Split Rock Wildway, Part Three: Half Way Home
Steps to implementing the wild vision in other areas are similar, though varying by geography and land ownership patterns. While I was trekking the Spine of the Continent (TrekWest) in 2013, wildways advocates in New Mexico showed me a beautiful mosaic they had helped local school kids create, which depicted members of the natural community and their habitats, and added the mosaic to the jigsaw puzzle as a metaphor for how to complete a wildway. Protecting a wild place is a bit like crafting a mosaic: adding piece to beautiful piece.
In sum, the larger Adirondack Park in which Split Rock Wildway almost miraculously survives is a bundle and history of opportunities and paradoxes, all making it a continental conservation priority. Split Rock Wildway is among the most promising wildlife corridors in this wildest landscape in the most influential state of the most powerful nation on Earth! By completing this wildlife corridor, conservationists can inspire restoration of continent-wide conservation and recreation corridors.
The looming challenge – in Split Rock Wildway, and in many other of North America’s most hopeful places — is to find financial and other incentives so that conservation-minded landowners can protect the natural beauty they legally possess, and to inspire residents to get out and explore and extoll wild places. Beneficiaries will be natural and human communities for this and future generations, including that Mama Bear’s great grand-cubs. We will know we are home safe when we the fresh fleeing tracks of a herd of Elk we are following into a snowy grove of American Chestnuts is met by the tracks of a stalking Puma teaching her cubs to hunt.
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 email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org (for his land-care work).