Big, Wild and Connected – John Davis’ TrekEast E-book Series Released!

Dear Friends

I am overdue to tell you of the completion of a book series in which you played a part, direct or indirect.  Island Press has published all three e-books, titled Big, Wild, and Connected, on the 7600-mile muscle-powered traverse I made of a future Eastern Wildway in 2011, with much help from many of you.  I urge you to go to to find the Big, Wild, and Connected series.  John padding in Congaree National Park, SC, photo credit Susan Baycot-DavisPart 1 details the journey and conservation findings from the Southeast Coastal Plain and Southern Appalachians; Part 2, from the Central Appalachians to the Catskills; and Part 3 from the Adirondacks to the Gaspe Peninsula. All of them are available electronically at Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

The books are part adventure stories, part conservation lessons, part rambles with friends, and wholly oriented toward protecting and restoring a continental wildway from the Florida Keys through Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula, beginning and end points of my long trek.  Many of you are in the books, since you served as guides or companions during the ten months of hiking, biking, and paddling.  Others of you helped inspire or inform the trek (and more recently, TrekWest, from Sonora, Mexico, to British Columbia, Canada, in 2013).  I think all of you will find conservation principles relevant to your own work, as well as adventure tales from many of the East’s wildest places.

Please consider sharing the Big, Wild, and Connected books with friends, family, and neighbors by forwarding this message, commenting about it on your social media networks, or reviewing the book on Amazon, Goodreads, or another review site.

TrekEast was guided and informed also by several other books published by Island Press, including Saving Nature’s Legacy, by Reed Noss and Allen Cooperrider; Continental Conservation, by Michael Soule and John Terborgh; Eastern Old-Growth Forests: Prospects for Rediscovery and Recovery, by Mary Byrd Davis and Bob Leverett; Rewilding North America, by Dave Foreman; Wildlands Philanthropy, by Tom Butler; The Wolf’s Tooth, by Cristina Eisenberg; Trophic Cascades, by Jim Estes and John Terborgh; and Forgotten Grasslands of the South, by Reed Noss.  I’ve been fortunate to have the guidance in person, too, of these and other conservation luminaries.  The Wildlands Network, Island Press , and The Rewilding Institute were the main institutional supporters of TrekEast, and many other conservation groups contributed expertise and logistic support.  Indeed, TrekEast became (and TrekWest, last year, was deliberately oriented as) an effort to strengthen and broaden the community of folks dedicated to securing our continent’s great natural legacy, for all native species, even ones we’ve persecuted in the past, like Cougars and Wolves. Wildlands Network orchestrated both Treks East and West, and is now endeavoring to create an Eastern Wildway Network, modeled on the Western Wildway Network which has pulled together conservation groups throughout the Rockies.

As recounted in the books, TrekEast also enjoyed the great support of family and friends from home in the Adirondacks.  Among others, polymath Jerry Jenkins introduced me to the biota of several regions, naturalist Evelyn Greene served as pond-hopping guide, wildlands philanthropist Jamie Phillips provided the sailboat for the smoothest leg of the journey, photographer Larry Master contributed splendid images to blogs and books, and writer George Davis served as trans-media editor.

My rambler’s conceit on TrekEast was to imagine myself a Cougar, trying to recolonize areas northward, from the last vestige in the East of the great cat’s original habitat, in South Florida.  Nearly every step I took was on habitat where once Cougars (Mountain Lions, Pumas, Panthers … same cat, different regional names) roamed and kept herbivore numbers in check.  Our quest with TrekEast was in part to see what it would take to make the East safe again for this pinnacle of predatory evolution.

By the end of TrekEast my conclusion was that a conservation and recreation corridor running continuously from Florida to Quebec – an Eastern Wildway – is still possible, but that achieving it will require a much stronger and broader conservation community.  It will require large-scale cooperation between conservationists, environmentalists, outdoor recreationists, land-owners, land managers, wildlife watchers, natural historians, and everyone who wants to see North America’s natural heritage passed on intact.

My trek ground-truthed the teachings of my mentors, and added some observations on how we might actually restore Nature in a Big, Wild, and Connected fashion in the East, as well as the West.   Rob in Old GrowthIt’s not too late to bring back old-growth forests and healthy, functioning populations of Cougars, Wolves, Elk, Bison, bats, songbirds, salamanders, salmon, eels, trout … but it soon will be, if we do not find the means to expand and reconnect natural areas, reward land-owners for good stewardship, keep carbon in the ground, and teach our children to welcome all their wild neighbors, even big cats with the power to restore wildflowers and songbirds.

Many thanks!


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John Davis is executive director of The Rewilding Institute and editor of Rewilding Earth.  For Rewilding, he serves as a wildways scout, editor, interviewer, and writer. He rounds out his living with conservation field work, particularly within New York’s Adirondack Park, where he lives. John serves on boards of RESTORE: The North Woods, Eddy Foundation, Champlain Area Trails, Cougar Rewilding Foundation, and Algonquin to Adirondack Conservation Collaborative.  

John served as editor of Wild Earth journal from 1991-96, when he went to work for the Foundation for Deep Ecology, overseeing their Biodiversity and Wildness grants program from 1997-2002.  He then joined the Eddy Foundation as a board member and continues to serve as volunteer land steward for that foundation in its work to conserve lands in Split Rock Wildway.  This wildlife corridor links New York’s Champlain Valley with the Adirondack High Peaks via the West Champlain Hills. John served as conservation director of the Adirondack Council from 2005 to 2010.

In 2011, John completed TrekEast, a 7600-mile muscle-powered exploration of wilder parts of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada—sponsored by Wildlands Network and following lines suggested in Dave Foreman’s book Rewilding North America—to promote restoration and protection of an Eastern Wildway.    In 2012, John wrote a book about that adventure, Big, Wild, and Connected: Scouting an Eastern Wildway from Florida to Quebec, published by Island Press.  

In 2013, John trekked from Sonora, Mexico, north along the Spine of the Continent as far as southern British Columbia, Canada, again ground-truthing Rewilding North America and promoting habitat connections, big wild cores, and apex predators—all  of which would be well served by fuller protection of the Western Wildway he explored.  John continues to work with many conservation groups to protect and reconnect wild habitats regionally and continentally.

John is available to give public talks on rewilding, conservation exploration, and continental wildways, as well as to write and edit on these subjects.  He is also available for contract field work, particularly monitoring conservation easements, documenting threats to wildlands, and marking conservation boundaries.  He can be reached at and (for his land-care work).

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