Chicago Wilderness: A New Force in Urban Conservationa


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    This paper is based on a previous paper of the same title published in 2002 in the Annals of the Missouri Botanic Garden89: 153-163.

Address for correspondence: Elizabeth McCance, Conservation Programs, Chicago Wilderness, 8 S. Michigan, Suite 900, Chicago, IL 60603. Voice: 312-580-2138; fax: 312-346-5606.


Abstract: In 1996, a coalition of diverse and determined organizations launched a new initiative in the Chicago region. Our vision? Chicago Wilderness: a thriving mosaic of natural areas, connected by greenways and wildlife corridors, embedded in the nation's third largest metropolis. In this vision, the region's human communities reclaim a cultural tradition of protecting and restoring the globally outstanding natural communities that enrich our lives. Today, more than 170 organizations join forces to transform this vision into reality. A regional biodiversity recovery plan, the result of 3 years of assessment and planning by scientists, land managers, educators, and policy strategists, sets priorities and determines the lines of action for the coalition. This regional agenda stems from our vision and recovery goals for each ecological community; it encourages targeted research initiatives that focus on characterizing our native biological diversity and on analyzing elements critical to its recovery. Ultimately, though, the long-term survival of our natural wealth rests on the support from the public. Although the challenges to conservation educators and communicators are many, Chicago Wilderness allows us to work together in understanding our audiences, channeling our resources, and creating novel approaches to engage the widest public in our conservation efforts.