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Cascadia Biodiversity Watch, a proposed project, is one of five finalists chosen for the Colorado State University’s Salazar Center’s Connectivity Challenge.

The project would be a first of its kind planning and spatial tool for the Cascadia bioregion built using Google Earth and other open source tools to provide dynamic maps of land use, landscape integrity, connectivity, and map how ecosystems are changing or projected to change in real time. Users could track habitat for at-risk species and design new patterns of land use to reduce extinction risks for endangered specie types.

NASA | Creative Commons 2.0

The project team RESOLVE would create the tool with a broad coalition of climate partners including First Nations, universities and non-profit organizations. If awarded the final prize, the team would receive $100,000 to jumpstart the program. They one of five teams across North America to be selected as a finalist out of 46 teams from across Mexico, the United States and Canada.

The winner will be chosen after virtual presentations from the different teams at the Salazar Center’s second annual symposium on September 16th, 2020. The Connectivity Challenge is the Salazar Center’s Conservation Impact Prize, which was intended to help spur new and innovative approaches for natural conservation efforts. The winning team will be chosen based on “demonstrating the greatest potential to realize landscape-scale connectivity that, in turn, benefits habitats, builds resilience and improves the health of natural systems.”

Other finalists include:

Birds Connect Us: Empowering Communities through Migratory Bird Technology

Team: National Audubon Society. Based in the Great Lakes region of the U.S., this team would engage communities of color in citizen science, while providing opportunities to develop educational STEM experiences. They plan to establish wildlife tracking stations in urban communities as focal points for a series of activities co-developed with community-based organizations.

Catalyzing Connectivity for Tribal Cultural and Community Resilience

Team: Climate Science Alliance. Based in southern California, where conservation activities are often difficult to achieve in the face of increasing development pressures. Recognizing that tribal communities in the region are among the most susceptible to climate change impacts —but most likely to be left out of land-use planning conversations — this team proposes a collaborative effort to enhance landscape-scale conservation efforts and advance tribal resilience.

Bacanora for Bats: Binational Conservation and Sustainable Agave Spirits

Team: Borderlands Restoration Network. Based in Sonora. A collaborative partnership of universities, herbaria, government agencies, local policy regulators, nonprofits and bacanora producers and consumers in Mexico and the U.S. They hope to create a sustainability certification for bacanora producers, a policy initiative that could prevent further ecological degradation, while at the same time celebrating regional food heritage and promoting a restorative economy.

Restoring Mine Lands for Habitat Connectivity in the Central Appalachians

Team: The Nature Conservancy. Based in Appalachia. Restore landscapes damaged by the mining legacy in Central Appalachia, a region of the eastern U.S. critical to supporting ecosystem resilience in the face of climate change. This team hopes to use innovative landscape-scale mapping and a cost-benefit analysis to determine priority sites, the restoration of which would help sustain healthy ecosystems, support local economies, and enhance climate change adaptation.

NASA | Creative Commons 2.0

Visit the Connectivity Challenge website

The Center’s 2020 International Symposium on Conservation Impact will highlight best-in-class examples in North American cities of enhancing natural systems to improve community health and support climate resilience. It will serve as a continuation and extension of the Center’s 2019 symposium. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on large gatherings, the symposium will be held virtually to ensure the health and safety of all participants.

Connectivity Challenge Prize Finalist Pitch Event: September 16
  • 8:30am-12pm MT
  • $5 per person through September 4, after which the price increases
Working and Communicating Effectively in Rural Communities Workshop: September 16
  • 1-4:30pm MT
  • $20 per person, limited to 40 participants
Symposium on Conservation Impact: September 17
  • 8:30am-3pm MT
  • $20 per person for nonprofits and CSU faculty, staff, and students and $25 regular rate per person through September 4, after which the price

The ultimate Connectivity Challenge will take place September 16th and is open virtually to the public. Check it out at: this website or tickets are available: salazarcenter.colostate.edu/events/2020-symposium.

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