Staying Connected in an Unprecedented Time

During this time of remaining physically and socially distant, the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy is still thinking of ways to connect habitats and wildlife across the landscape, and we are thrilled to announce our newest conservation partnership towards this mission.

In 2019, MHLC officially joined the Staying Connected Initiative (SCI). This international collaboration of public agencies, private conservation groups, and universities seeks to conserve, restore, and enhance landscape connectivity across the Northern Appalachian/Acadian region, which includes portions of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maine, and the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, Quebec, and New Brunswick. Last winter, SCI announced that the Catskills to Adirondacks would be the newest linkage for the initiative, recognizing its importance for reconnecting the Central Appalachians to the Northern Appalachians. The linkage is located within our service area, making MHLC the lead conservation organization advancing this larger landscape goal on the ground.

SCI linkage map depicts the new Mohawk Valley addition. Map created by Dan Coker, The Nature Conservancy

Why is this connection so critical? 

Many species have lost the suitable habitat in this region that historically connected them to the Northern Appalachian population. Species such as the Golden-winged Warbler have lost the suitable habitat in this region that historically connected them to the Northern Appalachian population. As a result, gene diversity and mate selection have narrowed and left some species of birds to hybridize with other closely related species, thus reducing the number of Golden-winged Warblers on our earth forever. These corridors are critical pathways for species to move and adapt as they seek suitable habitat in the face of climate change. MHLC will work with SCI and regional partners to map this linkage and focus conservation priorities to create corridors of connected habitat to facilitate species movement over time.

Taking local action

The work will include an analysis to identify the most significant impediments to species movement. Studies in other SCI focal areas have shown that improvements to bridges and culverts can increase wildlife flow rates under roads, while also diverting animal movement away from roads and reducing vehicle collisions. By working with SCI partners to address these impediments along major transecting roads such as the Thruway and Route 5 and acquiring buffer lands to give wildlife room to roam, the Conservancy will provide wildlife with safe passage under these challenging, and often fatal, existing roads. 

MHLC is very excited to be a part of this larger initiative and to be taking local action on the global stage. To learn more about The Staying Connective Initiative, please visit http://stayingconnectedinitiative.org/about/.

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