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Y2Y: Yellowstone to Yukon

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November 30 and December 1, 1998 -- Y2Y stands for Yellowstone-to-Yukon, a conservation proposal from Canadian and US environmental organizations. It was conceived several years ago, when a Calgary lawyer and outdoorsman, Harvey Locke, recognized that the northern Rocky Mountains are already largely protected by US and Canadian parks. They are probably the least altered habitat on the continent - indeed, some of the least altered in the world.

Large wild predators still exist there - bears and wolves. Their populations are fairly healthy, but as roads and increased development close off some sections of the Rockies, the animal populations will be isolated from each other. And isolated populations are vulnerable and tend to die out.

The goal of Y2Y - now a coalition of more than 140 environmental groups - is to prevent that from happening.

Part One: Preserving the Rockies

Conservationists propose a series of wildlife corridors to link populations of bear, wolves, and other large predators all the way from Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming to Canada's Yukon Territory on the border of Alaska. The entire area encompasses almost 500,000 square miles. Using dedicated, animals-only overpasses and underpasses, Y2Y would seek to create wildlife areas like those of the African plains - but far larger.

Join NPR's Alex Chadwick as he makes a Radio Expeditions visit to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, in the heart of the Northern Rockies to see the promise and the problems of Y2Y.

Listen to part one, broadcast Monday, November 30, 1998 on Morning Edition, as Alex talks with a highway engineer, a local Banff conservationist, and the founder of Y2Y, Harvey Locke. Then he joins wildlife biologist Karsten Heuer, who is trekking the entire 2,200 miles from Yellowstone to Yukon. Heuer is trying to build support for Y2Y, while surveying the Northern Rockies to see the project's real possibilities.

Part Two: On the trail with Karsten Heuer

In part two, broadcast Tuesday, December 1, 1998 on Morning Edition, Alex reports on the spectacular wonders of the Rocky Mountain ecosystem - great mountains framing valley meadows, high mountain passes, beautiful clear rivers. Y2Y advocates say this habitat can be preserved for people and wildlife, and biologist Heuer says he's finding strong evidence to support that belief in his epic trek from Yellowstone to Yukon.

Most of the ecosystem is intact, he says, far more than people would think. There are key pressure points, however, where planning in the next several year will be crucial to keep the Rockies intact. Wildlife corridors may be the solution. Listen as Alex ends his four-day ride, hearing Karsten promise to resume his trek on skis next spring, with the hope of reaching the Yukon next September.

Part Three: Karsten Heuer Completes His Trek

On September 6, 1999, Morning Edition host Bob Edwards again talks to Canadian naturalist Karsten Heuer. This past weekend (September 4, 1999) Heuer ended the trek from Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. state of Wyoming to the Yukon in Northwestern Canada. NPR followed Heuer on part of his journey last December when Alex Chadwick took a National Geographic Society/NPR Radio Expedition into Canada's Banff National Park. Listen as Karsten Heuer describes his experiences and what he learned from the 2,112 mile hike.

Rockies Panorama Photos by Charles Thompson Rockies Panorama
Photo: Charles Thompson


On the trail On the trail



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