California breaks floor on largest city wildlife crossing

Construction has begun on what’s billed because the world’s largest wildlife crossing for mountain lions and different animals caught in Southern California‘s city sprawl.

Officials held a ceremony Friday to mark the beginning of development of a $90 million bridge over a freeway and feeder street that’s about 35 miles (56.33 kilometers) northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

“This wildlife crossing could not have come at a better time. It is truly a game changer,” mentioned Jeff Sikich, biologist for the National Park Service. “Today’s groundbreaking sets a path toward saving our local mountain lions and supporting the diversity of wildlife in this whole region.”

The bridge will stretch 200 toes (61 meters) over U.S. 101 to present massive cats, coyotes, deer and different wildlife a protected path to the close by Santa Monica Mountains. It is anticipated to be accomplished by early 2025 and might be named the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing for the philanthropist whose basis donated $25 million.

About 300,000 vehicles a day journey that stretch of the 101 in Agoura Hills, a small metropolis surrounded by a patchwork of protected wildland that the brand new crossing will join.

The star of the fundraising marketing campaign to construct the bridge was mountain lion P-22, who traveled throughout freeways and made his house in an enormous Los Angeles park. While he’s unlikely to make use of the span as a result of he lives many miles away, P-22 turned an emblem of the shrinking genetic variety of untamed animals that should stay all however trapped by sprawling growth or danger changing into roadkill.

Scientists monitoring mountain lions fitted with GPS collars discovered over many years that roadways are largely confining animals in mountains that run alongside the Malibu coast and throughout the center of Los Angeles to Griffith Park, the place P-22 settled.

On Thursday, a mountain lion was struck and killed on a close-by freeway. J.P. Rose, a senior lawyer on the Center for Biological Diversity, mentioned these deaths are preventable if the state invests in additional wildlife crossings.

Wildlife crossings — bridges and tunnels — are frequent in western Europe and Canada. A well-known one in Banff National Park in Alberta spans the Trans-Canada Highway and is often utilized by bears, moose and elk.

Cara Lacey, venture director for wildlife corridors and crossings venture on the Nature Conservancy, mentioned her group has been mapping out different wildlife crossings that she hopes can be constructed so animals can hunt down mates and meals sources.

“We can do this everywhere,” she mentioned. “We and our partners have a vision for reconnected California where wildlife does not have to compete with cars to cross roads.”

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