Tails of Two Cities: Wildlife Connectivity From the Bay to LA

Wildlife need more than a patch of healthy habitat – they need connected landscapes in order to survive and thrive. Connected habitats are critical for animals to move safely across the landscape to find food, water, and shelter. They also need room to roam in order to mate and to maintain healthy, genetically diverse populations. However, many obstacles to their movement threaten their long-term survival including habitats that are fragmented by development, housing, roads and freeways, fences, and other man-made barriers.

From the Bay Area to Los Angeles, conservation groups are working hard to not only protect and enhance critical habitat for our local wildlife, but ensure that wildlife can move throughout these areas to ensure their resilience in the face of a changing climate. 

“Flow of Life” this map shows the areas of highest wildlife flow across the Santa Cruz Mountains to the West, Coyote Valley and into Diablo mountains to the East.

Join us as three scientists from the National Wildlife Federation, Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, and POST share the work they are doing in their respective regions to connect wildlife across the state. They’ll also talk about the many organizations working together on these projects including the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, POST and the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency.

Join POST and our conservation partners for an interactive panel discussion exploring the importance of habitat connections for wildlife like mountain lions, bobcats, and many other animals. Our expert panelists will discuss efforts taking place in the Bay Area and in Southern California including the Laurel Curve wildlife crossing under Highway 17, efforts in Coyote Valley and the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing at Liberty Canyon on 101 in Southern California. You don’t want to miss this interesting opportunity to learn about the habitat connectivity issues that wildlife face, and dive deep into the specific projects that conservation groups are taking on to build a more connected and healthy ecosystem in California.

About Our Speakers

Marian Vernon – Wildlife Linkages Program Manager, POST
As the Wildlife Linkages Program Manager for POST, Marian works to protect and enhance connectivity for wildlife through land transactions, restoration and wildlife crossing infrastructure projects in partnerships with public agencies and other organizations. Prior to POST, Marian spent four years with Point Blue Conservation Science focused on wet meadow restoration, land protection, and climate-smart conservation in the Sierra Nevada. She holds a Master’s of Environmental Science degree from the Yale School of the Environment. Her thesis work explored elk and grizzly bear management and policy in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Beth Pratt – California Regional Executive Director, National Wildlife Federation
Beth Pratt has worked in environmental leadership roles for over 25 years, and in two of the country’s largest national parks: Yosemite and Yellowstone. As Regional Executive Director of the California Regional Center of the National Wildlife Federation, “I have the best job in the world” she says. “While advocating for the state’s remarkable animals, I get to travel around California and spend time with condors, mountain lions, porpoises, pika, and foxes, and work with some amazing people who help wildlife thrive.” She has given a TEDx talk about coexisting with wildlife called, “How a Lonely Cougar in Los Angeles Inspired the World,” and is featured in the new documentary, “The Cat that Changed America.”

Sarah Newkirk – Executive Director, Land Trust of Santa Cruz County
An energetic conservation strategist with a passion for innovation, collaboration, and communication, Sarah Newkirk finds joy in bringing nature into communities by uncovering the myriad values that the land has for people. Sarah holds a J.D. (magna cum laude) and a M.S. in Marine Environmental Science. She served as Law Clerk to the Hon. Thomas Griesa, District Judge, Southern District of New York. She was the first Schwartz Public Policy Fellow with the Natural Resources Defense Council, and has worked as a litigator, policy advocate, and researcher with a wide range of environmental NGOs in both New York and California.

About Our Organizers

Peninsula Open Space Trust protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all.  Since 1977, POST has protected over 82,000 acres in San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz Counties.

National Wildlife Federation works across the country to unite Americans from all walks of life in giving wildlife a voice. We’ve been on the front lines for wildlife since 1936, fighting for the conservation values that are woven into the fabric of our nation’s collective heritage.

Land Trust of Santa Cruz County is dedicated to protecting and caring for the lands we love.  We protect both working lands, like farms and timberland, and natural lands with high conservation value – thus protecting water supplies, wildlife habitats, and open space.

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District is an independent special district in the San Francisco Bay Area that has preserved a regional greenbelt system of over 65,000 acres of public land and manages 26 open space preserves.

Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority works to conserve the natural environment, support agriculture, and connect people to nature, by protecting open spaces, natural areas, and working farms and ranches for future generations. 

Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency leads the implementation of the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Plan (Habitat Plan). The Habitat Plan is a 50-year regional plan to protect endangered species and natural resources while allowing for future development in Santa Clara County.

Midpen logo

This event is part of POST’s community event series, which is open to the general public as well as POST donors. We hope you’ll join us! We also curate a separate series of private events for our donors. Learn how you can support POST here: openspacetrust.org/support-post

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