After hiking, biking, canoeing, and sailing 7,600 miles over 280 days, John Davis says the hard work has just begun.
Davis resigned as the Adirondack Council’s conservation director last year to undertake TrekEast, a muscle-powered journey designed to draw attention to the need to protect wild lands in the eastern United States and Canada.
He began his travels on February 3 in Key Largo, Florida, and finished this past Monday (November 14) on Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula. In between, he meandered through swamps, fields, and forests, along coastlines, and over mountains. He reached New York State in the summer and traveled through the Catskills, Shawangunks, and Adirondacks.
“While I’ve seen numerous threats to wild nature over the past ten months, I’ve also seen incredible efforts under way to counter those threats,” Davis said after reaching the Atlantic Ocean at Forillon National Park in Quebec.
In an interview with the Explorer, Davis said one lesson from his journey is that the East needs to bring back cougars to restore ecological balance. Without cougars to keep them in check, he said, deer are overbrowsing the woods, consuming wildflowers and saplings. “Our forests are likely to slowly degenerate,” he said.
Davis said conservationists need to focus on four other objectives in the East:
- Protect large tracts of wild land and the wild corridors connecting them.
- Create wildlife crossings over and under roads.
- Protect waterways with wild buffers.
- Encourage private landowners to protect wild lands.
Davis said TrekEast, though arduous, was the adventure of a lifetime. “Now comes the much more important and difficult leg of the trip—maintaining and growing the network of people needed to protect a continental-sized network of connected eastern wild lands,” he said in a news release.
He next plans to go to Washington, D.C., to discuss his journey with the directors of the Wildlands Network, which sponsored TrekEast. After that, he will return to his home near Westport in the Adirondacks.
“I’d be delighted to work at the Adirondack Council again someday, but there are no openings right now,” he said.
Meantime, he is planning his next big adventure: TrekWest in the Rocky Mountains.