Initiative proposes wildlife corridor from Yellowstone to Yukon

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    By HEATHER ANNIS AND JAREN POPE

    A hot new issue called Y2Y, from Yellowstone to Yukon, is heating up debate in the Rocky Mountain environmental realm.

    Y2Y is a movement aiming to create a wildlife corridor from the Yellowstone region in the United States to the Yukon region of Canada. This wildlife corridor would link national parks and preserves, while allowing wildlife to migrate freely from Idaho to northern Canada.

    The corridor would also help protect some of the last remaining wilderness areas in North America, say environmentalists.

    Many wildlife biologists fear that methods of preserving wilderness are insufficient to sustain populations of large animals, such as grizzly bears, wolves and lynx.

    “Corridors can permit movement of migratory animals and ensure a diverse gene pool by permitting some interbreeding between different populations of the same species,” said G. Tyler Miller Jr., president of Earth Education and Research.

    One of the leading proponents of the Y2Y initiative, biologist Richard Mueller, said the idea is not to convert the entire block into park lands, but to create various protection areas, which allow large mammals to move freely.

    There are many people who agree with Mueller, including more than 100 organizations, both on the local and national scale, that are supporting and organizing the Y2Y initiative.

    However, the project is not without critics. According to the Y2Y Web site (www.rockies.ca/y2y), “The transition areas are intended to allow gradations of greater human use — including some resource extraction — as one travels outward away from the core protected areas and corridors.”

    Some say this would restrict the land-owner rights for many of the 2.5 million people living within the greater corridor.

    “The species conflict is largely political, and that’s a real problem. If you have a house in the city, and a freeway is going through your house, you wouldn’t think of allowing that freeway to go through without being compensated for the loss,” said Chuck Cushman, the executive director of the American Land Rights Association. “But somehow, it would be okay to use the private property of another rancher.”

    According to an excerpt from the Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper, Y2Y will create a jurisdictional nightmare. Also, some opponents say that Y2Y would undermine some local economies that are based on resource extraction, like logging and mining, because of land-use restrictions.

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