Author: Susan B. Eirich

Organization: Earthfire Institute

Title: Earthfire Institute Introduces Reconnection Ecology

The current building boom in Teton Valley endangers vital wildland that is home to great gray owls, hawks, cutthroat trout, bears, elk, cougar and many other species. Acquiring land to maintain critical wildlife corridors is an important tool used to limit habitat destruction and the impact of commercial development.  In the spring of 2020, 120 acres of critical streamside habitat in the South Leigh Creek wildlife corridor became available for sale.  This property connects a wildlife sanctuary maintained by Earthfire Institute directly to the Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) migration corridor. As a small organization, Earthfire Institute  was able to move quickly and reach out to supporters. Within three weeks, the Institute secured a private loan and closed on the property in Fall 2020.

This portion of the Y2Y wildlife corridor will forever remain a vital migration lifeline under Earthfire’s stewardship, or in the event of a loan default or closure of the Institute, our loan agreement ensures that the private foundation administering the loan will preserve and maintain the land. Today, wildlife of all sizes, including moose, elk, pine martens, and black bears, pass through this protected habitat moving between the Teton River and the national forests and parks to the east. Webcams document the vibrant life within, which we post regularly. However, this land purchase only protected a small portion of the corridor.  Further efforts to expand the corridor could benefit multiple wildlife species.  We are working to protect more portions of this last best wildlife corridor in Teton Valley and keep it connected to the larger Y2Y system.

When we give real importance to wilderness and wild beings, we will all thrive: humans, plants, and animals alike. Through the Reconnection Ecology approach we are pioneering, we increasingly recognize our interconnectedness with Earth’s ecosystems, leading us to naturally expand our sense of community to include all living beings in our thinking and planning.

View a short video here.

Photo credit: Susan B. Eirich

A licensed psychologist, biologist and educator, Dr. Susan Eirich has taught at universities around the world, worked in maximum security prisons, developed a university counseling center, directed a Nature Conservancy Preserve, and lived in remote corners of Nepal, the Mid and Far East, the Northwest Territories and the Amazon rainforest. Her goal is always to see through other’s eyes as a way to enhance understanding between cultures, peoples and species. She received a B.S. in Biology from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York; M.A. degree in Psychology from New School for Social Research, New York, and her Ph.D. in Psychology from University of Kentucky. Earthfire Institute is a wildlife sanctuary and retreat center that currently provides lifetime care for wild animals native to the US Rocky Mountains including wolves, bears, wild cats, bison, and more. She founded Earthfire in 2000 in order to give a voice to wildlife and help people find their own natural voice. Earthfire’s work is to help us reawaken our bond with our Earth through a pioneering approach called Reconnection Ecology, motivating us to protect wildlife and nature.