WCS North America

Wildlife Connectivity in the Adirondacks

WCS is interested in preserving habitat connectivity within the Adirondack Park, where fragmentation and alteration of wildlife habitat on the Park’s private lands threaten to alter the Park’s biodiversity, as well as between the Park and adjacent parts of the Northern Forest.

Wide-ranging species such as moose, bobcat, and black bear require large blocks of habitat to flourish.  Other species are particularly sensitive to development, and require unbroken, interior forests to thrive.  Both types of species are vulnerable to habitat fragmentation from roads and incremental residential development.  Exurban development, or low-density rural sprawl, is one of the greatest threats to wildlife habitat connectivity within the Adirondack Park.  This development pattern, dispersed houses on 5 to 40 acre lots, creates an illusion of intact forests, but in practice it can have similar effects as much denser forms of development, fundamentally changing the ecology of the private lands of the Adirondacks by favoring more generalist and human-adapted wildlife, such as raccoons and blue jays, over more specialized and rare species, such as American marten and scarlet tanager.

WCS is also focused on connectivity between the Adirondack Park and other nearby forests to ensure that the Adirondacks do not become an ecological island.  The Adirondacks sit within the Northern Appalachian ecoregion.  Although this ecoregion contains many blocks of prime wildlife habitat, connectivity for wildlife at this scale is threatened by major highways and areas of rapid rural and urban development.  WCS is a partner in the Two Countries, One Forest and Staying Connected efforts to maintain and enhance the ecological connectivity of this transboundary ecoregion.  This is especially pressing during a period when climate change threatens to cause range shifts for many wildlife species; without adequate connectivity, species will not have room to move and adapt to a changing climate.


  • Provide clear, objective science about the impacts of exurban development, and information about the tools and development guidelines that are available to direct growth in more ecologically-friendly ways.
  • Make information about the impacts of development on wildlife accessible to decision-makers in a variety of formats, to support the implementation of smart growth approaches that protect wildlife habitat and connectivity.
  • Understand the impacts of roads on wildlife and wildlife habitats in the Adirondacks and work with planners and state agencies to minimize negative effects of vehicle traffic and transportation infrastructure. 


Impacts of Low Density, Exurban Development

Through research to understand and quantify the impacts of low density residential development in the Adirondacks, WCS is providing much-needed science to inform decision making on land-use policies and practices. Read More >>

Tools for Communities and Landowners

By translating scientific messages for local decision makers, identifying best management practices, and creating products geared for communities and landowners, WCS is working to bring the science and practice of habitat connectivity to local applications. Read More >>

Latest Publications

All Connectivity Publications >>

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Adirondack Communities and Conservation Program
Wildlife Conservation Society 132 Bloomingdale Avenue, Suite 2, Saranac Lake, NY, 12983 USA
(518) 891-8872

Key Staff

Zoe Smith
Adirondacks Landscape Coordinator
Michale Glennon
Adirondack Landscape Science Coordinator
All The Initiatives of Conserving Habitat Connectivity Staff >>