Hoping to prevent the extinction of mountain lions, coyotes, deer, lizards, snakes, and other species that require room to roam, Southern California transportation officials will be building a wildlife crossing over the U.S. 101 highway.
“Localized extinction happens when populations can’t find each other, and if they don’t have genetic variability, they will blink out—especially low-mobility species in old-growth [forest],” Patty Garvey-Darda, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Forest Service says.
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) just released an environmental assessment for the project, called the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing. More than $13.5 in private funding has already been raised and 20% of the bridge cost will be allocated from public funds.
According to Huffpost, the $87 million bridge entered its final design stage last month and, if everything stays on track, should be completed by 2023 Engineer Sheik Moinuddin, project manager with the California Department of Transportation confirms this projection.
Having these wildlife bridges over highways is something that benefits both animals and people. An article, posted by the National Geographic, claims “studies that looked at a cross-section of native species’ deaths on highways in Florida, bandicoots and wallabies in Australia, and jaguars in Mexico, just to name a few, all show that wildlife crossings save money and lives, both human and animal.” When animals try and cross car-infested highways, chances of them getting hit are extremely high. Chances of humans getting hurt in animal-related car collisions also pose a danger.
While wildlife crossings are common in places like Western Europe and Canada, the U.S. has gained momentum over the last 30 years as well. This would be the second bridge in California to be made. This project was first designed in 2015 but it has taken this long to get the proper funding.
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