all images: Wildlands Network
I'm all for epic journeys, and I'm all for conserving wildlife habitat, so I was pretty excited to get the opportunity to sit down with John Davis of the Wildlands Network to talk about his roughly 7,000 mile human-powered journey from the Florida Keys and, by mid-November, into Canada's Gaspé Peninsula, hopefully on cross country skis.
While it's an undoubted athletic accomplishment, the real purpose is educational: Raising awareness in the public about the need for interconnected wildlife habitat and in the case of John experiencing first hand how much of the East Coast is yet undeveloped and in need of protection.
When I met with him in New York, he was about 5,000 miles into the trip, which he has so far undertaken by a foot, bicycle, and canoe or kayak. The whole trip has been dubbed TrekEast.
Davis describes the purpose of the journey:
Its aimed at promoting the idea of an Eastern Wildway, a network of linked wildlife habitats throughout the eastern United States and southeastern Canada. To achieve that will not just require a network of land, but a network of people protecting those lands. I would urge anybody who supports this idea to get on the Wildlands Network website and get involved. There are lots of ways to help. We still do have a chance to save our natural heritage in the eastern United States, even though much of the landscape. We really need to get more protection on the ground as soon as possible.
Protection of Private Lands, Waterway Conservation Critically Important
As for the themes he's seeing, traveling pretty slowly over the whole eastern seaboard:
Some of the themes that are woven through this whole trek are that private lands conservation is absolutely critical. In the East, where most of the land is privately owned, there's no way in the near term that we're going to have wildlife habitat network of sufficient size and connectivity only on public lands. Protecting our natural heritage is going to have to depend heavily on good private land stewardship%