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A Safe Freeway Crossing for Southern California Wildlife

After eight years of planning, a highway crossing project spanning U.S. Route 101 could break ground in 2021.
October 29, 2020, 9am PDT | Lee Flannery | @leecflannery
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National Park Service

A project to allow safe passage for wildlife across a dangerous Los Angeles freeway will break ground in 2021 if fundraising successes continue. The wildlife crossing will be constructed just north of the city and will be the first wildlife highway crossing in a dense urban area, reports Adele Peters.

Beth Pratt from the National Wildlife Federation, one of the project's stakeholders, says that urban freeways are trapping wildlife in small islands between the thoroughfares. Many species are becoming genetically isolated, unable to commingle with animals in adjacent habitats. 

"The situation is most acute for mountain lions, who risk extinction in the area within decades, but other wildlife, from lizards to birds, are also showing a decline in genetic diversity," writes Peters.

Wildfires caused by climate change are creating a sense of urgency. "Fires fueled by climate change are making the challenges worse, as animals often can’t relocate when their habitat is destroyed, or they can’t directly flee the flames. A mountain lion named P-64, who died because of the Woolsey Fire, is one example," Peters reports.

Peters acknowledges that the necessity for a project to provide safe crossing has been in the works for a long time. Given the scale and budget, the U.S. Route 101 project's eight year timeline is moving relatively quickly, Peters says.

Full Story:
Published on Wednesday, October 21, 2020 in Fast Company
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