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Staying Connected Initiative: A Vision for Community and Landscapes

The Northern Forest is one of the most intact temperate broadleaf forests in the world. In addition to the numbers above, it’s a home to rare alpine vegetation, at-risk species, old-growth forests and dynamic rivers.  However, development pressures threaten to fragment existing connectivity and to decrease the ecological health of the region.

In 2009, $1 million grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service catalyzed a partnership between the Nature Conservancy, State wildlife and transportation agencies, and 11 other organizations. The Staying Connected initiative was born. The Staying Connected initiative works to restore, maintain, and enhance large blocks of wildlife habitat and the connections between them.

According to the initiative, the goal is to protect existing connectivity and work to restore lost connectivity between forested habitat from New York to Maine. The priority linkage areas are from the Adirondacks to the Green Mountains, from the Greens to the Worcester Mountains, and on into the expansive forests of Maine and Quebec.

The partners work together to determine where fragmented habitat most threatens wide-ranging forest animals and consider how decisions about land use and habitat are made in each state. Engaging communities to encourage local maintenance and restoration of landscape connections across the Northern Appalachians has been the successful strategy to date.

Jens Hawkins-Hilke a Conservation Planning Biologist for VT Fish & Wildlife Department says it well:

“It is a vibrant partnership that is addressing the need for habitat connectivity with a proven and effective multi-tiered approach that translates landscape scale science into action at the local level,”

Meet the partners:

Maine Audubon

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife

Maine Department of Transportation

New Hampshire Audubon

New Hampshire Department of Transportation

New Hampshire Fish & Game Department

New York Department of Environmental Conservation

New York Department of Transportation

Northeast Wilderness Trust*

The Nature Conservancy* (NY, VT, NH**, & ME)

Trust for Public Land*

Tug Hill Commission

Tug Hull Tomorrow

Two Countries, One Forest

Vermont Agency of Transportation

Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife

Vermont Land Trust*

Vermont Natural Resource Council*

Wildlands Network*

Wildlife Conservation Society

*Approved 1% for the Planet