Winter 2023
News from The Staying Connected Initiative
New Website and Storymap launch!
I am very happy to announce that we have launched our beautiful new website, now viewable in both English and French.

The new website provides visitors with access to connectivity resources and information on the SCI partnership. It houses our technical resource library, complete with advanced search features to filter documents by state/province and strategy. Our new website also provides access to the SCI StoryMap, an interactive and dynamic display of SCI's priority linkage areas that includes details on linkage-level partner activities and projects.

Our new website and StoryMap are the result of a tremendous collective effort, with special thanks to Josh Noseworthy, Dan Coker, and Kateri Monticone. Please enjoy perusing these fantastic new resources, and I encourage you to share widely among your networks!
SCI Sustaining Partnership Program update
Great news! SCI has received $15,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) through our Sustaining Partnership Program. The funding from the USFWS Science Applications Program will support overall SCI regional coordination while enhancing our ability to use our SCI science to inform and guide regional connectivity conservation efforts.
SCI’s Sustaining Partnership Program is now in its second year. This is the partner contributions-based fundraising model that our committee members developed to sustain ongoing regional coordination, build on SCI’s success, and take our partnership to the next level. Beyond supporting SCI regional coordination, additional revenue generated through the Sustaining Partnership Program will be used to support SCI Sustaining Partner projects. We will leverage the enhanced opportunities that result from the Sustaining Partnership Program to dramatically amplify the scale and impact of our collective efforts throughout the Northern Appalachian to Acadian Region.
A big shout-out and thank you to our 2022 Sustaining Partners, listed below. We hope to add your organization's name to our list for 2023!

Follow the link to learn how YOU can become a Sustaining Partner of SCI.
New project to address barriers to species movement in the Northern and Central Appalachians

The Nature Conservancy has secured $250,000 in private funds to launch an 18-month initiative to connect IIJA funding to priority barrier mitigation work ‘on the ground’.

The U.S. Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA) presents a major opportunity to advance barrier mitigation work for both terrestrial and aquatic species, as culvert replacements and wildlife crossing structures can be integrated into road infrastructure upgrades.

The new 'addressing barriers to species movement' project will include a combination of connectivity mapping and road segment/stream crossing prioritization, Habitats and Highways trainings, best practices guidance, and customized support for agencies to access IIJA funds. This work will focus primarily on terrestrial connectivity opportunities while also highlighting potential intersections with aquatic connectivity and resiliency.

This new TNC-led effort will build on the longstanding efforts of our SCI partners in the region by advancing connectivity and transportation work with agency partners in the U.S. portion of SCI's geography (NY, VT, MA, NH and ME), while extending the model to NJ, CT and potentially PA. Addressing major barriers to species movement between the Central and Northern Appalachians will help to secure large-scale wildlife connectivity for the benefit of lands, waters, and communities across the greater region.
A "strategy mapping" approach to connectivity conservation
Figure credit: From “A framework to select strategies for conserving and restoring connectivity in complex landscapes,” by D. Richard Cameron, Carrie A. SChloss, David M. Theobald, and Scott A. Morrison, 2022, Conservation Science and Practice, 4(6), The Society for Conservation Biology (
A new study aims to address the challenge of going from mapping and modeling connectivity to implementing actual projects on the ground.

Maps and models are helpful for identifying potential corridors, but more information is needed to determine which conservation strategies to pursue in a given scenario.
The study's authors demonstrate a “strategy mapping” approach that accounts for both a given site’s relative connectivity as well as its land use and ownership (see figure above). Using a “moving window” version of the popular Circuitscape modeling program, the authors sought to not only identify priority connectivity locations in their study are, but also the strategies most likely to be effective at those locations given both social and environmental constraints on wildlife movement.
See the original article where I learned of this study at
The Nature Conservancy and Trust for Public Land partner to enhance connectivity, carbon sequestration, and outdoor access in Western Maine

Top: Hiking on Mount Abraham. © Mark Berry/The Nature Conservancy
Bottom: Map of project area. © Dan Coker/The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Trust for Public Land (TPL) recently partnered to permanently protect 2 large parcels, adding 13,500 more acres of publicly accessible land to an assemblage of connected, conserved lands totaling nearly 100,000 acres in the High Peaks of Western Maine.
The Nature Conservancy has identified the High Peaks region - and the Quill Hill to Perham Stream properties within it - as priority landscapes for enhancing carbon storage and the ability for species to adapt to climate change. As two of the last unprotected large properties in a desirable location, Quill Hill and Perham Stream are uniquely vulnerable to development and permanent loss of public access.

The High Peaks is one of Maine’s most popular outdoor recreation destinations – home to 10 of Maine’s 14 highest peaks, hundreds of miles of trails, two of Maine’s largest ski areas, and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Yet despite its popularity, only 15% of the High Peaks region is protected, and only some of that protected land has guaranteed public access. Compounding the lack of publicly accessible protected land, this region is experiencing an unprecedented boom in real estate and development, making timely conservation action especially important.

The Quill Hill to Perham Stream properties lie within the large SCI linkage area joining Western Maine with Northern New Hampshire, Southern Quebec, and Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. In protecting these lands, TNC and TPL are expanding a key node of conserved lands along the Appalachian Corridor – the most significant pathway for ecological connectivity in the eastern U.S. Conserving Quill Hill and Perham Stream will provide essential wildlife habitat in a warming climate, help keep carbon in the trees and soil where it belongs, and ensure outdoor access for all.
Northeast Transportation and Wildlife Conference highlights
The 2022 Northeast Transportation and Wildlife Conference (NETWC) in Atlantic City, NJ was a chance for SCI to gather old partners, engage new ones, and learn more about emerging opportunities and best practices to reduce wildlife vehicle collisions and enhance wildlife passage.
We held a well-attended SCI panel session titled “The Staying Connected Initiative: leveraging lessons learned, communities of practice, and public-private partnerships to advance regional connectivity.” Our panelists included a mix of new and long-time SCI agency partners who each presented their successes, challenges, and lessons learned through working on connectivity in their states. Click the link to view a recording of the session.

Below are but a few of the many other highlight presentations from the conference:
All conference sessions were recorded and are accessible via the NETWC 2022 schedule located in the conference archives. In addition to our panel at NETWC, SCI also co-produced with Wildlands Network the document “Beyond Roads: Funding Opportunities to Improve Large Landscape-Scale Connectivity” - a list of non-transportation related U.S. funding opportunities that was included in the NETWC program.
We are keeping up the momentum from NETWC and looking forward to the International Conference on Ecology and Transportation (ICOET), June 4-8, 2023 in Burlington, Vermont. Mark your calendars!
SCI partners lead collaborative efforts to monitor wildlife and climate in the Adirondacks and beyond
Moose captured on a trail camera in the Central Adirondacks. Photo by Stephen Langdon, courtesy of the AIM Network.
SCI partners are currently at the forefront of two, large scale camera-trap monitoring projects in the region.

NYSDEC wildlife biologist and SCI partner Paul Jensen started the Adirondack Inventory and Monitoring Camera Trap Network (AIM) in 2020 with the goals of collecting and sharing wildlife population data, monitoring species particularly sensitive to climate change, and giving students in the area hands-on education and training opportunities.

AIM’s network of 50 partners is currently monitoring over 200 trail cameras deployed throughout the 6-million-acre Adirondack Park, with a special focus on the High Peaks and backcountry areas. AIM is closely linked to the Northeast Wildlife Monitoring Network (NEWMN), a broader monitoring effort that includes over 100 partners monitoring about 500 trail cameras in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maine.

AIM and NEWMN both employ a specialized trail camera setup developed by Alexej Siren, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Vermont. By hammering a 5-foot stake into the ground at a standard depth and within view of the trail camera, researchers can collect snow depth data as well as wildlife observations.

The snow depth data is of interest to researchers outside the camera trap networks, including hydrologists and climatologists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association who are using it to validate and refine their predictive models. Other researchers and computer scientists at the University of Vermont are exploring the use of artificial intelligence to identify wildlife species captured on camera, and also working with the U.S. Geological Survey to develop a database for the vast amounts of photos collected through the efforts of AIM and NEWMN.

Follow the link to a longer article on the AIM network in the Adirondack Explorer to learn more!
New tool maps Northeast bird habitat to support regional conservation efforts
Top: Wood Thrush. © John Petruzzi/Macaulay Library
Bottom: Wood Thrush abundance percentile within its forest habitat where cool colors indicate lower abundance and warm colors a higher abundance. © Northeast Bird Habitat Conservation Initiative
The Northeast Bird Habitat Conservation Initiative recently created a new tool to aid northeastern conservation practitioners and organizations in their efforts.

Showcasing Cornell Lab of Ornithology eBird Status & Trends (S&T) data for 43 priority bird species across five different habitat types, this new conservation mapping tool can support conservation activities including habitat management and stewardship planning, land prioritization and acquisition strategy, and landowner and community engagement.

The Northeast Bird Habitat Conservation Initiative is a collaborative effort between The Regional Conservation Partnership (RCP) Network (which includes SCI), Audubon, Highstead Foundation, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. GIS experts at Harvard Forest and Highstead along with Cornell Lab scientists created simplified versions of the eBird modeled abundance bird data and made it freely available.

Birds are rarely considered in connectivity conservation efforts, which typically center large mammals, fish, and amphibians. However, landscape and habitat connectivity are as essential for birds as they are for all species, in some cases even more so because of the long distances many bird species migrate and the need for “stopover” habitat along the way. Moreover, birds are in trouble, with steep declines across many species.

It is important to note that many people like birds, and because birds are more noticeable and familiar than other types of wildlife, they make good “ambassador” or “umbrella" species for conservation efforts intended to benefit broader suites of wildlife. Landowners can also be encouraged or incentivized to manage their properties for certain forest stands to benefit specific bird species and associated wildlife who require that habitat.

So, even if birds are not your focus, consider this another potentially useful tool in your conservation toolbox!
Have a story for the next SCI newsletter?
Events or updates our partners should know about?
The Staying Connected Initiative brings together a unique assemblage of government, non-government and academic partners to conserve, restore, and sustain landscape connections across the Northern Appalachian/Acadian Forest region. We envision an ecologically interconnected and resilient landscape across the Northern Appalachian/Acadian Forest region of the eastern U.S. and Canada that sustains healthy lands, waters, wildlife and vibrant human communities.