“As you go further north into Canada, those are protected as national parks. But just about half of them have no formal protected status,” Jones said. “We became interested in trying to build a constituency for those areas. That turned into this book.”
Through their journey, the two found themselves finding several species of animals that were once abundant in New England but, as the area went through intense development, receded north into protected areas.
“As a New Englander, it’s always exciting to see the species that used to be in New England,” Jones said. “These mountain ranges in Quebec are still strongholds for mountain caribou.”
Now, with the book published and reaching other markets, the two are returning to their roots, at least to some extent.
“When we were in Andover, we were involved in some of the turtle studies going on,” Jones said. “Next year or so, we’ll work up and down the east coast, trying to identify remaining populations and get the stakeholders on board to make sure the turtles persist.”
Turtles represent an interesting dichotomy in our world, the duo said.
“Turtles have a special challenge ahead of them because they’re so long lived,” Willey said. “They live so much longer than any of the other animals around us.”
“These turtles that people see laying in sandboxes or in the back yard may be older than they are,” Jones added, “but it’s interesting to see how quickly they can be hit (by cars) on the road.”
One goal “is figuring out how much they’ve declined and where the populations are,” Jones said. “The other is prioritizing land protection and getting a baseline estimate so we can measure change over time in the population and see how fast they’re declining, and over time respond accordingly based on what the populations are doing.”
For more on the Eastern Alpine Guide, visit easternalpine.org.