Spine of the North American Continent

The region—one of the last intact, large mountain ecosystems on the planet—is home to the greatest diversity of mammalian carnivores and ungulates in North America, world-renowned national parks and wilderness areas, and houses the headwaters of many of the continent's largest rivers. The global wildlife conservation value of the area is a product of many factors, including an amazing diversity of habitat types and a concentration of protected areas. It needs a conservation vision and actions to match the landscape.


Today, this rich wilderness faces threats from, among other things, oil and gas exploration, transportation infrastructure, the impacts of non-industrial human activity (from residential development to agricultural expansion), and increasing energy demands for non-industrial uses.

Our Goal

Ensure that the existing global wildlife conservation value remains intact.

How Will We Get There?

To do this, we aim to expand and connect protected areas to cover at least 20% of the region. Our strategies include:

Why WCS?

WCS is uniquely positioned thanks to our collaborative wildlife conservation approach, and our long-term expertise and presence in the Rocky Mountains, from Colorado's San Juan Mountains in the south to Canada's boreal mountains up north.

170 miles

Each spring and fall, hundreds of pronghorn migrate 170 miles to and from their important summer range in Grand Teton National Park. All of the pronghorn in Grand Teton National Park depend on this single corridor for their seasonal migration. Thanks to WCS science and our collaborative approach, in 2008, the “Path of the Pronghorn” became the first federally designated migration route. With this designation, thousands of acres of conservation easements, and a spectacularly success wildlife overpass, this corridor is now secure.

7 fold expansion

WCS studies provided a solid scientific basis for revising the boundaries of Canada's Nahanni National Park and played a central role in Canada’s decision in June 2009 to expand Nahanni National Park Reserve. The decision enlarged the park nearly seven-fold, from 4,822 square kilometers to 31,000. This made the park one of the largest in the world—3.5 times the size of Yellowstone National Park—with no roads and no major trails.

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Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

On Our Strategies

Develop a Landscape-Scale Conservation Vision

Actions will include using our science, conservation leadership, and collaborative approach together to inspire and inform creation and expansion of protected areas, creation of a network of interconnecting wildlife corridors, and the drive to restore beavers and bison to their role as essential ecosystem engineers.

Continue to Develop and Present the Best Available Science

In addition to groundbreaking research, this also includes bringing other leading scientists together around a consensus on priority conservation actions, and ensuring that all parties have access to the best available information by way of professional papers, presentations, and general media.

Aid Protected Area Expansion and Creation

We'll use our collaborative approach to help non-traditional partners, including Native Americans, First Nations and private landowners, find ways to play a greater role in landscape protections; our capacity building efforts will engage a wide range of partners to develop and implement region-wide as well as site-specific conservation actions.

Read more:
WCS North America


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