Stories of nature and people’s journeys in the Y2Y region
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Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative


August 14, 2023

Y2Y is on a mission to connect wildlife, habitat, and people — and we're so glad you're along for the journey.

In this issue of Connections, we delve into captivating journeys, including those of wildlife across vast landscapes, and also the learning journey we're on together to best understand nature's needs.

Whether you support Y2Y by attending our events throughout the year, donate your hard-earned money to progress conservation, or advocate for nature protections in other ways, you are the reason we can achieve our mission: Connecting and protecting habitat from Yellowstone to Yukon so people and nature can thrive.

Keep reading to learn how.

In this edition of Connections:

Wildlife crossings (and fencing) help wildlife and people thrive

Supporting Indigenous leadership in landscape conservation

Y2Y supporter spotlight: connecting with — and learning about — nature

Creating a space for community connections

Live in Montana and donate to Y2Y? Read this!

5 of the books, podcasts, and more we are loving right now

A grizzly bear mother and cub use a wildlife overpass structure over the Trans-Canada highway in Banff National Park. Fencing guiding the bears across the bridge is seen in the background.

Wildlife crossings help wildlife and people thrive

Fencing projects in the Yellowstone to Yukon region helping guide wildlife to safety

Wildlife crossings help wildlife and people thrive.

But have you ever wondered how fencing keeps people and wildlife safe?

You wouldn’t be the first. People often understand the concept of wildlife overpasses and underpasses but are less clear on the need for fencing.

Fencing is at the core of a successful wildlife crossing project. It guides wildlife to safe crossing points while keeping them off roads, avoiding wildlife-vehicle collisions.

Fencing and wildlife crossings also keep animals connected. Wildlife can move safely and disperse, which means they can find food, habitats, mates, reproduce, and maintain genetic diversity. In other words, when they can move, they can survive.

A fence is not just a fence! It represents how we live on the land and with wildlife, and how we see ourselves as part of the natural world.

Do wildlife-friendly fences make a difference? Are all fences the same? How can landowners help keep wildlife moving safely? How do fences help people and wildlife live in harmony?

Y2Y's communities and conservation co-ordinator, Hannah Rasker, covers the answers to these burning questions and more on our blog.

A bright green landscape scattered with wildflowers, with a mountain valley seen in the distance in Kaska Dena territory in northern B.C.

Exploring Ethical Space together: Supporting Indigenous leadership in landscape conservation

Connecting with Y2Y’s Indigenous relations advisor Gwen Bridge

Indigenous Peoples have stewarded lands, waters, plants and animals since time immemorial and are often at the forefront of nature conservation.

Y2Y's Exploring Ethical Space program takes participants on a learning journey to discover how Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous people can work together to nurture support for Indigenous authority and leadership in landscape conservation.

Gwen Bridge, a member of the Saddle Lake Cree Nation of Alberta and Y2Y's Indigenous relations advisor, led the creation of the Exploring Ethical Space series, which launched in 2020.

Black and white photo of Gwen BridgeGwen played a pivotal role by kicking off the series with a workshop introducing people to the concept of ethical space and Indigenous worldviews.

She helped make this one of the first publicly accessible programs exploring Indigenous and non-Indigenous relationship building through an ethical space lens to provide deeper contributions to dialogue, increase public awareness, and guide real-world applications.

This program has helped people across sectors — from B.C. government staff, Indigenous communities, academic institutions, researchers, adventure tourism businesses, forestry sector, and more — realize they can conduct their work and think in a different way while providing a space for Indigenous communities to share their stories.

Exploring Ethical Space elevates participants to something deeper: creating and sustaining prosperous communities and healthy landscapes through Indigenous-led conservation.

Francisco Medina is shown rock climbing with the Bow Valley far below in the background.

Y2Y supporter spotlight: Francisco Medina

Journey through the mountains: the importance of connecting with — and learning about — nature

Francisco Medina is from Santiago, Chile, where his passion for nature began in childhood. By 18, he was on a climbing trip in the Alps where his love for mountains matured. He then became a certified mountain guide with the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association in France.

Now based in Canmore, Alberta, he spends his winters leading an avalanche control program, and his summers on the glaciers and mountains surrounding Banff National Park. As owner of Paramount Guides, he helps folks experience mountaineering expeditions, climbing, skiing, and more, while educating them on the importance of responsible outdoor recreation.

In an interview with Y2Y, Francisco shares his thoughts on what it means to experience nature, the importance of being mindful about our impact on ecosystems, and why he supports Y2Y's work to help people and wildlife share space.

"Your experience of nature depends on where you're coming from and where you are going. Be honest about how much knowledge you have, go for attainable goals, and educate yourself, whether it is on what clothing to wear or how to interact with wildlife to minimize risks. People and wildlife alike are on an adventure when in nature, and we need to be respectful of their habitat."

Right now, Y2Y is studying recreation to better understand how we can make more room in the outdoors for both humans and wildlife to thrive. We're grateful for supporters like Francisco, and you, who are helping increase awareness about responsible recreation.

Y2Y's Caleigh Leighton speaks with a group of people at a Y2Y booth at the Alpine Club of Canada's Canmore Clubhouse anniversary open house

Creating a space for community connections

A closer look at how we come together at events across the landscape

For Y2Y, connecting with people like you is critical in progressing conservation for the wildlife and people depending on healthy ecosystems for generations to come.

Because of these moments, we're able to craft an interconnected system of lands and waters stretching from Yellowstone to Yukon, harmonizing the needs of people with those of nature.

Here are just a few moments from 2023 so far:

There is a Place on Earth film screening

We showcased There is a Place on Earth, a feature-length documentary about how artists can impact nature conservation, as part of our regular Y2Y and Whyte Museum Speaker series held in Banff, Alberta. With filmmaker Ellen van den Honert and world-renowned conservationist Harvey Locke in attendance, community members from the Bow Valley were taken on a poetic journey around the globe to meet the artists and conservationists protecting animals and landscapes.

Save the date! We're partnering with the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming to host a screening of 'There is a Place on Earth' on Oct. 26, 2023. Details coming soon.

Interactive art show with sculptor George Bumann

We hosted an evening for art and nature lovers alike, as artist George Bumann transformed a piece of clay into a stunning wolf in a live sculpture performance. He shared how his path of art, wildlife, and nature merged, and how he weaves this story into his art. This event is part of our 'Intersection Series,' a speaker series co-hosted by Y2Y and the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming.

Y2Y's Scott Brennan sitting at a booth in the National Museum of Wildlife Art with a Y2Y stand-up banner on each side. There's a painting of a bear behind him.

Photo: Y2Y’s senior director, conservation programs, Scott Brennan, shared how art can open the conversation that leads to conservation.

Wild Life film screening

Y2Y partnered with Patagonia Elements for film screenings in Calgary and Banff, Alberta, of National Geographic’s documentary, Wild Life. This documentary depicts the decades-long journey of Kristine Tompkins as adventurer turned entrepreneur then conservationist, and her visionary efforts to create national parks in South America.

Save the date! We're partnering with Patagonia Elements for another film screening — this time, showcasing the films 'Caribou Homeland' and 'The Last Stand' in Vancouver, B.C. on Nov. 9, 2023. Details coming soon.

Responsible Recreation conference

The Y2Y team had the opportunity to delve into the impact of recreation and adventure tourism on wildlife ecosystems and our insights on big-picture recreation ecology research at the Responsible Recreation: Pathways, Practices and Possibilities conference for nearly 200 people in Revelstoke, British Columbia.

You can learn about current thinking on increasing outdoor recreation activities and its effects on wildlife and ecosystems by tuning into the recordings, including presentations from Y2Y – available until August 16.

The photo on the left shows Y2Y's Talia Vilalta presenting at the recreation conference; the photo on the right shows 4 members of the Y2Y team posing in a kneeled position in front of the Y2Y booth at the Responsible Recreation conference

Photos: Y2Y's conservation science technician, Talia, gives a presentation on recreation research (left); Members of the Y2Y team Annie, Nicolisa, Nadine, Talia, Brynn (L-R) pose in front of the Y2Y booth at the Responsible Recreation conference (right)

Dene K’éh Kusān: Always Will Be There film screening

Y2Y co-hosted a virtual screening of Always Will Be There for more than 650 people alongside the Dena Kayeh Institute. This documentary showcases the Kaska Dena vision to protect Dene K’éh Kusān, a proposed four million hectares Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA) at the core of the Kaska Ancestral traditional territory. There are no roads or mine sites here, but instead the largest remaining intact landscape in British Columbia — and an important puzzle piece in the Yellowstone to Yukon region.

More than 200 people took action to tell the Canadian and B.C. governments to permanently protect Dene K’éh Kusān. You can advance Indigenous-led conservation by signing the statement of support today.

Y2Y is working with the Dena Kayeh Institute to advance this proposed IPCA, and is proud to have worked with Kaska Dena since 2003.

Always Will Be There film cover photo shows a young child looking out at a landscape on Kaska territory. The Dene K’éh Kusān logo is shown on the top left corner of the photo.

From film screenings to festivals, there are more great events happening with Y2Y and partners soon. We hope you can join us! Stay up-to-date with what's happening by signing up for our Conservation News email, and following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Pink-orange sunrise on pointy mountain peaks in Many Glacier Valley, Montana, with a lake in the foreground Many Glacier

Montana residents: Donations to Y2Y could qualify for a $10,000 tax credit

Your planned gifts create a strong and vibrant future for the Yellowstone to Yukon region

There is a way to take advantage of a fantastic endowment tax credit offered to Montana taxpayers while supporting the landscapes and wildlife you love FOREVER!

Y2Y has established an endowment fund at Montana Community Foundation for the permanent benefit of our organization’s vital work to connect and protect habitat from Yellowstone to the Yukon.

Even better, qualified contributions to this endowment will enable donors to take advantage of the Montana Endowment Tax Credit (METC) — a direct credit toward your Montana state tax liability. Individuals can claim up to $10,000 in METC annually or $20,000 for couples filing jointly, and business donors are eligible for up to $10,000 as well.

If you are able to make a gift of $2,500 or more to help ensure a strong and vibrant future for the Yellowstone to Yukon region and could benefit from receiving a direct credit on your Montana taxes, this is an excellent opportunity to consider.

Montanans can create a strong and vibrant future for the Yellowstone to Yukon region through planned giving. This could be you — learn how below!

Connecting to conservation in new ways this summer

5 of the books, podcasts, and more we are loving right now

Our health, well-being, and nature all benefit when we learn about and explore the outdoors. You can embark on an adventure of discovery through books, podcasts, and other resources to complement time spent in nature.

Together, we can then take small actions that lead to lasting impacts to protect the places and wildlife we have discovered through these resources.

1) Nature’s Archive podcast

Kelly Zenkewich, senior communications and digital engagement manager at Y2Y, dives into the power of collaboration and reconciliation as they highlight our unique approach of working across multiple states and provinces alongside at least 75 Indigenous groups.

2) Crossings: How Road Ecology is Shaping the Future of our Planet

Environmental journalist Ben Goldfarb is releasing his new investigative book September 12. This riveting read gives insight into how humans have reshaped the natural world with more than 40 million miles (more than 60 million kilometers) of roadways stretching across the globe, and the need for a transformative approach to ensure a better future for the impacted wildlife, from antelopes to salmon, songbirds, and more.

3) UNDRIP & You: What does UNDRIP* mean for your organization?

Nadine Raynolds, communities and conservation manager at Y2Y, explores the importance of amplifying the voices of Indigenous communities and leadership to create and manage landscapes, and why reconciliation in nature conservation is crucial to the future of landscapes and wildlife.

*United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

4) Biophilic Cities Pathways

Biophilia refers to the human tendency to interact or be closely associated with other forms of life in nature. Dr. Jodi Hilty, president and chief scientist of Y2Y, sat down with Tim Beatley from the University of Virginia and Nina-Marie Lister from the Toronto Metropolitan University to discuss creating an interconnected network of landscapes where wildlife and people can live and thrive in harmony.

5) Eight Bears: Mythic Past and Imperiled Future

As humans and bears come into ever-closer contact, our relationship nears a tipping point. Today, most of the eight remaining bear species are threatened with extinction. In her new book, journalist Gloria Dickie embarks on a globe-trotting journey to explore each bear's story, illustrating what we risk losing if we don’t learn to live alongside the animals that have shaped our cultures, geographies, and stories.

Photo credits —
Header photo: Young pronghorn (Kent Nelson)
Inset photos: Grizzly bear sow and cub (Highway Wilding); Mountain valley in Kaska Dena Territory (Camille Havas/Lichen Project); Gwen Bridge, Y2Y Indigenous Relations Advisor; Y2Y supporter Francisco Medina (supplied photo); Y2Y's Caleigh Leighton at the Alpine Club of Canada's Canmore Clubhouse anniversary open house (Alpine Club of Canada Facebook page); Y2Y's Scott Brennan at a Y2Y-National Museum of Wildlife Art event; Members of the Y2Y team at the 2023 Responsible Recreation conference; Screenshot from the Dena Kayeh Institute's film 'Dene K’éh Kusān: Always Will Be There' (Dena Kayeh Institute); Many Glacier Valley in Montana (NPS/Tim Rains); People reading (Uriel Mont/Pexels)