On the first day of the annual conference of the International Association of Conservancy Research and Education (IACRE), the organization that manages the federal government’s conservancy programs, I spoke with a panelist about why conservation groups are increasingly worried about the future of the Western Great Plains.
The Western Great Lakes, which stretch from the Gulf of Mexico through the Midwest to Canada’s Rocky Mountains, are home to many of the world’s most endangered species, including the red fox and the endangered American bison.
IACRE’s conservation director, Steve DeSantis, said he worries that if the region is not managed well, it could become another Great Plains — one that will be increasingly difficult for the government to manage.
“There are no national parks in the Western Lakes region.
There are no federal parks in this region,” DeSantsis said.
“So this is a region where there are a lot of really important wildlife corridors, so to speak, and a lot more wildlife habitat that is really valuable to the ecosystem.
So you’re kind of seeing, again, a situation where we’re looking for solutions to that problem.”
In the western Great Lakes region, the IACRES report, released in May, identifies nine areas of concern — the most critical being the Great Lakes’ southernmost reaches, where a recent report by the Great Plains Restoration Alliance found more than 50 species of fish and 30 species of amphibians are threatened.
The region also has more than a million acres of habitat that can be easily lost to development.
DeSantis told CBC News that a lot is being lost by conservancy groups, which work in the area to protect the region’s biodiversity.
The IACES report points to several threats to the region that are being neglected or underappreciated by conservancies.
For example, the region has less than 1,000 square kilometres of land area and only about 2.5 per cent of that area is currently conserved.
It also has little protection against flooding due to the lack of wetlands and wetlands conservation efforts have largely failed.
De Santis said there are already some examples of areas being neglected that are not conserved that are now attracting people.
The most significant example is the area of the Great Rivers Corridor that is underutilized and needs conservation.
The Great Lakes Restoration Alliance (GLRCA) works with a network of conservation organizations in the region to develop and implement conservation plans and policies, and says conservancies have already seen a big jump in membership, especially from conservation groups in Alberta.
GLRCA is also working with the government on a national wildlife corridor that is part of the GLRMA plan.
De Santis also noted that the GLMAA is working on a regional wildlife corridor in Alberta and the GLMA has also been working on an international corridor.
“In terms of conservation, we’re already seeing conservation efforts around the region being a major part of conservancy efforts.
So we’re seeing, for example, our Great Lakes Conservancy and GLRDA being very involved with conservancy initiatives and partnerships,” he said.
The GLMDA has been working to protect a number of endangered species in the Great Lake region, and De Santsis explained that the organization has partnered with the Alberta Fish and Wildlife Conservation Board (AFWCB) and the Calgary Zoo to protect northern pike and black bear.
The GLMCA also works with the U.S. Fish and Game Service to protect grizzly bears and moose.
DeSands said the GLDA and AFWCB are working with federal agencies to improve the way they monitor the state of the region and to protect habitat.
“It’s not just about conserving.
It’s also about managing and protecting biodiversity and managing wildlife corridors.
We’re doing a lot with the Great River corridor,” he told CBC Calgary.
The Alberta Great Lakes Wildlife Program also works to protect wildlife in the province, including moose and black bears.
The group is working with Alberta Parks to protect and manage habitat and the Greater Golden Prairie Wildlife Conservation Area (GGWPAA).
De Santsons said the area is also in the process of developing a regional plan to protect migratory birds and native plants.
The province is also spearheading a conservation plan for northern pikes and black bison that will also be developed through the GLRAI.
De Santis said conservancies are also working on several regional planning and management plans.
The Great Lakes Conservation Alliance (GLCA) works to ensure that conservation lands are managed appropriately and that resources are used to enhance ecosystems and restore ecosystems to their natural state.GLCAs plans include a network to protect species in all of the GLCAs seven Great Lakes.
The plan includes a proposal to create a reserve in the Lower St. Lawrence River Valley to protect threatened migratory and native species and to manage threatened habitat.GCLA’s northern plan is focused