CLAYTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — Recent conservation efforts in the North Country are looking to expand wildlife’s biggest animal highway east of the Rocky Mountains.

The Thousand Island Land Trust recently acquired a significant plot of land in the Frontenac Arch wildway, along the Algonquin to Adirondack corridor with hopes to expand conservation efforts and wildlife protection. 

“We identified both properties and realize, wow, we have an opportunity to see these lands protected,” stated TILT Assistant Director and Director of Land Conservation Spencer Busler. “Meaning that they wouldn’t be unsustainable harvesting, they wouldn’t be subdivided and fragmented up into smaller pieces, wouldn’t be extracted, there wouldn’t be any mining or anything like that on the properties moving forward.”

The land was previously on the open market, but was quickly picked up by the Land Trust, as it was deemed an opportunity to connect tropical habitats to the northern parts of Canada. 

But how does this plot contribute to the animal highway? TILT leaders said to think of it like a puzzle.

TILT Director of Development and Communications Terra Bach related it to a “puzzle piece.”

“If you’re envisioning the front-end park, when you look at the map, there’s a huge barrier and that’s the Great Lakes; while the Great Lakes are amazing, animals have to migrate and you can’t migrate over giant lakes,” shared Bach. “So it’s this puzzle that we’re trying to put together so they can have a pathway.”

Busler added, “We have these islands. And these islands service stepping stones to cross the great St Lawrence River.”

These efforts will not only help moose, fox, birds and turtles migrate, but it will also help mitigate the impacts of climate change. 

“These lands are one they’re identified as climate change resilient, but two, you know, we’re dealing with rapidly changing climate and experts are saying that by the end of the century, the Adirondack park is going to be more like Richmond, Virginia,” stated Busler. “So we have a lot of species that rely on those cold winters. And so they’re going to have to go somewhere and they’re going to travel more. And so by conserving this corridor, we’re making sure they have a safe highway to get to a place where they can live and thrive.”

The Frontenac Arch wildway consist of forests, wetlands, grasslands and open-water habitats. The conservation lands are located across Northern New York.