears are going helps us focus efforts on the most important places for wildlife connectivity and coexistence.

We can't continue this work without you. Thank you for giving grizzly bears a beacon of hope in the Bitterroot.

Walking alongside each other

Some resources to grow what you know about Indigenous-led conservation from Y2Y's Nadine Raynolds

Positive change for nature today — and a better future for all — is possible thanks to the leadership of Indigenous Peoples.

Part of my job at Y2Y includes working with communities to build support for Indigenous-led conservation in British Columbia. But I know this goes far beyond a job description. We all share a responsibility to engage in Truth and Reconciliation and make better choices in our lives and work to ensure all people and wildlife can thrive.

This commitment can begin with learning. Here are three places to start, or continue, your learning journey:

1. Read, reflect, respond

While it takes time and practice, it's important to actually read and reflect on the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). What are the ways you will act on these in your life and work?

2. Learn about where you live

Maybe you have heard of or used Native Land Digital to find out which Indigenous lands you live on. Some questions to dive deeper into might be: What is the history of the landscape where you live and play? What are the Indigenous worldviews of that place, its plants and animals? How might knowing this change the way you think and behave?

3. Engage in Ethical Space

Our Ethical Space workshops are filled with diverse perspectives and Indigenous knowledge to learn from. Take some time to watch the videos, consider two-eyed seeing and how this might change the way you engage with people and make decisions. (Two-eyed seeing is an approach where one eye "sees" the strengths of Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing, while the other "sees" the strengths of Western knowledge and ways of knowing.)

By walking alongside each other, learning, growing and weaving ways of knowing, we can foster a future where people and nature thrive.

Nadine Raynolds is a program manager on Y2Y’s Communities and Conservation team. With a background in environmental science, education, local government, and community development, she has been instrumental in leading programming such as for Y2Y’s Ethical Space workshop series.

Y2Y's Nadine Raynolds stands at the base of a huge old growth tree, looking up towards the forest canopy with her hand placed on the tree.

Gifting goodness

Your monthly donation is the gift that keeps on giving 🎁🐻🌲

There are all kinds of ways to give back to nature. By joining Lynx, our monthly donor program, you can go into each day knowing you are making a positive change for nature and people.

Why do you support Y2Y? Let us know! Email Robin Forsyth, Y2Y’s donor relations co-ordinator with your story.

Two people standing closely looking at paper maps of trail or area information. They are in an open, lush mountain valley with forest.

Trails research essential for recreation, planning, conservation and safety

Y2Y-led research fills in gaps in knowledge on recreation trail use

Have you noticed your favorite places to explore nature getting busier? That's probably because they are!

Recreation has been an increasingly popular way to connect with nature. And for a good reason: Skiing, hiking, mountain biking and other adventurous activities are incredible ways to explore the Yellowstone to Yukon region.

We also share these spaces with amazing wildlife species, who can be sensitive to activity in their homes. This is where the need to do better planning for well-loved landscapes comes in. Better planning can also improve our recreation experiences.

Y2Y partnered with the University of Northern British Columbia to research where, how, and how many people recreate across a 24,247-square-mile (62,800-square-km) study area in southwest Alberta and southeastern British Columbia — that's about twice the size of Vancouver Island.

After several seasons of hard work in helicopters surveying trails from above, and crunching data from various sources, we found at least 24 percent of trails on public land in Alberta's Kananaskis Country and B.C.'s Upper Columbia are undocumented and unmanaged by governments.

Thanks to our donors and funders who understand the important role of science, we are providing information to better manage the places where you love to have fun!

This initial study documenting trail type and recreation use is a building block for future research to further understand relationships between recreationists and wildlife. This will lead to better government planning, higher quality experiences for people to connect with nature, and more safety for the wild animals we adore.

Lights, camera... action (for nature and people)

How films inspire us to do what's right + four to add to your list

At Y2Y, we love bringing art into the conservation conversation because it has the power to inspire, share underrepresented perspectives, open minds, and create positive change.

For many years, we have partnered with art galleries and museums on events, supported creators through partner grants, and hosted online film screenings. Your support makes these opportunities for inspiration accessible.

In our recent 'Y2Y Film Fest,' nearly a thousand people joined us online for three films about protecting sacred landscapes that hold both ecological and cultural value in the Yellowstone to Yukon region. Those films, Running Dry: Alberta's Shrinking Rivers, DƏNE YI’INJETL: The Scattering of Man, and For the Next Generation, were each followed with a flood of comments from people asking what they could do to help.

"I believe inspiration from art comes from the same place as inspiration from nature. Films bring nature's beauty right to us — and a desire to protect it — no matter where we live," says Y2Y’s donor relations co-ordinator, Robin Forsyth, who often runs these events.

After the film screenings, we received dozens of messages from folks sharing their own stories, telling us they had contacted decision-makers, and had shared important messages with others. Maybe you were one of them!

"Y2Y's community always shows up ready to make a positive difference for nature and people," adds Robin. "And that change is happening right now thanks to them." (Yes, you!)

Four more films that continue to inspire us to do the right thing:

A season for soap in the Rocky Mountains

Practicing a reciprocal relationship with the Earth

Meet Lauren Moberly-Lightning: a Cree-Métis woman, wife, mother and entrepreneur who lives on the lands of her ancestors — the territory of Aseniwuche Winewak Nation (Rocky Mountain Cree) near Grande Cache, Alberta, along the Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

Lauren Moberly-Lightning stands in a forest and is foraging ingredients for her business, Fallen Mountain Soaps.

Lauren forages from the edible and medicinal plants on her traditional territory to source ingredients for her artisanal soap-making business, Fallen Mountain Soaps, in a way that respects traditional ways of knowing.

Three photos. Far left and right show staged photos of Lauren's artisan soaps. The middle photo shows Lauren near a body of water, holding a shovel, as she forages for soap ingredients.

While harvesting, Lauren offers tobacco to Mother Earth as a thank-you — an act of reciprocity — for providing her with what she needs.

"I'm inspired by cultural teachings and my family’s rich legacy. All living things have a spirit and we must honor that spirit. I take only what I need, and leave enough for new growth," says Lauren.


Your support helps highlight stories such as Lauren's that embody the interconnection of nature and people. In Y2Y's 2022 story gatherer series, get to know the people and places of Alberta's Eastern Slopes.

A caribou looks curiously toward the camera. The background is snowy with a few trees.

Everyone benefits when we save a species

Recent research from Rachel Singleton-Polster, one of Y2Y's 2020 Sarah Baker Memorial Fund recipients, uncovered the need for meaningful and equitable restoration of caribou habitat that has been degraded by mining in British Columbia. According to Rachel, there are tangible ways to make that happen before it's too late.

Your generous support of Y2Y propels the science and research needed to save vulnerable species such as caribou, resulting in real change for wildlife and people.

Photo credits — Person sitting in the forest (Esther Tuttle/Unsplash); Grizzly bear mother and two cubs (Adam Willoughby-Knox/Unsplash); Y2Y's Nadine Raynolds in the inland temperate rainforest; Two people looking at trail maps (National Park Service); Lauren Moberly-Lightning foraging for ingredients (Arsan Buffin); Photo collage for Fallen Mountain Soaps (Randy Karakuntie); Caribou (Shutterstock photo)