Wildways and Trails

National Trails Map

The term ‘wildways’ is used in its broadest sense by the Wildlands Network in its efforts to build interconnecting habitats for the benefit of migrating wildlife.  The concept, however, is not new.

For decades the U.S. Forest Service has been developing land use plans around the notion of core habitats with connecting wildlife corridors.   For example, areas of old-growth forest habitats are often protected from extractive activities and connected to similar habitats with corridors of special wildlife areas or non-motorized recreation areas.  It’s simply the idea of giving wide-ranging wildlife that needs certain habitats the ability to roam undisturbed among areas of the habitats they need.

This notion has expanded to state and private lands when these land owners and managers get together to provide further habitat connections.  For example a state transportation department might work with the Forest Service to find ways for deer or elk to get across highways without dying in altercations with automobiles.

The Wildlands Network expands these concepts to a continental scale with long and broad corridors they define as:

  • The Eastern Wildway extending northward from the Everglades along the Appalachians to the Arctic
  • The Western Wildway spanning the continent from Mexico, through the Rockies, to Alaska
  • The Pacific Wildway running from Baja to Alaska and
  • The Boreal Wildway running west-east from Alaska to the Canadian Maritimes across the forest roof of North America

In the United States,  the corridors roughly correspond to the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. It seems these concepts that were developed for the benefit of wildlife also correspond to deep seated needs of humans.

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