TransWild Alliance Blog

ICOET 2013 - June 23-27 in Scottsdale Arizona

It's Watch Out for Wildlife Awareness Week!

TransWild Alliance announces 2011 Mini-Grant Awardees!

Proposed Serengeti Road Canceled!

Panther Country Happenings

2011 is the Year of the Turtle

"Over the River" and Through the Wildlife Habitat...

Proposed Serengeti Road Could Halt Migration

Spotlight on the Success of Unique Bighorn Overpasses in Arizona

3/30/2011

Along US 93 in northwestern Arizona, south of the Hoover Dam bypass bridge, three overpasses were recently built specifically for the nation's largest contiguous population of desert bighorn sheep, which roam the Black Mountains. First of their kind, the three overpasses and associated fencing cost $4.8 million, of which federal highway funding paid 95% of the construction costs -- towards both the crossings and the widening and upgrades of US 93. This project is a GREAT EXAMPLE of how successful collaborations can be -- in this case, the partnership was between the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Arizona Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, National Park Service and Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society.

The wildlife crossing project initiated from an announcement of the impending widening of 15 miles of US 93 from two lanes to four, and an increase in speed limit to 65 mph. Already, wildlife officials estimate that at least 10 bighorn sheep die each year trying to cross the two-lane highway to get to the Colorado River. FHWA provided funding for AZ Game & Fish to study bighorn movement near the Hoover Dam and along AZ Hwy 68, to determine whether or not bighorn would use wildlife underpasses (which had been built on Hwy 68 and are used by other species) and where the bighorn historically crossed US 93. The AZ Game & Fish Department wasn't sure that the more common wildlife underpasses were the right option for bighorn, which can see movement up to a mile away and depend on their eyesight as their primary defense from predators. However, they often climb steep, rocky mountains to quickly escape danger.

Working with sportsman's groups, AZGFD captured and GPS-collared 75 bighorn in areas along US 93 and Hwy 68. The Hwy 68 underpasses were not very popular with the bighorn. The Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, a group active in bighorn conservation, contributed $60,000 toward the tracking collars and put up more money to help the state monitor the sheep. With more than 100,000 data points from the collared sheep, AZGFD and ADOT found three locations where to best include the overpasses into the design of the expanded highway. The overpasses were finished in late January 2011 and on February 1, remote cameras attached to the overpasses snapped the first photographs of bighorn crossing the highway. Hopefully this project can be used as an example in other areas and towards the safe passage of other species that can't use underpasses to cross roads blocking migration paths, like the pronghorn.

Get the latest scoop from this Prescott Daily Courier article: "Unique overpasses for bighorn sheep show initial success"
AZ Game & Fish Dept. has video of bighorn sheep using the crossings available to view.
You can find photos of bighorn sheep using the crossings in the Wildlife Crossings section of the TransWild photo gallery.

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Becky Beard
TransWild Alliance

Flat-tailed Horned Lizard No Longer Protected Under ESA

Trisha White of Defenders on The Organic View Radio Show

Kudos Given to Winner of ARC International Wildlife Overpass Design Contest

2/3/2011

Congratulations to HNTB and Michael Van Valkenburgh & Associates! This landscape architecture firm out of New York was recently was awarded $40,000 for their design of a wildlife overpass structure across Interstate 70 through Colorado's Vail Pass, where wildlife-vehicle collisions are frequent and deadly.

The ARC International Wildlife Crossing Infrastructure Design Competition attracted 36 submissions from more than 100 architecture firms from nine countries. The winning design was chosen out of the top five finalists and announced on January 23, 2010 at the Transportation Research Board's annual meeting in Washington, DC.

The winning design features separate wildlife "lanes" for species of different habitats (shrubs, grassland, forest, and meadow) that then condense into one bridge four times wider than the famous wildlife overpass in Banff National Park. The structure itself is a cost-effective system of concrete panels that snap in place, allowing for minimal site disturbance and easy assembly.

Even though this design is much wider than the Banff overpass, it would be much lighter and much less expensive, since the bridge in Banff was designed with wildlife in mind, but to standards such that heavy trucks could pass over it. This isn't necessary for elk, lynx, coyote, bobcat, bighorn sheep, deer, amphibians, rodents, or bears. Even with vegetation and soil on the overpass structure, its design still wouldn't need to accommodate the weight of heavy truck traffic. Hopefully these cost savings and the wealth of designs already completed will persuade more state DOTs to take the next step and fund this type of project in fragmented landscapes across North America.

Some of the other finalists' designs also included a bridge made out of wood from trees killed by beetles, a bright red bridge with paint visible to humans but not animals, and a viewing area far from the bridge, for people with binoculars to wildlife watch.

- New York Times: "For wildlife, a safe highway crossing"
- ARC website with finalists' designs
- See the 06/18/2010 blog below for more info on ARC.

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Becky Beard
TransWild Alliance

Wildlife Stuck Between a Highway and a Road During Migrations

Ontario Uses Citizen Science to Aid in Transportation Planning

2010 Florida Panther-Vehicle Collisions Just One Short of 2009 Number<

12/29/2010

It's December 29, 2010 and there have been 21 Florida panther deaths this year, with 16 caused by vehicles. Last year was an unfortunate record for panther-vehicle collisions, at 17. However, this year's interesting developments and efforts towards panther protection did include:

Installation of a Roadside Animal Detection System (RADS), used to detect wildlife movement on a road and alert drivers via electronic signage, is planned near the junction of Turner River Road and U.S. 41 in the southwestern corner of Big Cypress National Preserve. Although existing RADS have been targeted towards ungulates in arid or mountain environments, the state of Florida is optimistic that RADS can also be used on the ground-hugging panthers in the lushly vegetated state. Installation of the monitoring system is planned for late summer 2011 or early fall.
"Florida officials to install panther detection system with hopes of slowing road kills"

In November, the Bad to the Bone Brotherhood of Bikers teamed up with the Friends of the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge for the Panther Prowl Poker Run -- combining motorcycles, card games and wildlife preservation.
"Bikes, panthers and poker: Motorcycle group deals winning hand for Florida panthers"

On November 13th, Carlton Ward Photography captured this rare photo of a Florida panther on their trail camera from a cattle ranch in Highlands County, near US 27 and SR 70.

Just this month, the ground-breaking ceremony took place on Florida’s first-ever privately funded wildlife underpass and fencing in Collier County on County Road 846. Ten panthers have been struck and killed by vehicles on this stretch of road in the past 12 years. The $1.3 million crossing is part of a Habitat Conservation Plan for the City Gate commercial project (at a different location than the planned wildlife crossing) near I-75 and County Road 951. The City Gate developer will be required to monitor and maintain the crossing, at least for a couple of years. The project includes motion-sensitive cameras that will help track wildlife using the crossing.
"Developer building wildlife crossing in east Collier to protect panthers"

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Becky Beard
TransWild Alliance

Wyoming Transportation Commission Steps Up to Fund Wildlife Crossings<

12/16/2010

Each year 1,800 WVCs are reported on WY roadways, causing about 149 injuries and two human deaths annually.
In March 2010, the federal government declined to fund the construction of more wildlife-friendly underpasses in southwest Wyoming when FHWA denied the state's proposal for $100 million in economic stimulus funding for the agency's “wildlife connectivity” plan. The plan included the construction of 30 or more underpasses in some of the heaviest big game migration corridors in Wyoming.

GOOD NEWS released this week from WYDOT!
Wyoming's Transportation Commission has stepped up and allocated $9.7 million for the historic antelope migration bottleneck near Pinedale. The Trappers Point project will be WYDOT’s largest wildlife underpass effort to date, with eight crossing structures and associated wildlife fencing.

The underpasses will be designed to get migrating deer safely across the highway, and two overpasses will serve migrating antelope which biologists say are reluctant to use underpasses. Historic and archaeological evidence indicates that the animals have traveled the same migration route for MORE THAN 6,000 YEARS. But increasing development, new subdivisions, fences, and energy projects have squeezed part of that route into several narrow bottlenecks, which threatens the antelope's yearly migration.
Trappers Point contract completion date is set for Sept. 30, 2012.

WYDOT webcams show that wildlife underpasses construced in Lincoln and Carbon Counties have been successful, moving thousands of deer, elk, and antelope safely across highways. In fact, earlier this year FHWA recognized Wyoming's mule deer underpass project on US Hwy 30 in Lincoln County with its "Exemplary Ecosystem Initiative" award. (See Nov. 1, 2010 TransWild blog.)

Billings Gazette: "WYDOT approves $9.7M for deer underpasses, antelope overpasses" Jackson Hole News & Guide: "State to spend $9.7M to protect pronghorn"
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Becky Beard
TransWild Alliance

Endangered Flying Squirrels Using Crossing Structures in NC

New Report Released on Climate Change Adaptation

State Farm's 2010 Top Ten List for States with Deer-Vehicle Collisions

11/8/2010

For the fourth year in a row, West Virginia tops the list of those states where a driver is most likely to collide with a deer.
1. West Virginia -- the likelihood of a licensed driver in WV striking a deer within the next year is 1 in 42.
2. Iowa (1 in 67)
3. Michigan (1 in 70)
4. South Dakota (1 in 76)
5. Montana (1 in 82)
6. Pennsylvania (1 in 85)
7. North Dakota (1 in 91)
8. Wisconsin (1 in 96)
9. Arkansas (1 in 99)
10. Minnesota (1 in 100)

Flashback to 2009 and the top ten list was (in order): WV, MI, PA, IA, MT, AR, SD, WI, ND, VA.
Remembering 2008 gives us the top ten list as: WV, MI, PA, IA, AR, SD, WI, MT, ND, VA.

Get this, folks: while the number of miles driven by U.S. motorists over the past 5 years has increased just 2%, the number of deer-vehicle collisions in the U.S. has grown by TEN TIMES that amount, in the same time period.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, deer-vehicle collisions in the U.S. cause about 200 fatalities each year. The average property damage cost of these incidents was $3,103, up 1.7% from a year ago.

According to State Farm, during your reading of this blog entry, a collision between a deer and vehicle will likely have taken place somewhere in the United States! Yikes.

October 2010 State Farm Press Release: "Deer-Vehicle Collision Frequency Up 21 Percent in Five Years"

New Project Launched to Document Wildlife Sightings along I-90

FHWA Awards WY Underpasses as Exemplary Ecosystem Initiative

Georgia's First Wildlife Underpasses, Designed for Bears

Sprawl's Genetic Legacy? Ask Three Lizards and a Bird

Cross Base Highway Lawsuit Put on Hold in WA

Roadkill Counts and Mapping of Wildlife Crossing "Hot Spots" in China<

10/12/2010

They're even doing roadkill counts and GPS mapping of wildlife crossing "hot spots" in China!

The World Wildlife Fund reported in 2007 that an estimated 5,800 animals were killed on highways in northern Sichuan's Ruo'ergai wetland-prairie area. Ruo'ergai is surrounded by three highways including Highway 213. In 2009, China's first online auto sales platform, artsma.com, reported that Highway 213 was one of China's 10 most dangerous roads for drivers.

Volunteers collect and record roadkill data in Ruo'ergai on a monthly basis. Specifically, they count the number of wildlife passageways across roads, record speeds of vehicles, and map roadkill hotspots.

"Slowdown zones" exist in wildlife crossing hotspots, but drivers rarely slow as a response to mere warning signs. Volunteers advocate enforced reduced speed limits, as well as wildlife tunnels and fencing.

- Global Times: "Dead yaks in the middle of the road"

Wildlife Movement Threatened in Serengeti

Defenders' Habitat and Highways Program Turns Ten!

WA and CA Pass Laws to Prevent Copper Pollution from Roadways

Colorado Governor Signs Wildlife Crossing Zones Traffic Safety Bill into Law

6/18/2010

On June 9, 2010, Governor Ritter of the State of Colorado signed HB 1238, Wildlife Crossing Zones Traffic Safety Bill, into law in Vail, Colorado.

“Wildlife plays an integral role in Colorado’s natural heritage, and provides a reliable source of tourism dollars for the state. Helping animals safely cross roads is crucial to maintaining healthy wildlife populations into the future,” said Caitlin Balch-Burnett, Colorado outreach representative for Defenders of Wildlife.

“As wildlife move in response to climate change and increasing habitat fragmentation, one of the first barriers they will confront are roads,” said Monique DiGiorgio, conservation strategist for Western Environmental Law Center. “HB 1238 is seminal legislation that will slow drivers down in critical movement corridors, thereby increasing driver reaction time and reducing collisions with wildlife. It is a model for the nation and WELC is thrilled to have played an instrumental role in its passage.”

"By reducing speeds and alerting motorists to the risk of migrating wildlife, this Act will protect our state’s natural resources and save lives,” said Bethany Gravell, executive director of Center for Native Ecosystems. “We hope this legislation will raise awareness of the need to protect natural passageways that allow wildlife to stay off roads and move safely within their habitat.”

“It brings tears to my eyes to think of all the human and animal lives that will be saved by this important bill,” said Frosty Merriott, the Carbondale Town Trustee who initiated the legislative effort. “Passing this bill was truly a team effort, thanks to the Division of Wildlife, Department of Transportation, and the State Patrol, and I am so grateful for the hard work and perseverance shown by Representative Curry and Senator Schwartz.”

Press on the bill signing:
- Glenwood Springs Post Independent's "Ritter approves law on wildlife crossing zones"
- Denver Post's "Ritter to sign bill today doubling driver fines in wildlife-crossing zones"
- The Baltimore Sun's "Colorado protects wildlife in speed zones"
- The Daily Sentinel's "Wildlife, pets both benefit from bills signed into law Wednesday"
- Aspen Daily News Online's "Three Schwartz bills signed into law"

Photo (L-R): Caitlin Balch-Burnett (Defenders), Perry Will (Division of Wildlife), Senator Gail Schwartz, Bethany Gravell (CNE), Peter Kozinski (Colorado DOT), Monique DiGiorgio (WELC), Representative Kathleen Curry, Frosty Merriott, Governor Ritter.

Transportation Enhancements Funding for Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Projects

6/18/2010

The National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse (NTEC) has published "Transportation Enhancements: Summary of Nationwide Spending as of Fiscal Year 2009"

• What are the country's transportation funding priorities?
• What are transportation enhancements (TE)?
• How does your state compare with other states when it comes to spending federal TE program funds?
-- This report provides a view into this popular federal transportation funding program for transparency and valuable comparisons.

Notes for TransWild Alliance members:
Where does Category 11 (environmental mitigation, including wildlife crossings) stand?

• Figure 9 of the 2009 report shows the Distribution of Federal Funding by TE Activity FY 1992 through FY 2009 (in millions).
-- Category 11 projects received $93 million, or 1.0% of the total funds distributed, with 347 projects.

• The FY2008 TE report showed that Category 11 projects received $94 million, or 1.1% of the total funds distributed, with 353 projects.

• Figure 12 of the 2009 report shows Distribution of ARRA Funds by TE Activity (in millions).
-- Category 11 projects received $8 million, or 0.9% of the total funds distributed, with 13 projects.

BE SURE to read up on the ins and outs of TE funding in the excellent 2008 Defenders of Wildlife publication "The $61 Million Question: How Can Transportation Enhancements Benefit Wildlife?"

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Becky Beard
Habitat & Highways Program Coordinator
Defenders of Wildlife

FHWA Busts Out Wildlife Vehicle Collision Reduction Training Website

6/18/2010

Be sure to check out the just released WVC Reduction Training website from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

The training is intended to be used in conjunction with the August 2008 Wildlife Vehicle Collision Reduction Study: Report to Congress and the October 2008 Wildlife Vehicle Reduction Study Best Practices Manual.

These training modules should be used by state transportation agency staff and state wildlife agency staff across the U.S., as well as NGOs and engineers! Please spread this website link around to colleagues and friends!

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Becky Beard
Habitat & Highways Program Coordinator
Defenders of Wildlife

ARC Competition Officially Launched

Holt Introduces Bill to Protect Wildlife Corridors

Tagged:

Alaska Spends Millions on Roads without $$$ to Complete Projects

3/30/2010

Alaska Transportation Priorities Project (ATPP) just issued a report representing a statewide analysis of transportation decision-making in Alaska along with recommendations for the Parnell Administration to address systemic problems regarding costly transportation projects.

To view ATTP's entire report: Easy to Start, Impossible to Finish: Alaska Spends Millions on Roads and Bridges without Financial Plans to Complete the Projects

REPORT SUMMARY
Over several successive administrations, the State of Alaska has spent $133.4 million on five expensive road and bridge projects – Gravina Island Access, Juneau Access Road/Ferry, Knik Arm Bridge, and the Roads to Nome and Umiat. The state also has dedicated another $205.2 million to these projects. With an estimated total cost of $5.4 billion, there is a deficit of over $5 billion for these projects. Continued spending on these roads and bridges preempts funding of other transportation projects with greater and/or nearer-term benefits to travelers in Alaska.

At a time of declining federal transportation revenues, the state only has 6% of the dollars needed to build these projects assuming no unexpected cost overruns. The projects do not have financial plans identifying how they will be paid for, nor is it clear how they will be maintained and preserved should the state build them. It appears financially impossible to complete them.

Fiscally-conservative leadership at the highest level of state government is needed. The state should not continue to spend its increasingly scarce transportation funds on these projects if there is essentially no likelihood of adequate federal, state, or private money available to finish them. The state should suspend spending on these projects until full funding is reasonably assured. If after analysis funding prospects are dim, dedicated funds should be redirected to higher-priority transportation investments.

In November 2009, the federal government sent a letter to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT) expressing its concern over the state’s lack of “fiscal constraint.” If the state does not suspend or cancel one or more of these projects, it’s likely that future federal transportation funding for Alaska may be in jeopardy.

RECOMMENDATIONS
State leaders should:
1) Not start or continue projects that do not have the financial resources to be finished. Includes preparing reasonable and credible financial plans for projects prior to construction to ensure that project scale and scope will be roughly within budget.
2) Not let project momentum obscure the need to re-evaluate projects when adverse facts become available.
3) Develop state and local transportation revenue sources.
4) Pursue projects which address critical transportation needs, e.g., increasing safety, reducing congestion, fixing deteriorating infrastructure, and addressing air quality problems.

Governor Parnell, ADOT leadership, and state legislators should examine the funding prospects to complete these five projects, the ongoing expenses of the projects, and new information developed since the projects began. Once this information has been analyzed and thoroughly reviewed, state decision-makers should reassess the status of each of these projects.

The Governor or the state legislature consider creating a multi-stakeholder Surface Transportation Task Force including ADOT that can:
1) Analyze project funding shortfalls and potential revenue sources, and
2) Using objective criteria, make recommendations on proceeding with these transportation projects or spending the projects’ dedicated money on more critical transportation infrastructure needs.
Until the Task Force completes its work, the Governor should suspend spending on these five road and bridge projects.

To access ATTP's website: Alaska Transportation Priorities Project - Website

Become a fan of ATTP on Facebook! Join here: Alaska Transportation Priorities Project - Facebook Page

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Lois Epstein
Director
Alaska Transportation Priorities Project

Highways Threaten Desert Tortoises in Mojave Desert

Record Number of Florida Panthers Killed by Vehicles in 2009

Attempting to Reduce WVCs in Washington State

Wildlife Crossing Zones Traffic Safety Bill Introduced in Colorado

2/5/2010

On Feb. 3, Representative Kathleen Curry, of Colorado State House District 61, introduced HB 1238, the Wildlife Crossing Zones Traffic Safety Bill. Working with Rep. Curry on the bill is State Senator Gail Schwartz. TransWild Alliance members working on this initiative include the Western Environmental Law Center, Center for Native Ecosystems and Defenders of Wildlife.

This bill would allow for new wildlife crossing zones to be established by the CO Dept. of Safety in cooperation with CDOT and the Division of Wildlife. The bill would require the designation of zones using signage similar to what drivers encounter in school and construction zones. Signage in these zones would compel drivers to slow down to 55 mph on stretches currently posted at 65 or 75 mph. Fines would then be doubled for speeding in those areas.

Increasing Driver Reaction Time and Increasing Safety in Colorado

An automobile needs:
• 210 ft. to stop when traveling 35 MPH
• 403 ft. to stop when traveling 55 MPH
• 650 ft. (nearly 2 football fields) to stop when traveling 75 MPH

What is the problem?
• Animal‐vehicle collisions result in over 200 human deaths and 29,000 human injuries each year.
• Animal‐vehicle collisions result in more than $8 billion in costs each year.
• In Region 3 near Carbondale, animal‐vehicle collisions have increased 35% in 2009.
• In Region 5 near Durango, collisions with wildlife are the number one cause of accidents and account for 60‐75% of accidents along some stretches of US 160.

What is the solution?
The solution is to slow traffic speed down thereby increasing driver reaction time and reducing the number of animal‐vehicle collisions.

Why will this bill be an effective and reasonable solution?
• The bill asks the department of transportation (DOT) to establish “wildlife crossing zones” that are similar to construction zones.
• Zones cannot exceed a total of 100 miles in the state at any one time and are chosen by CDOT.
• Drivers will be notified of wildlife crossings zones by proper signage of a reduced speed limit and increased fines for a speeding traffic violation.

Who supports this bill?
The Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado Division of Wildlife, and Colorado State Patrol have all been working very closely with state policy makers on this important bill.

How many miles of roadway will this legislation effect?
The legislation cannot affect more than 100 miles at a time. Examples of zones can be found below.

Will this legislation be expensive?
No. This bill has no fiscal impact on the state, and in fact, will create revenues for the state in the long‐term as the fines will go into a fund to repay sign costs. Revenues collected over and above the sign costs will be used for wildlife fencing and crossing projects. In fact, the bill will reduce the cost to Colorado Division of Wildlife and CDOT of picking up carcasses.

How will the success of this legislation be determined?
The bill requires a report from CDOT on March 15, 2012 to communicate the efficacy of the zones and whether zones should be continued in the state.

How will this bill affect the Agricultural Community?
By reducing speeds in rural areas, the number of collisions with livestock will also be reduced.

How does slowing down reduce collisions with wildlife?
By decreasing the speed, the motorist can compensate for the increased probability of being involved in a collision.

Is the number of crashes increasing?
The number of all reported motor vehicle crashes has been holding relatively steady at slightly above six million per year. By comparison, the number of reported animal‐vehicle collisions has increased by approximately 50 percent over the same period.

Check out the interview with Frosty Merriott on the KCFR Colorado Public Radio podcast "Biography of a Bill"

Check out the Colorado Independent article "Schwartz, Curry crafting ‘Roadkill Bill’ to slow drivers in wildlife-crossing zones"

West Vail Pass Chosen as Site for International Wildlife Crossing Design Competition

12/16/2009

West Vail Pass has been selected as the site for an international competition among teams of architects, engineers, planners and others to design a wildlife crossing structure over Interstate 70.

Vail Pass was chosen from among twenty two candidate locations for ARC, the North American Wildlife Crossing Structure Design Competition. The competition, convened by a partnership of the Western Transportation Institute and other organizations in coordination with Colorado Department of Transportation, will focus national and international attention on a site long acknowledged as one of the most important and impacted wildlife corridors along I-70.

A wide array of species have been documented crossing or attempting to cross the interstate at Vail Pass. Two of the fourteen lynx killed on roads since 1999, when Colorado began reintroducing the native cats, were killed on Vail Pass. In 2005, Congress approved funding for preliminary studies of the Vail Pass site to support the eventual design of a wildlife bridge.

“Vail Pass is an important highway crossing site for so many creatures,” said Bethany Gravell, Executive Director at Center for Native Ecosystems and a representative of the Colorado Safe Passage Coalition. “Everything from elk and mule deer to endangered species like lynx use this vital movement corridor through our mountains. This design competition focuses on the right location, for the right reasons. This competition will help more people understand the importance of wildlife crossing structures within our highway system.”

“Anyone who has driven over Vail Pass can see it is an important connection between the mountain habitats on either side,” said Caitlin Balch-Burnett, Colorado Outreach Representative for Defenders of Wildlife. “Ensuring wildlife can safely cross roads and highways is crucial to keeping wildlife populations healthy into the future. They are part of the natural heritage and an important draw for tourism dollars. Colorado will serve as an example for the rest of the country by creating an innovatively designed wildlife bridge in this prime location.”

The competition will draw on data collected over the past several years by Colorado Safe Passage Coalition member organizations through a citizen science program that used motion-triggered cameras to record wildlife activity adjacent to the roadway. The competition will also rely on site-specific information from the Colorado Department of Transportation about the topography and construction requirements for the location.

“Highway crossings for wildlife can have so many benefits—improved driver safety, fewer animal deaths, healthier wildlife populations, which also means healthier landscapes,” said Monique DiGiorgio, Conservation Strategist for the Western Environmental Law Center. “Colorado needs to take its commitment to safety for drivers and wildlife to the next level, and Vail Pass is the right place to do it. We believe this competition will be good for Colorado’s mountains and wildlife and will make our state a leader in terms of promoting innovative and practical solutions for wildlife crossings.”

“The completion of a wildlife bridge at West Vail Pass will reconnect one of North America’s most endangered wildlife linkages and represents one more stepping stone toward realization of our goal to create a continental wildway along the Spine of the Continent, from Alaska to Mexico,” said Kim Vacariu, Western Director for the Wildlands Network.

The Colorado Safe Passage Coalition includes Western Environmental Law Center, Center for Native Ecosystems, Colorado Wild, San Juan Citizens Alliance, Defenders of Wildlife, and Wildlands Network. The coalition seeks to improve both wildlife health and public safety by facilitating wildlife crossing of roads, highways, and other barriers.

Further information about the ARC Competition and a full list of the eighteen sponsors is available on the ARC website.

Check out the Vail Daily article "Can you design a bridge for wildlife on Vail Pass?"

Check out the Denver Westword article "Designers! Get wild on Vail Pass!"

Funding Approved for Wildlife Overpass and Two Underpasses in Southern AZ

12/15/2009

Regional Transportation Authority Approves $8.3 Million for Crossing Structures

Pima County’s Regional Transportation Authority today approved the first wildlife overpass structure in Southern Arizona, and largest in Arizona, utilizing over $8 million of funding from a local transportation sales tax to fund the bridge and two underpasses designed to move wildlife safely between two protected mountain ranges north of Tucson. The funding comes from a 20-year $2.1 billion transportation package that county voters approved in 2006. In this package, voters were asked to support $45 million for wildlife-related infrastructure.

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) proposal was developed jointly by ADOT, Arizona Game and Fish Department, the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, and Coalition member groups Sky Island Alliance and Tucson Audubon Society. The wildlife infrastructure will be included in the design of the next phase of an on-going highway widening project of Arizona State Route 77, an urban street in the Tucson metropolitan area that becomes a rural highway as it moves north out of Pima County and into the adjacent, more rural Pinal County.

“This is an exciting step in our efforts to protect the incredible biodiversity that still exists at the urban edges of Tucson,” stated Christina McVie, Conservation Chair for Tucson Audubon Society. “And our state DOT is really a leader in planning for wildlife needs.”

“Over the last decade, we have been able to acquire habitat to expand our mountain parks, take steps with multiple local jurisdictions to assure open space through land use planning, and obtain assured funding sources for wildlife infrastructure”, said Carolyn Campbell, Executive Director of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection. I am happy to see the collaboration between agencies, NGOs, and our elected officials, along with such strong support from voters.”

The wildlife crossings will be built on a road that bisects the protected open space between the national forest Santa Catalina Mountain range and the Tortolita Mountains county park. Located between the two protected areas lies 9000 acres of state land, which recently when through a local land use planning process that designated over 5000 acres as an open space Wildlife Corridor. The design was developed by Dr. Paul Beier, a pioneer in science-based approaches to wildlife corridor designs.

“I am delighted to see my work being implemented on the ground,” said Dr. Beier. “I congratulate the entire local community – ADOT, activists, bureaucrats, and others – for their commitment to conserve and enhance wildlife movement. This example will inspire similar efforts throughout the country and the world.”

Siobhan Nordhaugen, Wildlife Connectivity Special Projects Manager for ADOT, was pleased with the RTA vote. “The funding allows ADOT to add and complement the environmental stewardship aspect of the ADOT SR 77 widening project by helping to improve public health and safety of traffic on this section of the highway while providing for the safe passage of wildlife,” said Nordhaugen.

The final design phase begins in March 2010, with construction scheduled for 2013.

Check out this Arizona Daily Star article "$8.2M Oracle Rd. wildlife paths OK'd"

And this article from The Explorer "Regional board OK's plan for wildlife bridge"

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Carolyn Campbell
Executive Director
Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection

New Website Aims to Protect Wildlife and Improve Driver Safety Along CO I-70 <

11/12/2009

The Center for Native Ecosystems and our partners in the Colorado Wildlife on the Move coalition have just launched a new website, www.I-70WildlifeWatch.org. This innovative website, created by the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University, will allow motorists to report wildlife they see along Colorado’s Interstate 70 between Golden and Glenwood Springs. The website launch is timed to coincide with the fall migration season -- November and December have the highest rates of wildlife-vehicle collisions as more deer and elk cross roads to get to their winter range.

The Colorado Wildlife on the Move coalition, a group of less-than-traditional allies including Center for Native Ecosystems, the Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado State Patrol, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, and Eco-Resolutions, works together to decrease the incidence of wildlife-vehicle collisions on our state’s roadways.

Drivers who see wildlife (both live and roadkill) along this stretch of I-70 can use maps embedded in the website to identify the specific location where they saw the animal. This information will be used by Center for Native Ecosystems and the Colorado Department of Transportation to identify locations on I-70 where animals are most frequently trying to cross. Our goal is to create a system of crossing structures along I-70 (including culverts, underpasses, and a vegetated overpass) to ensure that wildlife can move safely throughout the landscape.

You can help make I-70 safer for motorists and wildlife by participating in the I-70 Wildlife Watch website. It's easy -- you log on, report wildlife sightings along the interstate, and by doing so, help contribute to our work to make this interstate safer for drivers and wildlife. Learn more about our habitat connectivity work and see recent images from our motion-triggered cameras along I-70!


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Andrea West
Development Director
Center for Native Ecosystems

CSDP and the Tucson-Tortolita-Santa Catalina Wildlife Linkage

Watch Out for Wildlife Awareness Week Officially Recognized in Montana

10/9/2009

In a letter to the Rocky Mountain Regional Office of Defenders of Wildlife, Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana officially recognized Watch Out for Wildlife (WOW) Awareness Week as the third week in September.

Governor Schweitzer stated that "wildlife protection and conservation initiatives are top priorities for [his] administration" and asked to be kept informed of our "efforts to promote transportation alternatives and solutions that address this important ecological and public safety issue."

Check out Defenders' Watch Out for Wildlife website to find tips for drivers, contact information in the case of a wildlife-vehicle collision, fact sheets, multimedia presentations, and materials for kids and teachers: WatchOutForWildlife.org

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Becky Beard
Habitat & Highways Campaign Coordinator
Defenders of Wildlife

Maine Audubon's Traffic Volume Wildlife Tool

Misinformation Surrounding Florida Panther Crossing Project

Please Link the TransWild Alliance Website to YOUR Site!

Wildlife Motorcycle Collisions Are Typically the Worst WVCs

Maine Audubon's Efforts Towards Safe Fish Passage

"Division Street" Making an Impression Around the Country

Lake Jackson Ecopassage: A Worthy Shovel-Ready Project

The Conservation Registry

Roads, Roads, Everywhere

TransWild Mini Grants: May 15 Deadline!

Walk to Protect Wildlife

Center for Native Ecosystems Recognized in "Best of Denver"

Underground Roads to Maintain Wildlife Habitat

Climate Change and Sprawling Roads Hit Wildlife with a Double-Whammy: Example from Maine

2/25/2009

A new article from Maine Audubon highlights projections by the Union of Concerned Scientists, which show that Maine could have a climate similar to Maryland's by century's end.

Studies project that along with the climate, wildlife habitat in Maine will also change dramatically. Trees and vegetation that thrive in a warmer climate will stretch farther north, as Maine's spruce and fir retreat to Canada. As native wildlife lose habitat, they also will have to compete with new species moving in.

Plus, wildlife face increased threat from sprawling roads and scattered development. Because of fossil-fuel pollution, roads significantly contribute to climate change and serve as major barriers to wildlife, by turning them into roadkill and fragmenting their habitat.

Solutions?
Maine Audubon and partners are working with Maine Speaker of the House Hannah Pingree to initiate state legislation. The Climate and Energy Planning Act would emphasize smart growth-planning, make more efficient Maine's buildings and public transportation systems, and protect Maine's wildlife through conservation of connected habitat.

"When it comes to climate change, decisions that benefit wildlife benefit us, too," said Maine Audubon biologist Barbara Charry. "Keeping large blocks of forest intact takes carbon out of the air and conserves habitat. Limiting sprawling roads cuts overall car emissions and allows wildlife to move safely. It's all connected."

For the full article, please visit
Maine Audubon's website
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Becky Beard
Conservation Policy Assistant, Habitat & Highways Campaign
Defenders of Wildlife

1% For Wildlife

New Conservation Policy Assistant

A Busy Season for Maine Audubon

2008 Wildlife Crossings Field Course

Tagged:

Better Roads for Wildlife in the Berkshires

Wolves in Washington!

New publication: The $61 Million Question: How Can Transportation Enhancements Benefit Wildlife?

7/27/2008

Can you believe it’s been 10 years? June 2008 is the 10th anniversary of TEA-21 and the inclusion of Transportation Enhancements Activity 11, providing federal transportation funding for projects that reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and restore habitat connectivity.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary, Defenders of Wildlife is proud to announce our new publication, “THE $ 61 MILLION QUESTION: How Can Transportation Enhancements Benefit Wildlife?” a guide to Transportation Enhancements Activity 11 and a call for wildlife conservationists and natural resource managers to apply for TE funding. Because even after ten years, this funding opportunity has gone largely unnoticed by the conservation community, leaving as much as $61 million per year for wildlife habitat connectivity on the table.

Do the fuzzy math:
$8.1 billion authorized for TE since 1998
÷ 11 years
= $734 million per year
÷ 12 categories
= $61 million per year possible for wildlife*

Quite simply, if we don’t apply, we won’t get funded. Conservation efforts are in a perpetual funding crisis and we cannot afford to leave any stone unturned, especially one with $61 million beneath it.

That’s why we’re also launching our “Operation TE11 @ 10” to challenge partners across the country to apply for TE Activity 11 funds for wildlife related projects. Send us your ideas for wildlife related TE projects in your own back yards and we will choose five outstanding projects to receive technical support from Defenders of Wildlife.

Download the report at http://www.HabitatandHighways.org and please forward widely to your friends and colleagues in the conservation community.

Cheers,
Trisha White
Director, Habitat and Highways Campaign
Defenders of Wildlife