Late Summer 2016 - In This Issue:
photo copyright Appalachian Corridor
News from Staying Connected

As summer winds down, I am happy to share some exciting policy news. At their 40th annual conference, held this year on August 29 in Boston, the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers signed a resolution on ecological connectivity. The resolution recognizes the value of connected forests and waterways and calls for collaboration across borders to ensure connectivity. The development of this resolution between January and August was a collaborative effort among SCI's private and public partners. SCI's fundamental strategies - land protection, land use planning, and transportation planning - are key elements of the resolution. 

From regional policy to on-the-ground work, there are many great developments across the region! Over the spring and summer, I had the opportunity to visit several SCI linkages, including Tug Hill to Adirondacks, the Chignecto Isthmus, Green Mountains to Hudson Highlands, and Worcesters to Northeast Kindgom. I talked with local partners and learned about the unique challenges and opportunities in each place. The experiences also highlighted common challenges and opportunities, including learning opportunities, and reinforced the importance of our continued collaboration.

Many SCI partners, including DOTs, natural resource agencies, and conservation groups, will be presenting their work at the Northeastern Transportation and Wildlife Conference in Lake Placid in two weeks. As part of the conference, a half-day SCI-sponsored wildlife camera summit will bring together many organizations - including many SCI partners and others - to share lessons learned in monitoring functional connectivity across our region and beyond. I look forward to seeing many of you there!

Special thanks to Pete Steckler, Caroline Daguet, Jamey Fidel, and Patrice Laliberte for contributing articles for this newsletter.

Best wishes,
Jessie Levine, SCI Coordinator
Connected Forests and Waters a Priority for the 40th Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers

The partners of the Staying Connected Initiative applaud the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers for signing a resolution that recognizes the value of forests and waterways and calls for collaboration across state, provincial, and international borders to ensure they remain connected.   Forests are essential to the vitality of the region's native wildlife and plants, as well as its human communities, livelihoods, economies, and quality of life. Keeping them connected, particularly in the face of climate change, protects all of these values by bolstering resilience and fostering adaptation.  

Private Foundations Invest in SCI's Transportation Work

Over the spring and summer, SCI received four new grants to support regional work on habitat connectivity and transportation. These grants will enable SCI partners to complete a range of tasks, including compiling and sharing methods and best management practices, identifying priority
roads for connectivity, and completing pilot projects.
SCI thanks these funders for their support:
  • The Davis Conservation Foundation 
  • The Jesse B. Cox Charitable Trust
  • The Prospect Hill Foundation
  • Patagonia Environmental Grants
For more information about the regional transportation work, contact Jessie Levine.
Wildlife Camera Study in Northern New Hampshire 

SCI partners in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont (NEK) to Northern New Hampshire Linkage are conducting a roadside wildlife camera study to validate GIS-identified wildlife connectivity path-
Wildlife camera photo courtesy of The Nature Conservancy New Hampshire
ways. The study, which began in December of 2014, achieved a milestone last April with data analysis and
repor ting submitted to one of the project funders in April (repo rt available  here ) . Study results are informing targeted land owner outreach to protect key parcels of land in the linkage.  Furthermore, the results of the study have led to a pilot road kill inventory effort with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation along US  Route 3.  More news to come f rom that study as it gets  underway! For more information, contact Pete Steckler.
Cohabiter avec la nature!   A Transboundary Brochure

SCI partners, Appalachian Corridor and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), worked together to develop a landowner tool to protect habitats. The guidebook,  " Cohabiter avec la nature! " was developed in French to provide guidance on wildlife-friendly residential development   and land-use planning in the Appalachians of Southern Quebec.  The  guidebook is a translation and adaptation
of WCS's graphically rich handbook, 
titled "Make Room for Wildlife," published in 2013. Between June 2015 and August 2016, 200 copies of the "Cohabiter avec la nature!" brochure were printed and distributed to landowners, town planners and conservation advocates. Its content was presented to twelve local municipalities, two Regional County   Municipalities (RCMs), targeted audiences including conservation partn ers, urban planners and develope rs, and the general public. Promising discussions are ongoing with several of these municipalities regarding foreseeable adaptations to their regulations. Learn more.
Vermont's New Forestry Integrity Bill
photo credit: A. Blake Gardner

SCI partners are celebrating legislation that will help promote forests and wildlife co nnec tivity in Vermont. Many SCI partners, including Vermont Natural Resources Council, Vermont Chapter of the Nature Co nservancy, Vermont Land Trust, and Trust for Public Land, partnered with Audubon Vermont, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, and environmental leaders in the Vermont Legislature to recently pass H.857 - a bill to promote forest integrity. Signed into law as Act 171, the act takes several positive steps to promote the health and viability of Vermont forests and wildlife. In  particular, it adds the goal of  maintaining and improving forest blocks and habitat connectors into land use planning laws, and it requires town and regional plans to indicate those areas that are important as forest blocks and habitat conne ctors, and plan for land development in those areas to minimize forest fragmentation and promote the health, viability, and ecological function of forests. The act also creates incentives for landowners to donate their forests as public land, establishes policies to maintain the rural forest economy, and establishes a working group to identify strategies to help landowners plan for the long-term stewardship and ownership of their forests.  Vermont Natural Resources Council recently published a guide for municipalities to promote intact forests and wildlife connectivity through land use planning. Learn more.
Northeast Kingdom to Northern New Hampshire to Western Maine Linkage Expands into Quebec
Quebec's Lac du Portage
photo credit: Claude DuchaƮne

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has increased its work area in the Borderland Mountains and Appalachian Plateaus Natural Area to improve terrestrial habitat connectivity in SCI's Northeast Kingdom (NEK) to Northern New Hampshire to Western Maine linkage. This area of Quebec  includes four large forest blocks of more than 10,000 ha (about 25,000 acres), as well as nine priority species for the region.  Using studies published by U.S. partners,  NCC is planning a structural connectivity analysis to help prioritize conservation actions.  NCC is also organizing outreach efforts to raise awareness about the importance of connectivity among municipal authorities, governments and conservation stakeholders.  NCC secured its first property in this area in 1999 and now protects 9,200 ha (22,700 acres), including the largest forest conservation servitude in Quebec. For more information, contact Patrice Laliberte
Upcoming SCI Webinars and Events

Webinar on SCI's Chignecto Isthmus Linkage : Thursday, September 8, 10 AM Eastern/11 AM Atlantic. Learn about efforts underway in SCI's most eastern linkage area: the Chignecto Isthmus, a narrow strip of land connecting New Brunswick to mainland Nova Scotia. Contact Jessie Levine for webinar access information.

SCI's wildlife camera workshop at the Northeastern Transportation and Wildlife Conference : September 13, Lake Placid, NY. Contact Jens Hilke for more information.

Webinar on SCI's Tug Hill Plateau to Adirondack Mountains Linkage Thursday, November 10, 10 AM Eastern/11 AM Atlantic. Learn about SCI partners' work at the western edge of the Northern Appalachians, including a new crossing structure to help wildlife move under key roads. Contact Jessie Levine for webinar access information.

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 involves nearly 30 collaborators spanning five northeastern states and three Canadian provinces working to ensure that people and wildlife thrive together.