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Bozeman, Montana – May 5, 2010—Oboz Footwear today announced its sponsorship of “Connecting the Gems,” an ecological expedition by explorer-filmmakers Deia Schlosberg and Gregg Treinish.Schlosberg and Treinish—named 2008 National Geographic Adventurers of the Year for Across the Andes, the first recorded trek of the 7800-mile spine of the Andes—will collect data and document the ecological connectivity between two largely intact wildlife regions:the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in Montana and Wyoming, and the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho. Schlosberg and Treinish will depart on their journey on July 6, 2010 from the eastern edge of Yellowstone National Park near Cody, Wyoming and will walk westward for six weeks, traversing a distance of approximately 400 miles. Their journey will end near Elk City, Idaho.
“We are pleased to support Gregg and Deia in this important research,” said Taylor Keeley of Oboz. “Their efforts will bring important insights and information on how the human population of this region can do better by the wildlife that lives here and improve their odds for survival for generations to come.”
Their goals of the expedition are multi-faceted: First and foremost, the trek will uncover the barriers to ecosystem connectivity, the conditions of key habitats, and the perspectives of the regions’ stakeholders and citizens. Secondly, scientific data will be collected throughout the trek, supplementing current knowledge of wildlife populations, activity and movements so that scientists and government agencies can focus their efforts on corridors most in need of planning and protection. Finally, the duo will record the entire journey on film to portray the on-the-ground conditions they encounter that inhibit or promote wildlife migration and dispersal.A professional quality film will be produced and used to build awareness, involvement and support for protecting and restoring key routes that will help ensure the genetically healthy and diverse populations of major species, including grizzly bear, wolves, moose, mountain lion and wolverine.
“This is the last region in the lower 48 where long range dispersal and migration routes for animals is possible,” said Treinish. “Their ability to move is key to a stronger, healthier genetic pool.So here, if we can connect the gems, we can give grizzlies, wolves and wolverines their best chance for long term survival.”
Deia, who is 30 and Treinish, age 28, are uniquely qualified to mount the Connecting the Gems expedition. Treinish is a wildlife biologist who recently completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Ecology and Evolution from Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana.Schlosberg is mid-way through earning a degree in Science and Natural History Filmmaking.The Bozeman residents are avid adventurers and explorers, as their unique two-year trek through the Andes proved.
“The trek in the Andes was an incredible experience,” said Treinish. “But we wanted to incorporate conservation work into our next expedition, so we approached regional conservation groups and asked ‘Where’s the greatest need?’”
The Greater Yellowstone Coalition, also a sponsor of Connecting the Gems, had a clear answer, which is echoed by the region’s scientists and conservation organizations.“They told us that these two huge areas should be and could be supporting carnivore populations,” explained Treinish.“The scientific communities believe that if populations could dependably migrate between and throughout these vast areas, they would thrive. So we need to find out what the specific barriers are that prevent movement, and which existing migratory routes are at risk of becoming cut off and cause isolation. Walking the route, which is really, really rugged, lets us view it through the eyes of wildlife and observe and document what they face.”
Treinish’s and Schlosberg’s journey has already begun, in a sense. The first phase—to identify the route they will take—has been underway for several months.Relying on existing information from land managers, ranchers, scientists and government agencies they have compiled a picture of their likely route across Yellowstone National Park, through southern Montana, and into Idaho. Their research—which pinpoints barriers to wildlife movement such as bottlenecks, detours, conflict zones, development, and roads, as well as known migration corridors—will continue until their departure.
Once underway, Treinish and Schlosberg will gather demographic data about the animals inhabiting and migrating along the route of travel.Fur and scat samples will be collected for DNA analysis that can link existing and future data about individual animals and groups of animals.Observations of footprints, claw marks, and scat will confirm the presence of animals.Remote-triggered camera traps may be used to catch imagery and identify individual animals.All data gathered will be tied to GPS locations.
“Without Oboz’ support, this expedition would not be possible,” said Treinish.“We appreciate all their help to help us pursue this important work which we hope will bring long term benefits to all inhabitants of the region – animal and human alike.”
Oboz creates ‘True to the Trail™’ outdoor footwear inspired by the wild environs spanning the region from the company’s Bozeman, Montana home to Jackson, Wyoming. ‘The Oboz’ is a place for exploration, play and work, as well as a state of mind that has deep respect for the area’s rich natural heritage. Oboz shoes—which debuted in stores in 2008—are designed to have meaningful innovation, steadfast performance and recognizable quality. Oboz plants a tree for every pair of shoes it sells through Trees for the Future, an international organization that improves livelihoods in developing countries through beneficial tree planting.