Rob Breeding talks about the importance of wildlife corridors by contrasting the Northern Rockies with the tenuous situation in California . . .
When we visit my hometown of Riverside, Calif., my daughters and I like to get some exercise running Mount Rubidoux, a semi-famous landmark in this part of the world. In the winter, especially when the smogless skies get an extra scrubbing from the Santa Ana winds, Mount Rubidoux offers unobstructed 360-degree views of Southern California’s Inland Empire.
You can’t quite see the Pacific from here, but that’s because the Santa Ana Mountains get in the way. Those mountains are where one of my old grad school profs, Paul Beier of Northern Arizona University, used radio collars to show how mountain lions use even the thinnest thread of connectivity to move between habitat islands created by encroaching suburbia. Even narrow culverts running beneath urban freeways are used by traveling wildlife.
On a clear day as I run I can see dozens of these habitat islands scattered across the Inland Empire. I distract myself from my workout by recreating in my mind the wildlife wonderland this natural landscape must have been before it became prime human habitat. I know there were valley quail everywhere, which is enough to get my attention.