Indentifying and Protecting Wildlife Corridors

Article in Signpost

“Our Wildlife Corridors” by Laura Robbins (to appear in January issue of the Northside Signpost)
Members and supporters of our local group Pathways-Wildlife Corridors of New Mexico and all who have been involved in the “Protect Our Wildlife Corridors” mural project on the Recycling Center wall feel supported by recent events in our government. A Memorandum of Understanding signed by Governor Richardson and Governor Ritter of Colorado formalizes the intent to cooperate along the shared state borders regarding wildlife corridors. This MOU states that the respective wildlife management agencies (New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and Colorado Division of Wildlife) will recognize the two states as part of the Western Governors Association initiative to identify and protect key habitat connectivity, travel and migration corridors across the Western United States, irrespective of political boundaries. Scientific data will be collected and evaluated, Native American tribes will be consulted, geospatial mapping systems and consistent protocols will be developed, existing and potential land use changes that may limit or eliminate the viability of key wildlife corridors will be identified. Shared strategies will be developed.
“Wildlife Corridors” and “connectivity” are terms that are beginning to enter our common consciousness and speech. Secretary of the Interior, Salazar, when recently speaking in Copenhagen on climate change stated,”Entire wildlife corridors are changing” and “Through the use of landscape and seascape-level conservation initiatives, we will strengthen the connectivity and resiliency of our parks and protected areas and the wildlife and ecosystem services they support. These efforts will prove critical.”
There are many groups in New Mexico and neighboring states working to these ends. Some are beginning to share information through a new umbrella, New Mexico Wildways. Core members of NMW include: Wildlands Network, Earth Works Institute, Wildlife Habitat of NM, Rewilding Institute, NM Wildlife Priority Linkages, Pathways: Wildlife Corridors of NM and New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.
Many individuals and groups work towards meaningful changes: from backyard habitats – to passageways for animals through interstates  – to reintroduction/protection of species due to lack of balance of our public lands monitored by the BLM. We are growing more aware and knowledgeable regarding our own carbon footprints and are paying attention to the local and global uses/protection of water. We humans have jurisdiction over our own behaviors and each small change towards respecting and honoring all who share the gifts of this planet shifts the weight on the fulcrum.
Our thanks to Governor Richardson for sending a positive message that wildlife corridors exist, are important and are worth protecting. We look forward to future advancements from the Western Governor’s Association.

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