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Welcome to the 2016 Annual Report


 

Our Vision

An interconnected system of wild lands and waters stretching from Yellowstone to Yukon, harmonizing the needs of people with those of nature.

 

Our Mission

Connecting and protecting habitat from Yellowstone to Yukon so that people and nature can thrive.

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Jodi Hilty, Y2Y President & Chief Scientist

Jodi Hilty, Y2Y President & Chief Scientist

In 2016, Y2Y:

Raised $204,626 to support other organizations

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Worked on 10 projects that make roads safer for wildlife and drivers

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Reached more than an estimated 12 million people through news media stories, documentaries, social media channels and talks

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Ranked in the top five percent of research outputs for the year on a list compiled by Altmetric, a service that grades scholarly impact of research. The two science papers affiliated with Y2Y, on gravel-bed rivers and challenges of national habitat conservation systems, show extraordinary reach in scientific communities


The power of partnerships

A Letter from our president & Chief Scientist

The increase in momentum Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) built in 2016 is so exciting.

Collaboration and authentic relationships are central to the advances we accomplish in every corner of the Yellowstone to Yukon corridor, so it’s no surprise the theme for this year’s report is the power of partnership. With a landscape as large and complex as Yellowstone to Yukon’s, our progress is about successful partnerships. This approach is one way we are unique among conservation organizations.

One role we play is to evaluate, at a high level, the needs of this extensive landscape. This means we identify what it takes to connect and protect this landscape, prioritize where work needs to get done, and then partner with relevant groups to find and catalyze solutions.  

Partnerships allow this work to be strategic, by focusing on timely projects that advance the larger vision; efficient, by using the collective resources, knowledge and expertise that each partner brings to the table; and innovative, by benefiting from the creative wisdom of many. 

We move the Y2Y vision forward through partnerships. Whether it’s dividing up the work, promoting and amplifying partner outcomes, engaging in scientific research with them or bringing resources to support priorities, one thing is certain: we’re stronger together. The backing of our funders and individual supporters makes these partnerships possible with key players on the conservation landscape. And because we are working together, donors get a bigger bang for their buck.

Whether you’ve been engaged since our founding more than 20 years ago or are a new fan who’s discovered us in the past year through exciting new outreach opportunities, we are thankful for your support. You are helping us advance our vision.

I hope you enjoy catching up on a few highlights from 2016. Be sure to watch for our print version of the annual report, or click on the PDF link above for a downloadable copy.

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Jodi HiltY

President & Chief Scientist

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Maintaining Wild Spaces, Saving Big Places

The Yellowstone-to-Yukon vision has always been about high-reaching goals. Protecting the big spaces and wild places in this 2,000-mile (3,218-kilometer) corridor is paramount to our work. Protecting core habitat in a region of this size comes down to working at the local level, such as within Montana’s Badger-Two Medicine, Idaho’s Scotchman Peaks and Yukon’s Peel Watershed. 

Together with partners such as Crown Conservation Initiative; Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance; Montana Wilderness Association; The Wilderness Society; Earthjustice; the CPAWS Yukon; Yukon Conservation Society; Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness; Yaak Valley Forest Council and more, Y2Y is advancing the protection of key core habitats and the corridors that lie between them.

Each project is an integral part of the overall picture, contributing to the whole. Protecting these areas means securing much-needed habitat for wildlife and making it easier for them to move between these large habitat patches. Each step forward shows our work is integral to expanding and maintaining the networks of habitat and linkage zones that help connect populations of species such as grizzlies, caribou and many more.

The reason for our success? Working with key partners. 

These partnerships help amplify conservation messages and build community involvement in a multitude of ways. Partnership and engagement, along with the help of our donors, are what move the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative vision forward. It’s a great responsibility to protect one of the world’s most intact mountain ecosystems and North America’s pristine big wild for future generations. We’re proud to be a part of that process. 

The following pages showcase some examples of key organizations and groups we have had the honor of teaming up in 2016.


Progressing with Partners

A. Made the Peel Watershed a central issue in the territorial election by supporting Yukon Conservation Society and Canadian Parks and Wilderness (CPAWS) Yukon READ MORE >>

B. Achieved cancellation of Montana’s Badger-Two Medicine oil and gas leases through work with the Blackfeet Tribe and members of the Crown Conservation Initiative  READ MORE >>

C. Supported Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness’ efforts that resulted in an Idaho Republican senator proposing a wilderness area
READ MORE >>

D. Created Island Park Safe Wildlife Passage with partners in the Henry’s Fork Legacy Project  READ MORE >>

Key Progress in 2016


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Ecological education during an election

As the northern anchor of the Yellowstone to Yukon corridor in Canada, Yukon’s Peel Watershed is one of the best representations of what we work to protect. It has been a conservation concern for decades. In 2012, land-use planning stalled when the ruling government party proposed to open most of the watershed to development. However, with your support, a major turning point for the Peel was reached in 2016. 

Strategizing with our Yukon partners, Y2Y hired a contract coordinator who went door to door in Whitehorse during the run-up to a territorial election, educating residents and decision-makers on the importance of the watershed. In a place with 10,000 doors to knock on, this proved to be an impactful move. On Nov. 7, the Yukon Liberal party was elected and is committed to upholding the original plan to protect 80 per cent of the region from industrial development.

Why protection matters:

  • This vast, largely roadless wilderness is still mostly free of industrial impacts.
  • It is the sacred homeland of the First Nations of Na-Cho Nyak Dun, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Vuntut Gwitchin and Teetl’it Gwich’in.
  • As climate change becomes more pressing, the watershed will serve as a refuge for species seeking cooler temperatures.

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Protecting land with key cultural and ecological value

In Montana, Y2Y facilitated strategy, built relationships, fundraised and supported the grassroots action that contributed to collaborators supporting Montana’s Blackfeet Nation as they launched a successful campaign to defend their land against drilling. 

In November, the Blackfeet were able to celebrate the cancellation of 30-year-old leases on their sacred lands. Sally Jewell, then Secretary of the Interior, cancelled the remaining leases held by various companies on land considered sacred by the tribe. This step was critical for permanent protection of both culture and wildlife in the region.

Why protection matters: 

  • This land is the origin of the Blackfeet’s Creation Story. 
  • This region is a key headwater source.  
  • It’s also an essential linkage zone for populations of grizzlies, bighorn sheep and wolves between Glacier National Park and Bob Marshall Wilderness Area.

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Steps together toward enduring conservation

In Idaho, Y2Y provided our partners, Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, with resources and communications support as they worked to conserve another key linkage zone for animals such as grizzlies and mountain goats. Over a period of 12 years, this collaborative citizens’ group has built bipartisan support from elected officials, industry and the public, with the goal of protecting the remote wilderness of Scotchman Peaks.

We are able to work in important linkage zones like this, helping multiply efforts through partners and providing financial assistance for drumming up support, awareness and important on-the-ground work. And the efforts are seeing returns. In December, Republican U.S. Senator representing Idaho, Jim Risch, proposed to turn Scotchman Peaks into the state panhandle’s first wilderness area. Senator Risch plans to reintroduce the bill in 2017. 

Why protection matters: 

  • This region allows lynx, wolverine, grizzly bears and mountain goats to move more easily between the Bitterroot Mountains to the south, the Cabinet Mountains to the east and the Selkirks and Purcells to the north.
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It's all thanks to you

Your passion for wild spaces and wildlife is what makes our work possible. Your support helps put solutions into action to connect and protect this landscape. Solutions include overpasses that get wildlife safely across roads; electric fences around livestock; trimming fruit trees to keep bears at a safe distance from people; and restoration projects in grizzly bear habitats. 

Those are a few of the outcomes your contribution is helping with today. What’s most important is what today’s donation means for the next decade. It means having grizzlies to see, rivers to fish, wild spaces to explore and clean drinking water from our headwaters to quench our thirst. 

Like the monthly donors featured here, you make it possible to conserve one of the world’s last intact mountain ecosystems. Thank you!


speaking for those who cannot — PJ Darling

It touched my heart,” says longtime Y2Y donor P.J. Darling as she recounts her first encounter with Y2Y as an organization.

She was driving through Wyoming with her husband and parents when they came across a “beautiful” art exhibit that highlighted the large landscapes and areas of Yellowstone to Yukon.

The vision and mission of connecting this vast landscape and conserving one of the last intact mountain ecosystems in the world resonated with her. “It was at that moment the importance of open space and room for animals to move to survive became clear to me.”

The California native feels we all have a role to play in being a voice for those who don’t, “like bees, plants and animals — especially our land.” She does what she can to contribute her time, talent and resources, from teaching fellow volunteers how to plant trees or collecting trash while on walks with husband Patrick and her two dogs, to becoming a monthly supporter of Y2Y.

“Being a monthly donor is something that works for me,” explains P.J. “I feel good supporting causes like Y2Y that can do what I can’t.”

As a regular donor, P.J. says she is proud to see the impact her monthly gift is making. “I know I’m helping a very good organization do their magic,” she says. “Y2Y provides something powerful that lasts — educating the nations of Canada and U.S. on the importance and value of conservation. That is forever. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that and say: ‘I helped make that happen’?”

Her biggest wish is that people and wildlife — not just one or the other — live and thrive together. P.J. and her husband are currently searching for rural property they would one day like to donate to Y2Y, hoping to ease the migration of wildlife. P.J. also hopes to write a book on wildlife connectivity for the younger crowd.

“Children are our biggest advocates,” she says. “If we can educate the children, we have a chance at a better future.”


protecting the places he treasures — scott mcgeachy

For Scott McGeachy, there is no better place to be than the backcountry.   

“What gets me going is being in the outdoors with friends and blue sky,” he says, laughing. “I can focus on what is around me and I find that grounding. Part of it is the recharge, being out of cell range.” 

As an Albertan, he enjoys activities in all seasons, including backcountry skiing, climbing and mountain biking in his happy place. His passion for wilderness comes across clearly in his vivid descriptions of the colorful fall foliage and that deep earthy scent of the forest. This obvious passion for protected places and wild spaces is also one of the reasons he donates monthly to Y2Y.   

A long time supporter, Scott first learned of Y2Y’s vision and mission through Karsten Heuer’s book, Walking the Big Wild. The book — about an epic 18-month trek across 2,100 miles (3,380 km) of mountains, forests, and rivers from Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming to Canada’s Yukon — inspired Scott. 

As CEO of a company working on large civil engineering and infrastructure projects in urban centers, Scott helps people commute in their daily lives.His career has kept him from being in the backcountry as much as he wants in recent years, but he says if he can’t be there physically, he’s happy to be involved in other ways to protect the natural places he loves most.  “It’s the comfort of knowing that I’m able to support an organization doing fantastic work,” he explains.  

One of the things Scott enjoys most is the updates he gets from Y2Y on how his money is being spent. “As a funder in this day and age it’s nice to know where the dollars get put to good use,” he says. Updates like this keep him informed about the work we’re doing and educate him on the regions we work in. He says he especially appreciates knowing more about specific campaigns we are involved in, such as the protection of Alberta’s headwaters.

He says he has enjoyed watching Y2Y grow over the years, and appreciates being a part of supporting the work and helping protect the regions he cherishes.

“To see it develop over time is one of those wonderful things — the course of momentum has been amazing. For an organization run with a tight crew out of Canmore, the amount of work that happens is really encouraging and almost overwhelming,” he says.

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Inspiring new audiences
with the Y2Y vision

Each year, Y2Y uses myriad approaches to inspire new people to engage with the Y2Y vision, from magazine articles to social media outreach, art exhibits to science talks. 

As highways, railroads and other forms of human development continue to fragment and diminish critical wildlife habitat, it is increasingly important for us to move and inspire people by effectively communicating both problems and possible solutions. And in 2016, an awesome opportunity became available to do just that.

Five years in the making, Wild Ways: Corridors of Life saw wide release in the spring of 2016. This compelling PBS Nova documentary came via our partnership with celebrated filmmaker James Brundige. The film provides a captivating look at the need to advance large-landscape conservation, from the Serengeti to the Rocky Mountains, and features the work of Y2Y as the North American example. 

Using science, the film makes the case that protected areas are too small to preserve wide-ranging wildlife species over the long term, merely delaying extinction for animals that require large, connected sections of land to survive. 

Although the threat of extinction is daunting, audiences are moved by the innovative solutions revealed by scientists and conservationists in the film. The documentary highlights approaches — from purchasing private lands used by wildlife to building overpasses that restore and maintain viable wildlife corridors — that connect populations of wolves, grizzlies and other animals, maintaining crucial genetic diversity. Approaches such as these are at the core of Y2Y’s work.  

So far, Wild Ways has been viewed by more than three million people in 100 countries … and counting. In 2016, Y2Y hosted screenings with panel discussions in more than 10 cities including Banff, Boston, Jackson, Missoula and Vancouver. 

Additionally, the film aired continentally on PBS, Netflix and Amazon Prime. The buzz from viewers has been widespread, leading to discussions and engagement from Yellowstone to Yukon — and beyond. 

This film was a highlight of our organization’s outreach last year, along with speaking engagements, media outlets, social media and other opportunities. We are grateful to James and the First Light film crew for partnering with us to highlight this global issue and bring large-landscape conservation to the world stage.

 
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Connecting Partners
for Effective Conservation

Collaboration, science and citizen engagement are all key ways we work to solve conservation challenges across the landscape. In some areas, a critical issue is that roads impair animals’ ability to move, mate and feed. Last year, one example of progress resolving this connectivity problem in a novel way came from B.C. 

There, people engaged in citizen science, using RoadWatchBC to monitor and count wildlife spotted along highways. The launch of this three-year-long project in June 2016 included a mobile app that allows passengers to log road kill and successful crossings while traveling. This information is used to prioritize the places mitigation measures, including crossing structures, are needed. 

We collaborated on development of the app with Miistakis Institute and with local community to promote the use of the app on Highway 3. Because of the information logged on the app, along with aprevious report that prioritized 31 points with a high rate of wildlife-vehicle collisions along Alberta and B.C.’s Hwy 3, this major road is being made safer. 

Pairing targeted communications and outreach with engagement of partners and local communities on this roadway over many years has persuaded the provincial government to work on solutions in two provinces. On Alberta’s Hwy 3, to help bighorn sheep cross the road, in September 2016 the provincial transportation department installed signage, fencing and wildlife jump-outs at Crowsnest Pass — a spot where 10 per cent of the province’s bighorn deaths occurred.

Y2Y is in a unique position to share tools, knowledge and approaches to similar problems across the entire region. For example, early success helped the use of RoadWatchBC spread south, where it is now being used to collect information for Idaho Fish and Game to evaluate mitigation measures. The app is also currently being presented for use elsewhere across the Yellowstone to Yukon region. 

Such efforts will ultimately help decrease wildlife-vehicle collisions as well as associated injuries and insurance claims. The work will also help improve connectivity for wildlife such as bighorn sheep and grizzlies by providing state, provincial and federal transportation departments with key information to target where conservation actions need to be happening.

Another method proven to connect key populations of wildlife was demonstrated between three Y2Y priority areas — Central Canadian Rocky Mountains, the Cabinet-Purcell Mountain Corridor and the Crown of the Continent — and across the U.S.-Canada border. 

Here, purchasing private land has been identified as a key strategy to restore connectivity. Last year we worked with Vital Ground to secure the option to buy private land slated for residential development near Troy, Montana. Data shows this is an important crossing point for grizzlies in the area. By linking and connecting isolated islands of grizzly bear populations, this work helps ensure the bears’ genetic diversity. 

The Cabinet-Purcell Collaborative, established by Y2Y in 2006, is a trans-border network of more than 60 conservation and community groups, government agencies, scientists and individuals working together to connect and protect this vital corridor. This partnership is only possible thanks to support from key donors who understand how important it is to maintain the connectivity in this region both for wildlife and between organizations. 

Just like our work with transportation, the sharing of data, tools and knowledge helps us address conservation problems. We’re already halfway to meeting the United States Fish and Wildlife target of 100 grizzlies in the area and increasing connectivity among bear populations. Here at Y2Y we are truly excited to support these types of collaborative efforts involving numerous other partners, funders and individual donors.  

Reading the situation and being able to respond when needed is key. Whether that’s taking advantage of opportunities to improve trans-border habitat connectedness for grizzlies or knowing when to share important tools and information to improve road safety for wildlife and humans, timing is everything.

 

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Bringing balance
to a shattered landscape

While the issue is not unique to this region of the Yellowstone to Yukon corridor, the problems related to resource extraction are most pressing in the Peace Region of British Columbia. Extraction of natural resources drives local economies in Treaty 8 territory of northeast B.C., a region that is also a key priority area of the north and the narrowest part in the Yellowstone to Yukon corridor.

However, communities and researchers are increasingly recognizing a need to better monitor and mitigate the long-term impacts of resource development on the land, wildlife, and the social and physical health of residents. This landscape endures industrial energy development at a staggering level — more than 65 per cent of the Peace Region has been impacted by oil and gas development, logging, mines, large dams and other industrial infrastructure, leaving few natural areas intact. 

Y2Y’s research shows these impacts impede the ability of these lands to sustain healthy wildlife populations, threatening the long-term survival of grizzly bear, lynx, fisher, wolf, wolverine and caribou. The total loss of some caribou herds and precipitous decline of others indicate the current land uses aren’t working for wildlife.

The ongoing cycle of a boom-and-bust economy is also not working for the communities here. While northern towns depend on resource extraction for jobs, many residents recognize the imbalance between development and caring for land and wildlife, and development’s impact on maintaining sustainable communities. Those in the community who hunt, fish and recreate in the nearby mountains also have growing concerns about the decline in wildlife over the past decade. 

Y2Y has been partnering with communities to address this imbalance and consider the needs of both wildlife and residents. This process includes working with and connecting key partners such as Indigenous communities and grassroots ecotourism groups.  

Last year provided an opportunity for Y2Y to partner with First Nations to develop a cumulative-effects framework. Recognizing the role Treaty rights play in the health of ecosystems, West Moberly First Nations led a cumulative-effects framework through community workshops. The final framework is expected to be complete in 2017 and will take community land use, Treaty rights and threats from increased development into account. This process will enable better planning, support the needs of wildlife and ecosystems, and supply much-needed community-level input into decision-making on the land.

The summer of 2016 also provided our organization with an opportunity for on-the-ground conservation improvements in this area. Through a partnership with the Tumbler Ridge Global UNESCO Geopark, Y2Y enabled a grassroots community effort to diversify local ecotourism. Working to restore caribou habitat, staff and volunteers for Y2Y and the geopark removed 22 industrial batteries and other debris from abandoned sites in the Wild Hart mountain range.  

Better land-use planning and ecological restoration are two important steps towards rebalancing conservation needs on this landscape. Engagement like this offers hope that the Peace Region will support both conservation and community needs going forward. 

It is only through collaborations like these that the Yellowstone to Yukon vision becomes reality. Together we achieve much more than we can accomplish alone.

 

Partners Progress with Y2Y's Help

In 2016 Y2Y supported a number of partner projects across the Yellowstone to Yukon region, providing financial, strategic and communications help. Here are example highlights from key partnerships that helped advance our vision.

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Funders Supporting Conservation

AIG Matching Grants Program   |   Alberta Ecotrust Foundation   |   Alberta Real Estate Foundation
AmazonSmile Foundation   |   Ameriprise Financial, Inc.   |   The Brainerd Foundation   |   Bunting Family Foundation
 Butte Creek Foundation   |   The Calgary Foundation   |   Canadian Art Gallery Ltd.
Cenovus Employee FoundationCGarchitect Digital Media Corporation   |   The Chawkers Foundation   |   Chevron
Chicago Zoological Society and Brookfield Zoo   |   The Cinnabar Foundation   |   Conservation Alliance
Country Walkers   |   Cross Charitable Foundation Inc.   |   Crown Goodman Family   |   Cubizm, LLC.
DirecTV Matching Gift Center   |   Donner Canadian Foundation   |   Double C Family Foundation
Edmonton Community Foundation   |   Eleanor and Fred Winston – The Longview Foundation
Ernest J. Abele Fund of the Columbus Foundation   |   Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program
Galvin Family Fund at The Calgary Foundation   |   Google Inc.   |   Government of Alberta
Government of Canada – Canada Summer Jobs   |   Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative
Heinrich-Dahlheimer Donor Advised Fund, a Donor Advised Fund of The U.S. Charitable Gift Trust
Hewlett Packard Enterprise   |   The Heymann Foundation   |   House Family Foundation
Illinois Tool Works Foundation   |   J.N. Fyvie Family Fund
Jackson Family Fund of The Minneapolis FoundationJeffrey Dolinsky Inc.   |   The Jerome M. Kobacker Foundation
The Johnson Family Fund at The T. Rowe Price Program for Charitable Giving   |   The Kendeda Fund
LaSalle Adams Fund   |   Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory   |   Liz Claiborne Art Ortenburg Foundation
Mary and Charles Sethness Charitable Foundation   |   The McLean Foundation   |   Money / Arenz Foundation, Inc.
Mountain Equipment Cooperative (MEC)    |   Murtfeldt Charitable Foundation
Nana Environmental Fund at the Calgary Foundation   |   National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
The New York Community Trust   |   Nexen Energy ULC   |   Norcross Wildlife Foundation
NRG Research Group Inc.   |   OnwardUP Enterprises Ltd.   |   Patagonia Inc.
Peter Bachman and Janet Rice Fund of The Minneapolis Foundation
Provincial Employees Community Services Fund   |   Pumpkin Hill Foundation
Ralph and Gay Young Family Fund at Edmonton Community Foundation   |   Rayo Active Travel
RBC Blue Water Project   |   Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia   |   Sarah Palmer   |   The Scotlyn Foundation
Shaw Communications Inc.  |  The Sitka Foundation   |   Sparo   |   Stan and Judith Hall Charitable Fund
Stanley F. and Georgia M. Bachman Fund of The Minneapolis Foundation   |   Steven and Patty Glover Family Fund
Stewart Fund, held at Vancouver Foundation   |   TD Friends of the Environment Foundation
Temper of the Times Foundation   |   Towell Family Fund   |   Turner Foundation, Inc.
United Way of Calgary, Donor Choice Program   |   Vancouver Foundation   |   The Volgenau Foundation
Walton Family Foundation   |   Weeden Foundation|   Wilburforce Foundation   |   William P. Wharton Trust
Winkler Family Foundation   |   Woodcock Foundation   |   Yamnuska Mountain Tours

...and all the individuals who support our mission and vision. 

Financials

Y2Y is a transboundary, non-profit organization governed by three boards of directors. In Canada, Y2Y is both a registered charity and a not-for-profit organization through the Alberta Foundation and the Alberta Society Boards of Directors. In the United States, Y2Y is a 501(c)(3) organization through the Montana Board of Directors. 

We are supported by a broad network of foundations, government agencies, businesses and individuals. Thanks to their generosity, we completed 2016 in a strong financial position. In 2016, 79 per cent of Y2Y’s revenue directly supported conservation projects and campaigns across the region.

For more full audited financial statements, please visit our website.

Revenue

Expenses