Spring 2017 - In This Issue:
Photo credit: Nature Conservancy of Canada
News from Staying Connected

Though spring is happening in fits and starts in the northern Appalachians this year, summer is just around the corner, with the promise of long days outside, fresh, locally grown produce, and journeys in the forests and on the water. This is a busy time for our partners, with regional partnership meetings, the start of the field season, and international conferences - our new SCI poster just had its debut at the National Adaptation Forum in St. Paul.

The stories in this season's newsletter illustrate the reach of our partnership, from the Black River Valley in western NY, where SCI partners are engaging local citizens in connectivity issues, to the Chignecto Isthmus, where the Nova Scotia government has tripled the size of protected areas in this key connectivity zone. As always, the great connectivity work all across the northern Appalachians is an inspiration!

Wishing you a safe and healthy spring,
Jessie Levine, SCI Coordinator
Save the Date: Conference on Roads, Wildlife, and Climate Change Adaptation
 Wildlife passage structure inside a culvert on Quebec's Highway 175.
Photo credit: Appalachian Corridor

SCI partners are hard at work planning an important  conference -- "Roads, Wildlife, and Adaptation to Climate Change" -- to be held in
Quebec City from October 23 - 25, 2017. It provides a forum for sharing new research  results and successful partnership projects initiated since 2011 to mitigate the impacts of roads on wildlife and connectivity and to better adapt to a changing climate . All the content -- presentations, workshops, and a field trip -- will be available in French and English. This event is being organized by A ppalachian Corridor, in partnership with SCI, the Ontario Road Ecology Group (OREG), Joc hen Jaeger from Concordia University, Quebec's Ministry of Forests, Wildlife, and Parks, Quebec's Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment, and the Fight Against Climate Change, as well as the Association of Quebec Biologists. Learn more.
Engaging Landowners in the Tug Hill to Adirondacks Linkage

In the Tug Hill to Adirondacks linkage, SCI partners have been working with local landowners to better understand wildlife use and movement on private lands. Over the past year, through a project led by Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, and Wildlife Conservation
Dave Rapke, a participant in the project, stands with a trail camera on his 96-acre property.
Photo credit: Zach Wakeman
Society, wildlife cameras were placed on sixteen parcels in the linkage to document wildlife presence. Project participants Gerry and Larry Ritter said of the project: "When we s aw bobcat on our camera, it was so exciting. We suspected these animals were out there, but this was solid proof. We had no idea our land is so important to their survival." The next step in the project is to meet with the landowners to review the findings and explore wildlife-friendly land management options. Some participants have expressed an interest in discussing opportunities for long-term land protection.  Learn more about this project, or find out about an informational webinar next month about SCI partners' work with private landowners .
Expansion of Protected Lands in the Chignecto Isthmus

Photo credit: Mike Dembeck
SCI partners in Nova Scotia welcomed the provincial government's announcement in April of the designation of an additional 2,785 hectares (6,881 acres) of Crown land to the Chignecto  Isthmus Wilderness Area, tripling the size of the protected area. Chignecto is an essential land bridge, connecting Nova Scotia and its wildlife to the rest of the continent. Including private lands protected by Nature Conservancy of Canada, the total core protected area is now 4,1 08 hectares (9,928 acres) in Nova Scotia, and 5,290 hectares (13,073 acres) in New Brunswick. Read more.
Catalyst Fund for Land Protection in Greens to Hudson Highlands
A parcel in Goshen, MA protected through the catalyst fund.
Photo credit: Lauren Owens

Partners in the Green Mountains to Hudson Highlands linkage recently received $55,000 from the Jessie B. Cox Charitable Trust for the second phase of the Berkshire Wildlife Linkage Catalyst Fund. This fund covers due diligence costs for protection of priority lands within the linkage. Land (or development rights) must be a bargain sale or donation and be in core wildlife habitat or a prioritized connectivity area. The successful first phase of this fund granted $20,000 to three land protection projects in Massachusetts and Vermont, totaling 844 acres. This fund has also encouraged linkage partners -- conservation groups and land trusts -- to increase their outreach efforts to private landowners. Learn more.
Three Borders Road Ecology Study
The road ecology study in the Quebec portion of the Three Borders linkage is now underway. The project is a collaboration between the University of Quebec at Rimouski, Quebec's Ministry of Transportation, Quebec's Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks, and Two Countries One Forest. The overall objective of the study is to develop a proactive, replicable, science-based approach for Quebec's Ministry of Transportation to determine where to site wildlife crossings as part of road projects. The study has three focal species: moose and white-tailed deer (which pose the greatest risks to road safety), and Canada lynx (which is vulnerable to habitat fragmentation). Over the winter, twenty moose were outfitted with telemetry collars. The data collected about their travel patterns will help inform development of a new, region-specific habitat model for moose movement. Models of moose habitat from other parts of Quebec are not relevant because moose density in the Three Borders region is about ten times higher than it is in other places; researchers believe this higher density is an additional stress that affects how moose use their habitat. Watch TVA Nouvelles coverage of this study (in French). 
Partnership Focuses on Shutesville Hill Wildlife Corridor
A consulting forester works with a landowner on a management plan for her property in the SHWC.
Photo credit: Keith Thompson

The Shutesville Hill Wildlife Corridor (SHWC) in northern Vermont is a vital connection between two vast, forested stretches of wildlife habitat along the Mt. Mansfield spine of the Green Mountains and the Worcester Range, which in turn connects to Vermont's "Northeast Kingdom," New Hampshire, Maine's North Woods, and beyond. The SHWC is located between the resort town of Stowe to the north and Interstate 89 and the town of Waterbury to the south, where development and fragmentation pressures are high. With the help of a grant from the Jessie B. Cox Charitable Trust Fund, project partners are working on a strategic plan to protect and enhance this critical resource and its associated benefits to wildlife and people regionally. Strategies include identifying opportunities for permanent land conservation, strengthening local and regional land-use planning, engaging with landowners, providing land management guidance, and identifying ways to enhance safe passage for wildlife across Route 100. SHWC partners include the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission, Green Mountain Byways Steering Committee, Lamoille County Planning Commission, Stowe Conservation Commission, Stowe Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Vermont Agency of Transportation, Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation, Vermont Land Trust, Vermont Natural Resources Council, and the Waterbury Conservation Commission. Learn more.

Quebec Government Invests $15 Million in Land Protection
Photo credit: Claude Côté

The Government of Quebec recently committed to contributing $15 million to expand the province's network of protected areas on privately owned lands. Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) will match this contribution over the next three years as it works with other conservation organizations across the province in implementing these funds. NCC anticipates directing about half of these funds to land conservation projects that improve connectivity and boost the region's resiliency to climate change. Learn more
Vermont Wildlife Camera Study Advancing

Photo credit: The Nature Conservancy in Vermont
The second phase of the Vermont SCI wildlife camera research project, involving about eighty cameras in linkages across the state, is underway. This project, a collaboration between The Nature Conservancy, the Vermont Agency of Transportation, and the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, uses key findings from the first phase to look more closely at the physical characteristics of transportation infrastructure and the role those characteristics may play in whether terrestrial wildlife cross over or under a road. While the first phase focused primarily on the size of structures (like bridges and culverts), the second phase is considering engineering elements as well. Learn more.

Training for Land Trusts: Climate Science and Local Land Protection
Photo credit: Jerry and Marcy Monkman

SCI partner land trusts in northern New England are invited to a day-long workshop on June 29 in Wells, Maine, titled "Protection of Climate Corridors: Supporting a Diversity of Plants and Wildlife in a Changing Climate." This workshop is dedicated to understanding not only the importance of core forests, but also the critical connections between them that will be necessary for sustaining habitats and wildlife over time. Presenters will include ecologists from the Open Space Institute, The Nature Conservancy, and SCI partners. Learn more.
SCI at Upcoming Conferences

SCI partners will be presenting our collaborative work at these upcoming meetings:
Are you planning to attend an upcoming meeting and interested in making a presentation featuring SCI?  Let us know. We have a new SCI poster, and we have plenty of presentation materials to share.

The Staying Connected Initiative, a program of Two Countries One Forest, promotes wildlife habitat connections in an increasingly fragmented landscape. This unique cross-border public/private partnership includes over 30 collaborators, spanning five northeastern states and three Canadian provinces, working to ensure that people and wildlife thrive together.