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Resilient Habitats: Ecosystems

Adirondacks to Acadia

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Canadian lynx (Lynx canadensis)
The forestlands blanketing northern New York, New England, and eastern Canada represent the largest remaining stretch of temperate broad-leafed and mixed forests in the United States. Covering millions of acres, this forest belt contains thousands of miles of rivers and streams and provides habitat for a rich diversity of wildlife.

But these forests, stretching from New York State's Adirondack Mountains through Maine's North Woods and beyond into Acadia (the name originally given to French lands in Maine and Canada's Maritime provinces), are highly vulnerable to climate change. Tree species that cannot withstand warmer temperatures will become scarce or die out, and animals that rely on these trees for their survival will be forced to adapt or migrate.

Among these animals is the rare and elusive Canadian Lynx. This wildcat, designated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as "threatened" in the lower 48 states, needs large expanses of forest to hunt and den. The Sierra Club is working to protect habitat and wildlife migration routes from the Adirondacks to Acadia to ensure that animals like the lynx will continue to inhabit the region.

At the heart of this ecosystem is the Maine Woods, the largest expanse of contiguous northern forest east of the Mississippi. Comprising some 10 million acres, the Maine Woods includes some of New England's last old growth forests and designated lynx habitat. Ninety-five percent of Maine's forestlands are privately owned, and in addition to climate change, threats to the region include non-sustainable logging practices and commercial development on an unprecedented scale. Protecting the Maine Woods by conserving vital core habitats and the corridors that will link these to existing public lands is one of the Sierra Club's highest national conservation priorities.

Further west, upstate New York's Adirondacks are famous for pristine mountain lakes, thousands of miles of hiking trails, and outdoor recreation opportunities. Adirondack Park, created in 1892 by the State of New York, is a unique mixture of public and private lands. Bald eagles, moose, beavers, bobcats, and a host of migratory songbirds inhabit its 6.1 million acres. But the area faces threats from commercial development and climate change. The Sierra Club is fighting two huge development projects in the Adirondacks.

Between the Adirondacks and the Maine Woods lie the Green Mountains of Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Much of the land is in National Forest, and the Sierra Club was instrumental in the recent passage of new wilderness bills in both states. And on March 16, 2010, a five-year Sierra Club campaign ended in victory when Maine Governor John Baldacci signed into law a Comprehensive Land Use Plan for the Maine Woods, including strong protective language fought for by the Club's Maine Woods Campaign.

Among the Sierra Club's objectives for the Adirondacks to Acadia Ecosystem are:

  • Getting New England and New York governors to adopt strong regional policy on wildlife corridors
  • Gaining designation of the "Great Maine Forest" as one of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's "Treasured Landscapes"
  • Helping land trusts acquire 250, 000 acres of prime wild forests in Maine

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